Continuing Authorities Program Description

Congress has given the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the authority to plan, design, and construct certain flood risk management and navigation improvements without specific congressional authorization. The basic objective of this program is to allow the Corps to respond more quickly to problems or needs where the apparent project scope and costs are small. The amount of Federal participation is limited by Congress, and varies for each individual authority.

Types of Assistance Available

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Ecosystem Restoration

Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, as amended, authorizes projects to restore degraded aquatic or riparian ecosystems for plants, fish and wildlife.

Fact Sheet Section 206 - Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration

Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, as amended, authorizes modification to existing Corps projects to restore the environment or construction of new projects to restore areas where a Corps project has contributed to environmental degradation.  Environmental improvements cannot conflict with authorized Corps project purposes. 

Fact Sheet Section 1135 - Project Modifications to Improve the Environment 


Emergency Streambank and Shoreline Protection of Public Works and Non-Profit Public Service Facilities

Section 14 of the Flood Control Act of 1946 authorizes the construction of emergency streambank protection measures to prevent damage to highways, bridge approaches, municipal water supply systems, sewage disposal plants, and other essential public works facilities endangered by floods or storms due to bank erosion. Churches, hospitals, schools, and other non-profit service facilities may also be protected under this program. This authority does not apply to privately owned property or structures.

Aid under this program typically includes the construction or restoration of bank protection features (i.e., riprap, concrete walls, and/or gabions).

Small Flood Control Projects

Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948, as amended by subsequent legislation, authorizes the construction of small flood control projects that have not already been specifically authorized by Congress. Flood control projects under Section 205 are not limited to any particular type of improvement. There are two general categories of projects: structural and nonstructural. Structural projects may include levees, floodwalls, diversion channels, pumping plants, and bridge modifications. Nonstructural projects have little or no effect on water surface elevations, and may include such measures as flood proofing, the relocation of structures, and flood warning systems.

A project planned and constructed under this program is designed to provide the same quality facility, and the same adequate degree of protection, as would be provided by projects specifically authorized by Congress.

Fact Sheet: Section 205 - Flood Damage Reduction Projects

 Small Navigation Projects

Section 107 of the River and Harbor Act of 1960, as amended, authorizes the construction of small navigation projects. Assistance is limited to general navigation facilities (including entrance channels protected by breakwaters or jetties, if needed), anchorage basins, turning basins, and major access channels leading to the anchorage basin or locally provided berthing area. Docks, landings, piers, berthing areas, boat stalls, slips, mooring facilities, launching ramps, access roads, parking areas, and interior access channels needed for maneuvering into berths are entirely a local responsibility; and are design, constructed, and maintained at non-Federal expense.

Fact Sheet: Section 107 - Small Navigation Projects

 Snagging and Clearing Waterways for Flood Control or Navigation

Section 208 of the 1954 Flood Control Act authorizes the removal of accumulated snags and other debris, as well as channel clearing and straightening, in navigable streams and tributaries.

Fact Sheet: Section 208 - Snagging and Clearing for Flood Control

Continuing Authorities Program

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 Project Studies

A project can be constructed only after an investigation clearly shows the engineering feasibility, environmental acceptability, and economic justification of the project. Each project must constitute a complete solution to the problem, and must not commit the Federal government to additional improvements to ensure its effectiveness.

Studies are conducted in two phases: a reconnaissance phase and a feasibility phase. A reconnaissance study, conducted at full Federal expense, is initially made to determine whether or not there is Federal interest in the project. For very small flood-related projects (i.e., most streambank protection projects and snagging and clearing projects), this study is sufficient to determine economic feasibility and to support Federal participation in project construction. In the remainder of cases, a detailed feasibility study is required.

The feasibility phase consists of further planning activities required to reach a conclusion on Federal participation in the project. the cost of the feasibility phase is split equally between the Corps and the local sponsor, and is supported by an FCSA between these participants. Up to 50 percent of the local sponsor's share can be provided by accomplishing work required for the study (in-kind study services). The results of the feasibility study are presented in a Detailed Project Report (DPR), which must have sufficient detail to assure that the project will meet functional requirements and conform with sound principles of engineering design, economic justification, and environmental acceptability.

The protection of the environment is documented through either an EIS or an EA, depending on the significance of project impacts. The study, including preparation, review, and approval of the report and EIS (or EA), generally requires less than one year to complete. Near the end of the study, the District will prepare, in cooperation with the local sponsor, a draft LCA defining the obligations of the Federal government and the local sponsor in the construction, maintenance, and cost sharing of the project.

