At the outset, "co prehensive development" must be given
a fixed meaning. For the term has been so employed, both in
statutes and by age cies administering them, as to connote a
variety of definitions Sometimes it is used seemingly to denote
a plan of developme t of a single river for a particular purpose,
such as a "compreh nsive" flood-control plan. Or at other
times, alike basin-wide plan. It has also been used to describe
a composite plan related predominantly to the specialized a'-
tivities of two or m're agencies, such as the.Army Enginer
and thl Bireau of exclamation. Thus, inclusion of a jiovi
sion that projects be consistent with the "comprehensive de-
velopment" of a riv r sometimes leaves unclear whether the
term refers to development for a specified principal purpose,
such as flood control, or to over-all development to achieve
maximum beneficial use for all purposes.
We believe all iill agree that there should be coordination
of the uses of a river and of the structures in it to fulfill as
many as possible of the sometimes conflicting purposes for
which waters may be used or controlled, and that such uses
should be integrated with land practices in the surrounding
watershed. If this be so, comprehensive development, as ap-
plied to water resources and related land uses, may be defined
as basin-wide development for optimum beneficial uses of a
river system and its watershed. Despite the variations in the
use of the term "comprehensive development," noted above, it
may fairly be said that they all move toward the definition sug-
gested, as we shall see. Since that is so, we shall employ that
definition, unless the context dictates otherwise, in order to
avoid variables as we trace the growth of the concept.
It should be noted that, for various reasons, two or more
basins or one or more basins with adjacent areas have at times
been treated as a single unit for development.
Admittedly, there has often been vigorous disagreement as
to the manner or means of achieving comprehensive develop-
ment. It is not our purpose here to suggest which manner or
means should be adopted. On the contrary, our purpose is to
portray the trend toward comprehensive development, noting
also the legislative framework to which must be fitted ad-
ministrative efforts in the same direction.
There is no single federal policy governing comprehensive
development of water and land resources. Some statutes of
uniform application separately control various aspects or func-
tions. Others are geared to a comprehensive approach, but
focus attention on individual projects, specific areas, or single
rivers. But none is comprehensive and nation-wide in appli-
cation. So far as it:may now be achieved, therefore, compre-
hensive development must depend upon such statutes passed
at different times, devoted to individual segments, and admin-
istered by separate agencies.
Initially, direct, participation of the Federal Government
was usually discharged through the construction and opera-
tion of individual small projects, each designed for a single
purpose. Nonfederal developments authorized by direct ac-
tion of Congress generally had development of power as their
single purpose. A fragmentary legislative approach then
seemed adequate. 'But as the size of river-development struc-
tures increased, the potentiality of their use for many integrated
purposes became obvious. At the same time, as sheer physical
dominion over the rivers was extended, there came a growing
recognition of the interrelationship between the various struc-
tures on the same river system, of the fact that the storage or
release of water at one dam directly affects uses and operations
downstream, and of the fact that electrical and hydraulic in-
tegration permits a series of dams to do more than the same
dams operated independently. And beyond the river itself,
there developed an increasing awareness of the inseparable
effect of land practices in the surrounding watershed upon river
flows and river structures.
With this evolution there arose a general demand for com-
prehensive development of our water and land resources, a
demand answered ,by piecemeal and sometimes inconsistent
changes in law and administrative practice. Wanting a total
answer, the demand continues to find voice in a variety of pro-
posals for further and more complete accommodation of the
framework of law to the need for coordination of efforts to meet
the physical, economic, and social needs dependent upon water
resources and related uses of land.
Any examination of the growth of the comprehensive-de-
velopment concept suggests mixed problems of policy and law.
Through the years, ai increasing measure of responsibility has
been assumed by the Federal Government in the development,
utilization, and conservation of water and related land resources.
In addition to pondering whether that measure should now
be increased or decreased, one may well inquire what laws are
needed today for eeotively discharging federal functions at
the present stage of our economic, social, and technological de-
velopment. Or the inquiry might be divided. What part of
the total task can the Federal Government undertake? What
portions should it undertake?
Our purpose here i$ not to answer those questions, but rather
to lay another part of the foundation for their answers by
summarizing the significant historical developments, together
with a survey of the principal legal aspects of efforts toward
comprehensive development under existing law. As we do so,
it must be borne in mind that the Federal Government is one
of delegated powers, as we earlier noted. But it should also
be remembered that Congress is authorized to make all laws
necessary and proper for carrying into execution all of the
powers vested in the Federal Government.2 Our Constitution
is not a sterile document appealing to historic interest alone.
It is a living charter of government intended and destined to be
For a discussion of constitutional considerations, see Chapter 2, supra,
U. S. CONST., Art I, 1 8, cl. 18.
effective through social, economic, and technological changes,
as our Nation lives ang grows. Thus, as the Supreme Court
said in 1816:
The instrument was not intended to provide merely for
the exigencies of a few years, but was to endure through
a long lapse of ages, the events of which were locked
up in the inscrutable purposes of Providence.
The powers granted by the people to the Federal Govern-
ment carried with them inescapable responsibilities. As we
have seen in previous chapters, Congress has employed its del-
egated powers in assuming a variety of responsibilities in rela-
tion to the development, utilization, and conservation of water
and land resources Thus, it has exercised its commerce power
in regulating, protecting, and improving waterways for navi-
gation use as well as in the control of floods. Its powers under
the Property Clause have been utilized in laying the founda-
tion for reclamation projects in the West. Use has also been
made of the war, treaty-making, and general-welfare powers.
