The Committee for a National Water Policy is a network of public officials officials, policy advocates, research scientists, and supporters of a comprehensive integrated water policy for the United States.
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A comprehensive integrated national water policy is needed to develop ways to increase water supplies and improve the availability, reliability, and quality of freshwater resources to meet critical municipal, industrial, agricultural, energy, security and environmental needs. The policy needs to coordinate the activity of federal agencies with the States, Tribes, and local public and private entities responsible for water management.
Throughout the history of the United States, the federal government has never held an official position regarding the nation’s water policy as a means by which municipalities and water providers derive their mission statements and formulate their actions. Historically water resource planning has been assigned a low priority at the federal level; however, water resource management must finally be addressed and accurately prioritized from a federal perspective now more than ever. Currently there is not a solid understanding of our national water resources, either aboveground or underground, held in our nation’s aquifer system.
The federal government must increase its interest in water resource management as communities in both the drought-stricken Southwest and the East face water supply shortages, especially when considering the fact that the Southwest is currently exhibiting the fastest regional growth in the nation. This obvious need to expand both federal and non-federal efforts to integrate water resources management, augment supplies, and address legislative inconsistencies has generated an effort to coordinate a comprehensive national water policy, so an integrated federal policy on water resources is critical.
Under the supervision of the Office of Science and Technology, the Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality (SWAQ) in 2004, identified a need for a comprehensive assessment of water availability and use. An examination of trends related to both is overdue. Without quantifiable and scientifically defensible estimates of environmental water requirements, intense competition among irrigation, navigation, municipal supply, energy, and the environment is not likely to be resolved. The subcommittee’s study also called for the additional study of untapped water resources through further research and development of water recycling, desalination, aquifer storage and recovery as well as a thorough understanding of socioeconomic factors attributed to the demand and usage of water resources by the general public and industry.1
The American Water Resources Association recommends the creation of another water policy commission to define our national goals for maintaining sustainable water resources in cooperation with state, tribal, and local governments. AWRA also calls for an assessment of the Nation’s water resources to determine critical needs and vulnerabilities as well as reevaluating existing federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders to identify conflicting language and inconsistencies and to recommend legislative actions needed to harmonize water policy.
The 2005 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s workshop on water resources addressed similar topics, echoing a need to “reconcile the myriad laws, executive orders, and congressional guidance that have created disjointed ad-hoc national water policy.”