Fact Sheet 17: Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration (Sec. 206)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published May 8, 2015
Updated: March 20, 2023
Marsh Lake Dam

Marsh Lake Dam

Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 provides authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to undertake restoration projects in aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and wetlands. The Corps evaluates projects that benefit the environment through restoring, improving or protecting aquatic habitat for plants, fish and wildlife.

A project is accepted for construction after a detailed investigation shows it is technically feasible, environmentally acceptable, and provides cost effective environmental benefits. Each project must be complete within itself, not a part of a larger project. Studies are accomplished at full federal expense up to $100,000; remaining study costs are cost shared 50/50; design and implementation costs are cost shared 65% federal, 35% local sponsor. The maximum federal expenditure per project is $10 million, which includes both planning and construction costs. Costs of lands, easements and project operation and maintenance are non-federal costs. Section 206 allows the non-federal sponsor credit for certain work-in-kind, including feasibility study, design work, provision of materials and construction activities. Work-in-kind is work performed by the non-federal sponsor either by their staff or through a contract they administer.  

After a state or local agency requests a potential project, the Corps conducts a preliminary study to determine if there is a federal interest. If the Corps headquarters office approves this effort, a feasibility study begins at federal expense. The feasibility study is conducted to define the problem; identify potential solutions; analyze the costs, benefits and environmental impacts of the alternatives; and select a plan. In addition to the study, a draft project partnership agreement is drawn up by which the federal government and the sponsor agree to share project costs. No more than two years should pass between the start of the study and the time the project is ready for construction.

Local Responsibilities

A non-federal sponsor for a Section 206 project must be a public agency with the legal and financial capability to fulfill the requirements of cost sharing and local cooperation. The sponsor generally must agree to the following:

  • Cost share equally in cash or work-in-kind for feasibility study costs greater than $100,000.
  • Provide all lands, easements, rights-of-way, relocations and dredged material disposal areas.
  • Provide any additional cash contributions needed to make the sponsor’s share of the cost 35%.
  • Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction and maintenance of the project, except damages due to the fault or negligence of the United States or its contractors.
  • Provide all access routes and relocations of utilities necessary for project construction and for operation and maintenance.
  • Comply with the provisions of pertinent federal acts in carrying out the specified non-federal responsibilities of the project. Maintain, operate, repair, replace and rehabilitate the project after completion in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Army.

How to Request a Study

An investigation under Section 206 may be initiated after receipt of a formal request from the prospective sponsoring agency.  An example of an acceptable resolution is shown below.

The resolution requesting a study and any inquiries related to an aquatic ecosystem restoration project should be directed to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District

ATTN: Project Management

332 Minnesota St Suite E1500

St. Paul, Minnesota 55101-1323

For more information contact: Nate Wallerstedt

(651) 290-5477


Sample Resolution

Dear Sir,

This letter is to request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 to determine the feasibility of an aquatic ecosystem restoration project at (location).

(Briefly describe the nature of the aquatic ecosystem restoration and any issues that might affect the acceptability of any recommended solutions, from the perspective of local government and/or the public.)

It is understood that, if it were found feasible and advisable to develop an aquatic ecosystem restoration project at (location), the (non-federal sponsor) would be required to provide the local cooperation and cost sharing prescribed by the Secretary of the Army.

                                                                                                           Sincerely, (name and title of public official authorized to request the study)