In the exercise of these powers, Congress has additionally pro-
vided for the generation of electric power. Similarly, pro-
vision has incidentally been made for many other public pur-
poses. And statutes seeking to coordinate land practices with
water activities usually have relied, expressly or impliedly,
upon a combination of two or more of these powers.
But the enormity of the problem demands, as Congress has
frequently recognized, coordination of legislative attention and
action by the states and the Federal Government. The rights,
interests, and responsibilities of both must be harmonized for
effective answers. Similarly, cognizance must be taken of in-
dividual rights and interests, and especially of rights to use of
water and land derived under state law.' Account must also
be taken of the possibility of solutions by joint action of two or
more states, but with an eye to legal and practical difficulties
Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 1 Wheat. 804, 826 (U. S. 1816). See also
South (Carolna v. United States, 199 U. S. 437, 448-449 (1905); United
States v. Olassic, 318 U. 8. 22, 816 (1941).
See supra, pp. 82-50. '
such as posed in the recent case of State ex rel. Dyer v. Sime.
Or if one envisages the possibilities of a federal-state entity,
other questions arise For at least four aspects of exiting fed-
eral responsibilities would be involved in any attempt to em-
power such an entity to discharge those responsibilities. These
are the expenditure or distribution of federal funds, adminis-
tration and enforcement of federal statutes, management of
federal property, and appointment of federal officials. There
is precedent for discharge of each of these types of responsi-
bility by nonfederal entities?
In reviewing the growth of the comprehensive-development
idea, we shall first discuss events occurring prior to World
War I, a period when interest in conservation became intense
and nation-wide. The next period, from World War I to the
"depression," evidenced growing attention to basin-wide devel-
opment for previously recognized major purposes, seeking
harmony at the same time with other related uses
The third period, from 1933 to date, saw a number of new
factors come into prominence in the development of river
See epra, pp. 68-70.
'Expenditure or distribution of federal funds: State officials determine
which Institutions are tol obtain funds under Servicemen's Readjustment
At, Act of June 22, 194, 400, 58 Stat 284, 287, 8 U. S. 89, Part VIII
of note following.
Administration and enforcement of federal statutes: Federal Employer's
Liability Act enforceable through state courts, Act of April 22, 190, 6,
85 Stat. 65, 68, as amended, 45 U.. 0. 5. Labor Management Relations
| et, 1947, authorizing NLRB to cede certain jurisdiction to state agencies,
Act of June 28, 1947, 10(a), 61 Stat. 136, 146, 29 U. 0.C. 160(a) (Spp.
III). State may determine neceity for continued federal rent control, Aet
of March 0, 194 a 20(hb), 68 Stat. 1 25.
Management of federal property: Federal military equipment managed
by state National Guard units, Act of May 29,1916, 11 82,83, 87, 89 Stat. 165,
8, S04, as amended, 82 1. 8. C. 83, 47. Government housing and property
may be transferred to and local agencies, Act of December 1, 1945,
502, 59 Stat 674, as ame de 42 U. 1~72. Sustaine d forest units
placed under cooperative federal-state management agreements, Act of
March 29,1, 19 I 8,58 Stat. 12, 138,16 U S. 588c.
Appointment of federal officials: Federal property and disbursing officer
for National Guard appointed by state officials, Act of May 29, 1916, 67,
39 Stat 165, 19,. as amended, 82 U. S. C. 49. Of. Rent Control Advisory
Boards appointed from nominations submitted by state officials, Act of
March 80, 194, I 208(d) (4), 63 Stat. 18,22.
basins. In the early "recovery" part of the period, attention
was focused upon a new aspect of water-resource development
and conservation. Projects were undertaken as a means of
relieving unemployment as well as for-development and con-
servation of natural resources. Also, increased attention was
given to the public utilization of the completed projects under
policies calculated to improve the economic and social welfare
of the Nation. Throughout the whole period, increasing atten-
tion was given to conservation and public protection of ex-
haustible resources, and to planning for their development
on a basin-wide, all-purpose basis with growing reliance upon
Moreover, we shall outline the recent accentuation of interest
in discovering and correcting deficiencies in organization so far
as they relate to comprehensive development.
Finally, since river-basin development has varied from
region to region, we shall take note of the maor significant
aspects of efforts toward comprehensive development in each
of the major regions.
Growth Until World War I
As we saw in preceding chapters, most early river develop-
ments were single in purpose.
EARLY INTEB LAErIoNT OF UsE.-Well before the turn of the
century, however, specific acts of Congress recognized inter-
connection between certain functions in the development of
rivers. An 1879 exaple combines navigation and flood con-
trol.' Likewise, an 1888 statute took cognizance of the inter-
relationship of irrigation and flood control.8 Nor did early
legislation overlook the possibility of relating navigation im-
'See Act of June 28, 1879, 4, 21 Stat. 3, 88, 33 U. S. 647, establishing
the Mississippi River Commission and directing it to survey the river
and develop plans which would "correct, permanently locate, and deepen
the channel and protect the banks of the -Mississippi River; improve and
give safety and ease to the navigation thereof; prevent destructive floods;
promote and facilitate commerce, trade, and the postal service." For later
statutory details concerning navigation and flood control, see supra, pp. 98,
'Act of October 2, 1888, 2 Stat. 505, 526.