Institute for Water Resources

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History of Conflict Resolution

USACE/IWR History of Conflict Resolution and Public Participation

USACE has an almost legendary history within the U.S. government in the conflict resolution and public participation areas.

1970s: IWR USACE Public Involvement/Public Participation programs were primarily focused on Civil Works. USACE was considered to be a leader and collaborated with the White House to create the Interagency Council on Public Participation. USACE training set U.S. Government standards.

1980s: Focus on participation decreased in lieu of increased focus on cost-sharing as a way to collaborate.  At the same time, planning emphasis also decreased.

1980s - 1990s: IWR USACE, in collaboration with the Chief Counsel, created the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, which focused primarily on military programs and less on Civil Works.  The program achieved a 50% reduction in claims, or about $500 million on average for over five years before it was cancelled. USACE was presented the Hammer Award by Vice President Gore.

1990s: USACE construction initiated a program in partnering that was added to the ADR program. It dealt primarily with Construction/Military programs. The USACE partnered with the Associated General Contractors (AGC) to create a national movement in the construction industry, resulting in major improvements in contracting through the U.S. Government, spawning partnering programs in many States. By the late 1990s and early 2000s there was a renewed interest in the tools of environmental conflict resolution, collaboration and participation, and a new convergence among the tools.

2000s: Since the 1990s, USACE/IWR has also championed collaborative modeling approaches for water resources planning.  This Shared Vision Planning (SVP) approach combines three common practices: 1) traditional planning; 2) technical systems modeling; and 3) structured collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders. IWR has used SVP for:

  • Drought planning in the National Drought Study
  • Water allocation in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa-Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basins
  • Long-term water supply planning in Rappahannock River basin in Virginia
  • Reservoir operations in the Mississippi River headwaters in Minnesota.
  • Ongoing applications include use of SVP to address:
  • Water quality issues in Oregon’s Willamette basin
  • Regulatory issues in Virginia’s James River basin
  • Potential regulation schemes for the upper Great Lakes
  • Collaboration in the modeling for California’s state water plan
  • Interstate water management for the Western States Water Council on the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River