Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Lack of Federal Water Policy Jeopardizes Our Most Precious Resource

Climate

Pacific Institute

The Midwest is in the midst of the most intense drought since the 1950s, with nearly 1,400 counties declared disaster areas—on the heels of recent devastating droughts in California and Texas. Conflicts among states sharing water resources are growing. Climate changes are increasingly apparent and affecting water supply and demand. New contaminants threaten the nation’s water quality. Old water infrastructure is in need of repair and upgrading. Yet politicians and policymakers are not focusing on the nation’s water problems. It is more critical than ever before that the U.S. develop a cohesive national water policy to manage our most vital resource.

In the new book from Oxford University Press, A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy, leading thinkers at the Pacific Institute, the world-renowned water research institution, present clear and readable analysis and recommendations for a new federal water policy to confront our national and global challenges.

“The inability of national policymakers to safeguard our water jeopardizes something crucial that most of us take for granted: affordable, reliable and safe water,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith, lead author of the work.

“In writing this book, we worked with communities suffering the consequences of ineffective and under-enforced water policies. We highlight their stories—from communities exposed to nitrate-contaminated drinking water in California’s Central Valley to communities lacking access to basic drinking water services in Detroit, Michigan to communities uniting for better stormwater management in Syracuse, New York.”

“The nation desperately needs a coherent and consistent national water policy. Water is a local resource, yet it has major implications for the economy and security of the nation,” according to Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute and a co-author of the book.

“While most water management typically occurs at the local or regional level, the federal government must play a more effective role in setting consistent national standards and regulations, providing funding for basic research on issues of national interest, intervening in legal disputes among the states, participating in international water policy, and helping to ensure that states and municipalities are able to meet future water challenges.”

William K. Reilly, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President George H.W. Bush, calls the new book “a blueprint for reform. Those who care about the country’s water resource policy in all its manifestations would do well to take the themes to heart.” Reilly provided the Foreword to the book.

A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy argues that the responsibility for properly protecting and managing the nation’s freshwater is not being adequately fulfilled by the diverse federal agencies responsible for them. In some cases, agencies have overlapping and conflicting authorities. In other instances, the executive branch has failed to request sufficient funds to protect and manage our water resources, or the legislative branch has failed to appropriate and allocate those funds.

As Gleick notes, “Our water policies have not been updated to account for advances in our scientific and technical understanding of both water problems and solutions. All of this leads to the need for a new 21st century water policy.”

The book offers key recommendations for a new national water policy, including:

  • Updating current federal water laws and expanding measurement, monitoring, and enforcement.
  • Combining and coordinating fragmented federal water agencies and programs into a national strategy for water resources.
  • Eliminating inappropriate subsidies and inappropriate federal pricing policies for water.
  • Applying environmental justice principles comprehensively in federal water policies to ensure equitable access to water.
  • Integrating the risks of climate change into all federal water facility planning, design, and operation, as well as emergency planning for droughts and floods.
  • Integrating U.S. water policy with other federal resource policies, especially energy, disaster response, and land management.
  • Reviving River Basin Commissions and requiring river basin planning on rivers shared by two or more states.

A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy provides the first independent assessment of water issues and water management in the United States in many decades, addressing emerging and persistent water challenges from the perspectives of science, public policy, environmental justice, economics, and law. With case studies and first-person accounts of what helps and hinders good water management, the Pacific Institute frames challenges that define our current water issues and offers solutions.

The coauthors, with Juliet Christian-Smith and Peter Gleick, are Heather Cooley, Lucy Allen, Amy Vanderwarker and Kate A. Berry. The Introduction and Chapter 3: Water and Environmental Justice are available on the Pacific Institute website as are a video with the lead authors and a Curriculum Guide. The book is available through Oxford University Press, on Amazon, and through your local bookstore.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

--------

The Pacific Institute is one of the world’s leading nonprofit research organizations working to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Based in Oakland, Calif., the Institute staff conduct interdisciplinary research and partner with stakeholders to produce solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity—in California, nationally, and internationally.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Daniel Yetman

Bleach and vinegar are common household cleaners used to disinfect surfaces, cut through grime, and get rid of stains. Even though many people have both these cleaners in their homes, mixing them together is potentially dangerous and should be avoided.

Read More Show Less
During a protest action on May 30 in North Rhine-Westphalia, Datteln in front of the site of the Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant, Greenpeace activists projected the lettering: "Climate crisis - Made in Germany" onto the cooling tower. Guido Kirchner / picture alliance / Getty Images

Around 500 climate activists on Saturday gathered outside the new Datteln 4 coal power plant in Germany's Ruhr region, to protest against its opening.

Read More Show Less
Dr. Mark Brunswick (2R), Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality, walks through the lab at Sorrento Therapeutics in San Diego, California on May 22. ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Ries

Around the world, there have been several cases of people recovering from COVID-19 only to later test positive again and appear to have another infection.

Read More Show Less

By Samantha Hepburn

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 — Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

Read More Show Less
Meadow Lake wind farm in Indiana. Anthony / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The first official tallies are in: Coronavirus-related shutdowns helped slash daily global emissions of carbon dioxide by 14 percent in April. But the drop won't last, and experts estimate that annual emissions of the greenhouse gas are likely to fall only about 7 percent this year.

Read More Show Less
Andrey Nikitin / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst

Plants are awesome. They brighten up your space and give you a living thing you can talk to when there are no humans in sight.

Turns out, having enough of the right plants can also add moisture (aka humidify) indoor air, which can have a ton of health benefits.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
Read More Show Less