A lawsuit accusing the Army Corps of Engineers of systematically violating federal law in planning and building water resources projects is to be filed today in U.S. District Court.

The suit seeks to prevent the corps from acquiring further land to construct the $170 million Stonewall Jackson Dam in Lewis County, W.Va.

The dam was proposed 45 years ago. Some Lewis County residents have been opposing it all along. Their organization, the Upper West Fork River Watershed Associated, has enlisted as coplaintiffs the National Wildlife Federation, the National Taxpayers Union, the Sierra Club and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

According to the association, the suit accuses the corps of making significant changes in the scope and purpose of water projects without seeking required congressional approval, and with making projects appear to be economically justified by consistently misrepresenting their true costs and benefits.

The association contends that although improvements in water quality constitute 47 percent of the corps' justification for the dam, the engineers used an improper method of pollution control to compute those benefits.

A door-to-door survey shows that the dam would displace an estimated 1,800 persons, double the number contemplated when the dam was authorized. The corp plans to take 20,300 acres for the project, compared with 9,925 at the time of authorization, the association alleges.