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Program Overview

Tribal Partnership Program
Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000

Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000, provides authority for the Corps in cooperation with Indian tribes and heads of other federal agencies to study and determine the feasibility of carrying out projects that will substantially benefit Indian tribes. The Tribal Partnership Program provides an opportunity to assist with water resources projects that address economic, environmental and cultural resource needs through studies that may include flood damage reduction, environmental restoration, and protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources. Upon request, the Corps will cooperate with tribes to study water resources projects and such other projects as determined appropriate, primarily located within tribal lands.

Feasibility Phase:
After a tribe requests a potential project, the Corps will conduct a reconnaissance study if it appears the project may have a federal interest and if funds are available. A reconnaissance study begins at federal expense up to $100,000. Upon Corps headquarters approval of the reconnaissance report, a feasibility study is initiated where costs are shared with the sponsor (tribe) according to a negotiated Study Cost Sharing Agreement (CSA). During the feasibility study the federal interest is determined, potential solutions are identified, the costs, benefits and environmental impacts are analyzed, and a recommended project is developed. Congress and the Administration must then authorize the recommended plan and provide appropriations for design and construction of the project. Depending on the type of project to be developed and the tribes ability to pay, different cost sharing responsibilities for the tribe and Federal government will apply.

A typical study includes planning level of detail; they do not include detailed design for project construction until after the project is authorized. Although the studies are planning level products, they do provide tribes with the technical data and analysis needed to either prepare plans and specifications for implementation or to request implementation funds. Typical problems and opportunities studied under this program are related to: flood damage reduction, water supply, erosion or sedimentation control, ecosystem restoration, water quality, watershed planning, dam safety, community infrastructure, emergency management and preparedness, recreation, cultural resources protection, and environmental resources management.

Tribal Responsibilities:
Tribal officials from federally recognized Native American Indian Tribes who are interested in assistance for their communities under this program should contact the Corps. Up to $100,000 of costs for a reconnaissance study are entirely federally funded. All feasibility study costs are shared by the federal government and a sponsor  (subject to the ability to pay rule) in accordance with the Water Resources Development Act (as amended). All of the sponsor’s share may be provided as in-kind services as negotiated in the FCSA.

Design and Implementation Phase:
After a feasibility report is completed, a recommended project will need a sepa­rate authorization from Congress to finalize design and move into the design and construction since Section 203 does not provide construction authority.

How to Request a Study:
Congress has authorized the Tribal Partnership Program for $5,000,000 annually through 2012. Each tribe would be limited to $1,000,000 per project. Coordination through Congressional contacts regarding specific appropriations would be necessary. To request a study or information regarding the program contact the Civil Works Branch at (855) 828-7015 or by email at