Eugene Z. Stakhiv

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Institute for Water Resources

Alexandria, USA



A brief overview of the issues related to the upper Mississippi River flood of 1993 is presented as the context for understanding one federal agency’s (Corps of Engineers) responses to the policy and programmatic recommendations in the aftermath of the flood.  Generally what is lacking for good decision making is basic information, rather than research.  What is needed is to better quantify impacts so that better choices among options can be made.  Public policies are frequently being made in the absence of good information; theories are being substituted for hard information.  Better information, in the form of data about flood damages; degree of inundation; severity and frequency of flooding is basic to all rational decision.  Research, however, is needed to improve and refine existing methods rather than creating entirely new approaches or models.  With the exception of riverine ecosystem modeling, much of the research and analysis that is required to act on the recommendations of the “Galloway Report” is to improve the administration and effectiveness of existing programs.  The type of policy research and analysis that is needed is significantly different from the traditional technical hydrologic, hydraulic, and engineering R&D that one would expect.  Policy choices concern themselves with relative differences in socioeconomic impacts; with issues of equity, political feasibility, and programmatic efficiency.  Issues of tax policies, project cost-sharing policies and the economic consequences of alternative legislative fixes are at the heart of policy analysis.  The technical or scientific research that is needed falls in three areas: ecosystem analysis, economic evaluation of ecosystem outputs, and hydrologic/hydraulic modeling of integrated river systems.