Upon approval of the Detailed Project Report (DPR), the related EIS/EA, and draft LCA by the Walla Walla District and our Division office; funds are requested to develop plans and specifications for the project. When plans and specifications are sufficiently complete, the District requests final project approval and construction funding from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters.

 Local Cooperation Requirements

Each project must be sponsored by, and coordinated with, a local interest (i.e., city, county, state, flood control district, or other legally constituted public body).

Formal assurances of local cooperation must be furnished by the local sponsor, who must be fully authorized under state laws to give such assurances, and be financially capable of fulfilling all local cooperation requirements.

Examples of items of local cooperation that local sponsors must furnish include the following:

Flood-Related Projects (Sections 14, 205, and 208)

  • Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the project; except where such damages are due to the fault or negligence of the United States or its contractors.
  • Make all alterations and relocations of buildings, transportation facilities, storm drains, utilities, and other structures and improvements necessary for the construction of the project (excluding approaches and facilities necessary for the normal interception and disposal of local interior drainage at the line of protection).
  • Prescribe and enforce regulations to prevent obstruction or encroachments on channels and interior ponding areas that would reduce flood-carrying capacity or hinder maintenance and operation, and to control; development in project areas in order to prevent an undue increase in flood damage potential.
  • At least annually, inform affected interests about the limitations of protection offered by the project.
  • Publicize floodplain information in the areas concerned, and provide this information to zoning and other regulatory agencies for their guidance and leadership in preventing unwise future development in the floodplain. This will help them to adopt regulations that will ensure compatibility between future development and protection levels provided by the project.
  • Comply with the provisions of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-646); Section 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Public Law 88-352); and Section 221 of the Flood Control Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-611), as amended.


    • Section 14 - Emergency Streambank and Shoreline Protection
    • Section 205 - Flood Damage Reduction Projects
    • Section 208 - Snagging and Clearing for Flood Control

Navigation Projects (Section 107)

  • Provide, maintain, and operate an adequate public landing or wharf with provisions for the sale of motor fuel, lubricants, and potable water. This public landing or wharf must be available for all to use on equal terms.
  • Provide and maintain berthing areas, floats, piers, slips, and similar marina and mooring facilities as needed for transient and local vessels; as well as necessary access roads, parking areas, and other needed public-use shore facilities.


    • Section 107 - Small Navigation Projects
 Operation and Maintenance

For both structural and non-structural flood control measures, the local sponsor must agree to operate and maintain the project after its completion.

The Corps is responsible for operation and maintenance of Section 107 small navigation projects. However, Federal costs for operation and maintenance that can be expended on any one project are limited to a total of $4.5 million, or 225 percent of the project's construction costs, whichever is greater. Operation and maintenance costs over that amount become the responsibility of the local sponsor.

Section 107 - Small Navigation Projects

 How to Obtain Assistance

If you have a water resource problem or concern that you believe may fall under the Continuing Authorities Program, contact the Corps at 208-345-2065. In many cases, only a brief telephone discussion is sufficient for us to understand the basis of your concern and determine whether or not the Corps has the authority to become involved.

If the project falls under one or more of the authorities listed above, the next step would be to formally request our assistance. The written request should be submitted by a prospective sponsor (see sample letters on flood-related projects and navigation projects). Upon receipt of the formal request, the District Engineer will take the necessary steps to determine if there is Federal interest.

 Sample Letter - Flood-Related Projects

District Engineer
Department of the Army
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Walla Walla District
ATTN: Planning Division
201 North Third
Walla Walla, WA 99362-9265

Dear Sir:

This letter is to seek the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in (state the problem) on the (name of river or creek) in the vicinity of (city of town, county, state).

(Briefly describe the nature, cause, and severity of the flooding problem.)

Your consideration of this request would be appreciated. Please contact (name, address, telephone) for further coordination.



 Sample Letter - Navigation Projects

District Engineer
Department of the Army
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Walla Walla District
ATTN: Planning Division
201 North Third
Walla Walla, WA 99362-9265

Dear Sir:

This letter is to seek the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in relation to improved navitation facilities on the (name of river), in the vicinity of (city or town, county, state).

(Briefly describe the perceived project.)

Your consideration of this request would be appreciated. Please contact (name, address, telephone) for further coordination.



 Fact Sheets