The Tribal Partnership Program is authorized by Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (Public Law 106‒541). The Tribal Partnership Program provides authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work with Indian nations to study and determine the feasibility of carrying out projects that will substantially benefit Indian nations.
For activities where the federal share is not greater than $10 million, Congress authorized the Corps to perform design and construction as funding allows. Congress must provide separate authorization and appropriations for activities where the federal share is greater than $10 million.
Typical problems and opportunities studied under this program are related to flood risk management, water supply, erosion or sedimentation control, ecosystem restoration, watershed planning, dam safety, community infrastructure, emergency management and preparedness, recreation, cultural resources protection, and environmental resources management.
To start the process, a tribe submits a study request to the Corps. The Corps evaluates the request and seeks federal funding for studies that fit the authority.
Once funding is obtained, the Corps initiates a feasibility study where costs are shared with the sponsor (tribe) according to one of two cost sharing agreement types: a negotiated study or a watershed assessment. During the feasibility study phase, the Corps and the sponsor identify potential solutions, analyze the costs, benefits and environmental impacts, and develop a recommended project.
For those studies where design and construction are greater than the $10 million federal share, the Corps submits the completed feasibility report to Congress and the President, who must authorize the recommended plan and provide appropriations before design and construction may proceed.
There are currently three Tribal Partnership Program studies underway within the St. Paul District.
Feasibility studies cost share agreements qualify for a cost share waiver of up to $455,000 for the study and a separate waiver of up to $455,000 for design and construction.
Prairie Island Indian Community: Sturgeon Lake Ecosystem Restoration Study $350,000
St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin: Big Sand Lake Shoreline Stabilization $250,000
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate: Little Minnesota River Fish Passage Assessment $250,000