Water Resources in the Next Decade

February 7, 2008 | Posted by Earl Spangenberg
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How is your crystal ball?

I don’t think that any of us would be willing to say with confidence
that we can foresee exactly the nature or magnitude of the concerns we
will face within the next two or three years, let alone the next ten years.

IMPACT’s Associate Editors know no better than anyone else what
the future may hold, but knowing that we have access to some of the more
forward-looking minds in the water resources profession, the editors have
begun a project designed to develop an idea of what the future might bring.

We are initiating a three-year project to develop a broad-based AWRA-member-driven picture of concerns to be expected within the next decade. Following is the time-line for the project.

2007

This year, the Associate Editors have compiled a list of the “Top 10”
water resource concerns we think might be expected in the next decade.
The list, published below, is designed as a starting point.

2008

For each issue in 2008, we will ask two authorities in the water resources
field to write brief comments on one or two expected concerns, and why
they are significant. We will be tapping AWRA members, but we will also
reach beyond AWRA for some “outside” input. The comments may either be
on candidates from the Associate Editors’ Top Ten List or they may be
on concerns the comment writers choose themselves. The compiled comments will be published in the November 2008 issue. We will have an IMPACT roundtable involving several Associate Editors and some of the commentators at the 2008 Annual Conference.

2009

Starting with January 2009, and continuing through September 2009, we
will solicit responses from AWRA members about water resources concerns
in the next decade. We will use an e-mail questionnaire, and we will solicit
e-mail and land mail responses. We will publish the results in the November
2009 issue. The 2009 Annual Conference will feature an IMPACT roundtable
featuring some of the commentators from 2008, IMPACT Associate
Editors, and AWRA Board Members. Panelists at the roundtable will reflect
on the results of the three-year project, and on the implications of the
information for resource policy and planning at the local, state, and
national level.

Ten Water Resource Concerns for the Next Decade

1. Water Resources Sustainability – We need to learn more of
the requirements for sustainable water development, and work to develop
a national consciousness of sustainability.

2. Water Resources Education and Information – We need to evaluate
and encourage expansion of advances in water resources education in elementary
schools and secondary schools, and at the college and university levels.
Further, we need to develop water resources education and public awareness programs beyond and outside the schools to better communicate technological concepts about water to the public.

3. Water Resources and Climate – We need to determine how climate
change/global warming will affect sustainable fresh water supplies, and
how water storage and conveyance systems will be affected. In addition,
we need to evaluate the potential concomitant impacts on water planning
and management programs, and on shoreline planning.

4. Global Water Problems – We need to address the problems associated
with the availability of drinking water and adequate sanitation in the
developing world, with local emphasis on security of fresh water storage
and distribution systems; and regional emphasis on investigation of new
policy frameworks over multi-jurisdictional areas.

5. Infrastructure Concerns – We need to address the problems of
aging infrastructure at all levels with particular reference to concerns
for infrastructure financing as affected by such factors as resistance
to rational pricing to support development.

6. Watershed Management Problems – As state and local government
move towards adoption of watershed management and protection programs,
we will need to evaluate such things as the nature of broad-scale management planning in fragmented ownerships, and the implications for private property rights.

7. Institutional Effects on Water Availability – We need to look
further into the concept of privatization of water resources to see if
it is a viable solution to enhancing availability; and we need to investigate
the potential impact of states moving to prior appropriation concepts
in water law. We need to determine the relative value/impact of making
local proven water supplies the controlling factor in development versus
moving water from where it is located to where demand exists.

8. Concerns in Water Resources Management Decisions – We need
to evaluate the possibilities of incorporating new technologies and concepts
such as risk analysis into water resources decision making, and we need
to continue to develop tools for measuring the accuracy of water resources
forecasting. We need to evaluate and account for the impact of special
interest group influences in Congressional deliberations.

9. Water and Energy - The production of energy requires significant
amounts of our fresh water resources. We need to research potential water
savings in the production of energy.

10. Concerns About Water Quality - As detection limits are enhanced,
trace amounts of many constituents not previously found in water are being
detected. We need to reexamine water quality standards in light of these
emerging contaminants.


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