Institute for Water Resources (IWR)

IWR Headquarters
Published Oct. 24, 2023

Created in 1969, IWR is a field operating activity under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Headquarters Civil Works Directorate. The IWR mission is to provide forward-looking analysis, cutting-edge methodologies, and innovative tools to aid the Civil Works program.

IWR works to analyze and anticipate changing water resources management conditions, and to develop methods and analytical tools to address engineering, economic, social, institutional, and environmental needs related to water resources infrastructure, planning, policy, and management.

In addition to its headquarters location at the Humphreys Engineer Center in Alexandria, Virginia, IWR operates four Centers and five satellite locations throughout the U.S., all working to assist USACE Districts, partner agencies and international partners to, “Bring the state of the art in water resources into the state of the practice.” 

IWR also serves as the US Section secretariat for PIANC, World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, which is chaired by the ASA(CW) and presided over by the DCG-CEO.   

IWR’s Centers

Water Resources Center

Effectively Managing the Nation’s Water Resources
Effectively Managing the Nation’s Water Resources
The Institute for Water Resources provides the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the United States with comprehensive support for the management of water resources and the sustainment of the nation’s economic status through modern analysis, unique methods and models, and data management. (Photo Credit: Courtesy image - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Institute for Water Resources)
Photo By: Ana Allen
VIRIN: 220819-A-WR005-1001
Co-located with IWR Headquarters in Alexandria, VA, IWR’s Water Resources Center (WRC) provides support to the Civil Works business areas of navigation, flood risk management, environment, regulatory program, recreation, emergency management, and water storage for water supply.  The WRC has long provided unique economics support to all Civil Works mission areas as well as support in the social sciences especially through the USACE Collaboration and Public Participation Center of Expertise (CPCX).  The CPCX provides technical assistance on collaborative processes, builds USACE collaborative capacity, publishes reports on environmental conflict resolution and collaborative processes, and manages the USACE’s Collaboration and Public Participation Community of Practice (CPP CoP).

The WRC also assists MSCs and Districts in providing USACE water resources support internationally primarily to the DoD and DoS.  The WRC maintains a working relationship with the DoS Office of Water in Washington and hosts the International Center for Integrated Water Resource Management (ICIWaRM), which is affiliated with UNESCO.  ICIWaRM engages subject-matter experts across USACE, along with a network of partners from other governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations and academia, to address water security and other water-related challenges around the globe through integrated water resources management.

Hydrologic Engineering Center

Located in Davis, California, the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC) was founded in 1964 and is a Technical Center of Expertise in surface and groundwater hydrology, river hydraulics and sediment transport, hydrologic statistics and risk analysis, reservoir system analysis, planning analysis, real-time water control management and a number of other closely associated technical subjects.

HEC supports USACE's field offices, Headquarters, and laboratories with technical methods and guidance, water resources models, training, specially developed software, and providing technical assistance. HEC software is available at no cost and widely used in industry across the nation and internationally. 

HEC is the system developer for the Corps Water Management System (CWMS) suite of software and is instrumental in its nationwide application. CWMS integrates real-time data acquisition, database storage, flow forecasting of watershed runoff, reservoir operation decision support, river profile modeling, inundated area determination, consequence/damage analysis, and information dissemination into a comprehensive suite of software supporting water management decision processes.

HEC developed software is available for download at and among others includes:

  • Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS) – Simulates the complete hydrologic processes of dendritic watershed systems. The software includes many traditional hydrologic analysis procedures such as event infiltration, unit hydrographs, and hydrologic routing.
  • River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) – Perform one-dimensional steady flow, one and two-dimensional unsteady flow calculations, sediment transport/mobile bed computations, and water temperature/water quality modeling.
  • Statistical Software Package (HEC-SSP) – Performs statistical analyses of hydrologic data across a wide range of applications. 
  • Reservoir System Simulation (HEC-ResSim) – A reservoir operations modeling software, which can be used to simulate the operations of a system of reservoirs to meet their individual and system purposes. The modeled simulations can range from representing single events to covering the full period of observed data for the system for both planning and real-time purposes.
  • Flood Damage Reduction Analysis (HEC-FDA) – Applies risk analysis procedures to perform flood risk management analyses, plan evaluation and plan formulation, and comparing plans using Expected Annual Damage (EAD) damage reduction benefits and project performance.

