The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1961 (P.L. 87-88) stipulated that Federal agencies consider during the planning for any reservoir, storage to regulate streamflow for the purpose of water quality control. With the passage of Federal environmental laws during the 1970s, the Corps was required to comply with an increasing number of regulations concerning water quality at civil works projects. The Clean Water Act Amendments of 1977 required the Corps to comply with Federal, state, and local requirements in the same manner as other entities. In 1978, Executive Order 12088 made it a Federal policy for the Federal Government to protect and enhance the quality of air, water, and land resources in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of its facilities. Water quality within the Corps was initially developed in response to problems at operating water control projects. The water quality sections were typically created in within the same organizational area as water control, usually in the hydrology and hydraulics branch or division. In the St. Louis District, WQ responsibilities were assigned in 1970 to this section in response to Division and District policy directives.
In 1974, Corps Headquarters (HQUSACE) created Engineer Regulation ER 1130-2-334, Water Quality and Environmental Management at Corps Civil Works Projects, which required all districts and divisions to report their management of water quality at Corps projects. This ER was subsequently incorporated by reference into the Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR 222.5). It was in response to this ER that the water quality responsibilities of Corps districts and divisions were formalized. To meet this requirement, division-wide Water Quality Management Programs (WQMPs) were initiated with specific water quality management objectives for each project and Corps districts were required to prepare annual reports on their water quality activities. The regulation states that water quality management must be an integral part of water control management programs. In 1975, the Mississippi Valley District created Division Regulation DIVR 1110-2-205, Water Control Management: Water Quality, directing all districts to develop and implement a water quality program in response to ER 1130-2-334.
In 1987, HQUSACE created Engineer Manual EM 11110-2-1201, Reservoir Water Quality Analysis , which provides guidance for assessment of ongoing water quality conditions, including reservoir pools, releases and tailwaters. The EM recognizes the importance of a monitoring program collecting representative samples via sampling intervals that take into account seasonal hydrologic and limnologic events that affect water quality through either fixed or variable interval sampling.
Subsequent engineering regulations related to water quality have been established specifically for laboratory quality assurance (ER 1110-1-261), chemical quality management for toxic and hazardous wastes (ER 1110-1-263), and the creation of the Corps Committee on Water Quality (ER-15-2-10). This Committee hosts a biennial seminar on water quality issues at Corps projects. In 2009, the St. Louis District was nominated by HQUSACE as a member of the Committee on Water Quality. In 1995, ER 1130-2-334 was updated and merged with two other Engineer Regulations dealing with water quality (ER 1130-2-415 and ER 1110-2-1402) into the current water quality regulation, ER 1110-2-8154. The objectives of the WQMPs emphasize the importance of integrating water quality considerations into project management decisions, and the value of taking a holistic, ecosystem approach to water quality management.
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