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Posted 12/2/2011

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Map of the Mississippi River Watershed
The Mississippi River Watershed is the world's third largest. It is the drainage basin for 41% of the continental United States.

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - December 2, 2011. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers economists have a new tool in their toolbox with the publication of the Coastal Storm Risk Management National Economic Development (NED) Manual. The manual is one in a series of NED manuals and replaces the 1991 report.

Damaging coastal forces act upon harbors, marshes and wetlands and endanger human lives. Events such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike have emphasized the increasing importance of managing the risks from coastal storms through risk assessment, risk communication and risk reduction measures.

Effective coastal storm risk management projects have competent assessments of risk and uncertainties, actions to manage risks, and an effective communication process. Engineers, planners and economists alike have recognized that total prevention of damage in a natural disaster is an unrealistic goal. Furthermore, preventive measures may not consistently yield unvarying economic benefits. Therefore, this updated manual puts a new focus on how to identify the NED plan based on risk-informed decision making.

The Coastal Storm Risk Management Manual is primarily designed for economists responsible for preparing economic analyses of USACE coastal storm risk management projects. Projects must meet Federal objectives, which include establishing a NED benefit. NED benefits are increases in the net value of the national output of goods and services, expressed in monetary units. Contributions to NED benefits in coastal areas are primarily reductions in damages to property.

This manual assists planners and economists in applying policy in a practical manner, updates practice to a life-cycle approach, and integrates risk-informed decision making. It reviews the Corps planning process, describes basic coastal processes and coastal engineering principles and models used in evaluating storm and long-term erosion, and then presents a discussion of NED benefits and costs as they relate to coastal storm risk management. The manual also presents a framework for economic analysis of coastal projects and includes appendices with definitions of key coastal and planning terms.

Audiences for this manual include economists, planners, project managers, coastal engineers, hydrologists, hydraulic engineers and others involved in shore protection or coastal storm damage issues. They must be able to understand and explain the process of benefit calculation and determine which alternatives are promising enough to carry forward to subsequent planning phases.

The National Economic Development manuals are important resource documents for performing economic analysis within the Corps of Engineers planning framework. They are part of the Planning Guidance Improvement Program. This manual was reviewed by the National Planning Center of Expertise for Coastal Storm Damage Reduction, USACE Headquarters, and the Institute for Water Resources. It has two versions: a printable digital copy and an online version (soon to be released). Publication as an online version will allow easy incremental updates to the manual as needs and practices change.

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