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This Article begins by reviewing the purposes for federal water projects, and identifies some of the trade-offs involved in operating projects for certain purposes. It then addresses the legal factors that determine or influence project operations, beginning with project authorizing statutes and ending with federal environmental laws. The Article examines Corps and Bureau policies regarding project operating plans, the reasons for agency reluctance to review and revise their plans, and some of the factors that prompt the agencies to proceed with reviews. It then summarizes periodic review requirements in two analogous contexts—federal land management plans, and hydropower project licenses—and considers the potential significance of these requirements for federal water projects. Finally, the Article examines what the Corps and the Bureau, along with the courts and Congress, are already doing on this issue, and what more they could do to ensure that project operating plans are reviewed and revised. It concludes with some brief observations about why the agencies should proceed with such reviews.

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Columbia Journal of Environmental Law





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