In letters to the president, Congress and governors, the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) reported the results of the Third National Water Resources Policy Dialogue, and called on these leaders to immediately address growing and severe national water challenges that range from increasing flood damages, more frequent droughts, and water pollution to decreasing attention to environmental problems and major infrastructure renewal shortfalls that threaten water systems throughout the country.
The dialogue was held in Arlington, Va. on January 22-23, 2007 and was sponsored by AWRA, 12 federal agencies and 31 regional and non- governmental organizations. It brought together water experts from across the nation to hear from key federal, state, and local officials and to identify issues that needed to be brought to the attention of governments. Participants in the dialogue included Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Assistant
Secretary of the Army John Paul Woodley, FEMA Mitigation Director David Maurstad, Congressmen John Linder (R-Ga.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Pennsylvania Secretary of Environmental Protection Kathleen McGinty, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger, George Kuper, president of the Council of Great Lakes Industries, and Steve McCormick, president/CEO of the Nature Conservancy.
The letters note the strong sense within the dialogue that the center of gravity for national water actions should rest at the state level and be backed by appropriate support from the federal government. They urge immediate action by the Bush administration, Congress, and all governors to address a few key proposals.
First, the letters emphasized an urgent requirement for a national assessment of water resources needs–it has been 30 years since the last national assessment. Next, they urged the parties to work together to establish a national vision for water management that can be translated into water policies that clearly define the roles and responsibilities of federal, state and local governments and the public, with respect to water and the goals and objectives that would establish a blueprint for future actions. Third, the the government needs to better coordinate water resources activities. Efforts of federal agencies overlap. The actions of the numerous Congressional committees similarly overlap and create conflicts. Fourth, government agencies were told to encourage policies that promote watershed planning and change policies that do not. Finally, the government is to ensure that the nation's vast scientific knowledge about water is available, clearly presented, and fully considered by all when making decisions.
The letters can be read in full at http://www.awra.org/news/0702press_release.pdf .