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Cost/Benefit Analysis

"Missouri Style"

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the major civil works organizations in the US - if not the largest.

They were behind the construction of the TVA, etc. Principally, they are involved with water management projects - dams, etc.

A projected dam was to be in the Missouri/Ozarks region and the Corps was doing the reputed "cost/benefit analysis."

One of the CE personnel was in the area doing some 'field evaluations' for the project and came upon one of the local farmers.

After the 'howdies, etc' the farmer asked what the CE was doing there - and it was explained to him that the first step was to count all the plusses and minuses in this cost/benefit study and see whether the project was worthwhile. The CE fellow explained the intangibles like water recreation, family displacement because of the coming reservoir, etc. and made it clear how difficult the process was.

The farmer puffed on his corn cob pipe and thought a bit - and said - "you know, we have a similar method around these parts - - if we want to know how much an old sow weighs, we get a long pole and put it over a fence - then we put the sow on one end and pile stones on the other until the pole is just level - then we guess how much the stones weigh."

Told in the Resources Management Seminar in the School of Natural Resources/University of Michigan/Ann Arbor - Professors Ayers Brinser and Lee Martin.

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