The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a federal law that requires the identification and analysis of potential environmental effects of major proposed federal actions and alternatives before those actions take place. NEPA assures that environmental factors are considered equally with the technical and engineering components of a decision. NEPA requires federal agencies to identify all potential environmental effects and any adverse effects that cannot be avoided and to evaluate alternatives to the proposed action.
NEPA is a "full disclosure" law with provisions for public access to and full participation in the federal decision-making process. The act's intent is to protect, restore, or enhance the environment through well-informed federal decisions. There were three major NEPA compliance documents associated with this action:
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) - Prepared to evaluate and analyze significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts of alternative actions and distributed for public comment. It includes analyses of effects on natural resources (water, air, plants, and animals), cultural resources, land use, recreation, aesthetics, and the socioeconomic environment. The EIS also includes a description of the baseline environmental and socioeconomic conditions against which effects of the proposed action were evaluated. It also identifies potential consequences and appropriate mitigation (methods to lessen adverse impacts) measures.
Final Environmental Impact Statement - Prepared to address public, State and Federal agency comments on the DEIS.
Record of Decision (ROD) - The EIS was signed and the Water Control Manuals for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa Rivers Basin were approved on May 4, 2015. The ROD documents the final decision on the proposed action in regards to the update of the ACT Basin Master WCM and the individual project WCMs, summarize alternatives that were considered and relevant factors that were balanced in making the decision, and identifies means that have been adopted to mitigate for adverse effects.