Navigation and Civil Works Decision Support Center

Helicopter flight over Pittsburgh District
Helicopter flight over Pittsburgh District locks, dams, reservoirs, rivers
The photo above is an aerial view of Emsworth Locks and Dams on the Ohio River near Pittsburgh, July 21, 2023. Emsworth is one of six navigation structures on the Ohio River that provide navigation from downtown Pittsburgh to New Martinsville, West Virginia. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started constructing Emsworth in 1919 and completed in 1922. The project became operational in September 1921. Emsworth is located at river mile 6.2. Pittsburgh District’s 26,000 square miles include portions of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western Maryland, and southwestern New York. It has more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigation locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose flood-control reservoirs, 42 local flood-protection projects, and other projects to protect and enhance the nation’s water resources infrastructure and environment. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 230721-A-TI382-1054
The Navigation and Civil Works Decision Support Center (NDC) collects, manages, and disseminates of Civil Works data, and delivers technical, analytical, and programmatic support to the Navigation Business Line.  While rooted in the management and delivery of analytical support to the USACE’s navigation mission, the NDC is presently responsible for the secure operation, management, and use of enterprise data systems that support timely delivery of decision-relevant data, analyses, and decisions.

The NDC’s origins can be traced back to the 1946 establishment of its Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) in New Orleans, LA when the center was one of six across the nation established to gather, manage, and disseminate information about waterborne transport of commodities.  Those six centers were consolidated at the WCSC in 1969, which was later folded into the NDC on its establishment in 1989 to: plan, develop, and evaluate navigation data collections and management systems; collect, compile, analyze, and distribute data concerning the Nation’s ports and navigation systems; and deliver enterprise technical assistance in areas of navigation analysis. 

The NDC maintains offices in Alexandria and New Orleans.  In addition to delivering technical, analytical, and logistical support to HQUSACE, today’s NDC manages a variety of navigation data contained primarily with four data systems, and supports an overarching Civil Works enterprise data management environment.

  • The Civil Works Business Intelligence (CWBI) portfolio comprises a cloud-based environment for the secure and structured management of Civil Works data.
  • The Transportation Operations and Waterborne Statistics (TOWS) system is a suite of databases and applications that provide for the secure processing, review, management, and publication of waterborne commerce statistics.  Statistical summaries of data from this system are published annually and used by government agencies and industry to justify and prioritize funding for investments in navigation infrastructure.
  • The Lock Performance Monitoring System (LPMS) is a data system and suite of applications that enables monitoring, analysis and reporting of navigation lock operations and the efficiency of waterborne commerce movements on the Nation’s waterways.  The data from this system is also used by shippers and carriers to support the scheduling and operation of waterborne movements of commodities.
  • The Dredging Information System (DIS) is a data system and suite of applications to plan, monitor, and analyze dredging activities in US waterways, channels, ports, and harbors, while fostering beneficial uses of dredged sediment.  Outputs from this system are used to support the planning and scheduling of dredging activities and enable the efficient and effective use of the Nation’s (government and private) dredging fleet.
  • The Notices to Navigation Interests (NTNI) system is a data system and suite of applications used by the USACE to advertise planned construction, operations, and maintenance activities that may affect navigation.  Outputs from this system are used by the government and navigation industry to increase awareness of activities that have the potential to affect the conditions of navigable waters, and to provide for the safe use/navigation of the Nation’s waters.

Risk Management Center

Loyalhanna Lake
Loyalhanna Lake
Loyalhanna Lake
Photo By: USACE - Walla Walla District
VIRIN: 210604-A-SB280-1001
The Risk Management Center provides technical and programmatic oversight for Civil Works dam and levee safety. The RMC performs these activities at the direction of the Director of Civil Works and the Chief of Engineering and Construction.

RMC’s core mission areas include the following.

  • Risk Management and Risk Assessment for USACE Dams and Levees
  • Technical Support & Leadership for Dam and Levee Safety Activities
  • Program Management for Safety Program Activities
  • Strategic Risk and Public Communication
  • Dam and Levee Safety Technical Competency and Training
  • Quality Management for Safety Program Activities
  • Dam and Levee Data Management
  • Policy Development
  • Emergency Support & Forensic Investigation for Dams and Levees

The RMC is the mandatory center of expertise for assessing life safety risks in accordance with the Dam Safety Engineer Regulation 1110-2-1156, which requires most Districts to engage with the RMC in support of their Dam and Levee Safety programs.  As the Dam and Levee Safety center of expertise, the RMC coordinates or performs risk assessments, reviews, data management, portfolio priorities for the USACE Dam and Levee Safety projects, and risk communication.  This assistance is often employed by MSCs in support of Dam safety problems of within countries of interest by COCOMs. 

The Risk Management Center (RMC) conducts more than 50 risk assessments plus preparations for 20 more annually.  The RMC is responsible for leading the development of risk-related tools and risk methodology for the USACE Dam and Levee Safety programs.