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About the Division

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Mission

The mission of Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Water Management is:

  • Responsible for Great Lakes and Ohio River water management program.
  • Provide support for the Division Commander in the execution of Lower Ohio and Lower Mississippi flood control.
  • Provide direct support to and serve as US Secretariat of, the Great Lakes Control and Study Boards established by the International Joint Commission.
  • Assure Districts are postured to respond to all emergencies: flood drought, and Great Lakes water level variability.
  • Manage and facilitate regional water management procedures, criteria, and requirements.
  • Provide interface on water management issues with regional and national offices of other U.S. and Canadian federal and non-federal agencies, provincial, state, and local governments, academic institutions, and professional societies and groups.
  • Support, coordinate, and oversee actions which involve multiple districts or divisions.
  • Serve as Division-wide principal adviser on all technical matters related to the water management program.
  • Coordinate the Division response to the Annual Flood Damage Report to Congress and compute and assign main stem Ohio River damages prevented to the Districts.
  • Provide technical and policy guidance on all aspects of the water management program (quality and quantity) and assure program execution adheres to policy and command guidance through continuous communication with districts.

 

Ohio River Regional Water Management

Goal: Deliver enduring and essential water resource solutions through collaboration with partners and stakeholders

The Ohio River drains America's Heartland, stretching more than 981 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Cairo, IL where it joins the Mississippi River. Its 204,000 square mile watershed stretches north to south from New York to Alabama and east to west from Pennsylvania to Illinois. 14 major tributaries and 11 minor tributaries supply the river. Flows at its outlet range from 15,000 cfs to 1,850,000 cfs (3 orders of magnitude and nearly 9 times the flow over Niagara Falls). There are 78 multi-purpose reservoirs. In addition, there are 31 projects that are operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The projects are maintained and operated by 5 Districts, with the Division having oversight and operational Ohio/Mississippi River flood control responsibilities. Even with all these structures only approximately 1/3 of the Ohio River Basin runoff is controlled.

Water Management requires balancing competing interests to successfully operate Corps projects. It is a collaborative effort that requires working closely with federal, state, and local agencies as well as other partners and stakeholders.

 

Mississippi River Commission

Goal: Provide water resources engineering direction and policy advice to the Administration, Congress, and the Army in a drainage basin that covers 41 percent of the United States.

The Mississippi River Commission has a proud heritage that dates back to June 28, 1879, when Congress established the seven-member presidential commission with the mission to transform the Mississippi River into a reliable commercial artery, while protecting adjacent towns and fertile agricultural lands from destructive floods.

In its current capacity, the Mississippi River Commission oversees the Mississippi River & Tributaries (MR&T) project authorized by the 1928 Flood Control Act.

LRD's Mississippi River Role:

  • The Ohio River contributes 60% of the flow to the Lower Mississippi River.
  • Under Section 7 of the 1944 Flood Control Act, executes Lower Ohio/Mississippi River flood control operations through effective use of lakes Kentucky and Barkley.
  • LRD's Commander serves as member of the Mississippi River Commission.

 

Great Lakes

Goal: Management of the Great Lakes water in a sustainable manner that balances the needs for competing interests; Treaty compliance.

The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD) supports three LRD Districts (Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo) and the International Joint Commission (IJC) through:

  • The LRD Commander serving as the US Chair for the Lake Superior, Niagara, and St. Lawrence River Boards of Control as well as the Niagara Committee. LRD Water Management staff members serve as the US Secretary for the same boards and committees.
  • LRD staff has key leadership roles and participates in special studies at the request of the IJC. Currently these studies include the International Upper Great Lakes Adaptive Management Task Team and the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Working Group.
  • LRD staff provides program and technical support to the three Great Lakes Districts in the form of Community of Practice development and joint information management and messaging to stakeholders.

 

International Joint Commission 

The Great Lakes Basin has 14,000 miles of shoreline and contains 95,000 square miles of water and covers 200,000 square miles of land over 8 States & 2 Provinces.

The 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty signed on January 11, 1909, established the legal foundation and guiding principles for the U.S. and Canada to prevent and, if needed, resolve disputes related to shared water resources.  The Boundary Waters Treaty established the IJC to assist the governments in implementing the terms of the Treaty and in finding solutions to problems in these waters.

The boundary waters are used for many purposes, including potable and industrial water supply, receiving treated wastewater, hydroelectric power generation, irrigation of agricultural lands, recreational and commercial navigation. In some cases, the IJC is empowered to authorize a particular use of the waters, while protecting competing interests in accordance with rules set out in the Treaty.

The IJC has six Commissioners, three appointed by the President with the advice and approval of the Senate, and three appointed by the Governor in Council of Canada, on the advice of the Prime Minister. Each Commissioner must act impartially, in reviewing problems and deciding on issues, rather than representing the views of their respective governments.

 

Environmental Operating Principles

Water Management embraces the Corps’ 7 environmental operating principles:

  • Striving to achieve environmental sustainability.
  • Recognizing the interdependence of life and the physical environment.
  • Seeking balance and synergy among human development activities and natural systems.
  • Continuing to accept corporate responsibility and accountability under the law for activities and decisions under our control that impact human health and welfare and the continued viability of natural systems.
  • Seeking ways and means to assess and mitigate cumulative impacts to the environment by bringing systems approaches to the full life cycle of our processes and work.
  • Building and sharing an integrated scientific, economic, and social knowledge base that supports a greater understanding of the environment and impacts of our work.
  • Respecting the views of individuals and groups interested in Corps activities, listening to them actively, and learning from their perspective in the search to find innovative win-win solutions to the Nation’s problems that also protect and enhance the environment.