Adaptation, Legal Resiliency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Managing Water Supply in a Climate-Altered World


There are existing legal systems that embody planned resiliency. One of these is the “multiple-use” paradigm, which instructs resource managers to manage resources to maximize their multiple uses. Despite this built-in resiliency, the agencies charged with such management have not been able to translate this resiliency into practice.

One of these agencies, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, is charged with managing water storage throughout much of the United States for multiple purposes, including human needs, agriculture, transportation, recreation, electricity generation, habitat, and the environment. This article examines the Corps’ history in managing this water storage and shows that the Corp is currently ill equipped to administer its requirements with resilience. Given the expected demographic growth and climate-changed future, these problems are only going to grow worse.

This article analyzes the potential obstacles to effective, resilient management and makes suggestion about how the Corps, and ultimately other agencies, can effectively make their administrative systems more adaptive and thus better suited to new demands.


climate change adaptation, adaptation, resiliency, Army Corps, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, water, water storage, water management, multiple use, environment, environmental law, water law

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89 North Carolina Law Review 1499 (2011)


COinS Victor B. Flatt Faculty Bio