There shall be organized in the office of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, by detail from time to time from the Corps of Engineers, a board of seven engineer officers, a majority of whom shall be of rank not less than lieutenant colonel, whose duties shall be fixed by the Chief of Engineers, and to whom shall be referred for consideration and recommendation, in addition to any other duties assigned, so far as in the opinion of the Chief of Engineers may be necessary, all reports upon examinations and surveys provided for by Congress, and all projects or changes in projects for works of river and harbor improvement prior to June 13, 1902, or thereafter provided for. And the board shall submit to the Chief of Engineers recommendations as to the desirability of commencing or continuing any and all improvements upon which reports are required. And in the consideration of such works and projects the board shall have in view the amount and character of commerce existing or reasonably prospective which will be benefited by the improvement, and the relation of the ultimate cost of such work, both as to cost of construction and maintenance, to the public commercial interests involved, and the public necessity for the work and propriety of its construction, continuance, or maintenance at the expense of the United States. And such consideration shall be given as time permits to such works as have, prior to June 13, 1902, been provided for by Congress, the same as in the case of new works proposed. The board shall, when it considers the same necessary, and with the sanction and under orders from the Chief of Engineers, make, as a board or through its members, personal examinations of localities. And all facts, information, and arguments which are presented to the board for its consideration in connection with any matter referred to it by the Chief of Engineers shall be reduced to and submitted in writing, and made a part of the records of the office of the Chief of Engineers. It shall further be the duty of said board, upon a request transmitted to the Chief of Engineers by the Committee on Public Works and Transportation of the House of Representatives, or the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate, in the same manner to examine and report through the Chief of Engineers upon any projects adopted, prior to June 13, 1902, by the Government or upon which appropriations have been made, and report upon the desirability of continuing the same or upon any modifications thereof which may be deemed desirable. As used in this section the term “commerce” shall include the use of waterways by seasonal passenger craft, yachts, house boats, fishing boats, motor boats, and other similar water craft, whether or not operated for hire.
The board shall have authority, with the approval of the Chief of Engineers, to rent quarters, if necessary, for the proper transaction of its business, and to employ such civil employees as may, in the opinion of the Chief of Engineers, be required for properly transacting the business assigned to it, and the necessary expenses of the board shall be paid from allotments made by the Chief of Engineers from any appropriations made by Congress for the work or works to which the duties of the board pertain.