AWRA Water Blog

Cheryl Ulrich: Sustaining America’s Water Supplies – Developing a National Vision & Strategy

Cheryl Ulrich, Program Manager, Weston Solutions, and member of AWRA’s Policy Technical Committee, penned this article on Sustaining America’s Water Supplies: Developing a National Vision & Strategy”

Here is a teaser:

Why does America need a national vision and strategy for water? Theanswer is because although water is the most critical and strategic natural resource, the U.S. has no national vision for its management. In addition, Americans are the world’s largest water consumers. Threats of an aging infrastructure, climate change and population growth are so significant that the nation can no longer afford to postpone action. In fact, 36 states are expected to have water shortages by 2013. Therefore, it is imperative that a focused effort be articulated and initiated to create a national water vision and strategy in order to sustain U.S. water resources. The country’s future growth and prosperity depend on it.

America’s planning and regulations are fragmented from top to bottom, which results in less than optimal cost and environmental effectiveness. The federal government has more than 20 agencies responsible for understanding and managing water resources. As a result, there is no clear sense of the federal role and little understanding of the gaps and overlaps among agencies. Each state and many tribes have one or more agencies responsible for managing water resources within their areas of jurisdiction. Additionally, hundreds, if not thousands, of public- and private-sector entities manage water resources within the United States. Institutional arrangements with Canada and Mexico also warrant examination. A national water vision and strategy would provide a blueprint for more effective, coordinated management across sectors and levels of government.

Finally, America needs not only to keep up with but also to lead its global trading partners. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and the European Union are examples of jurisdictions that have already developed overarching water policies and strategies designed to address the kinds of challenges facing the United States. It is imperative that the U.S. develops a national vision and strategy of how best to use, protect, fund and manage its water resources.

Be sure to read the rest of the article; it’ll be well worth your time.


“An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.” – Eric Hoffer, from The Week, 10 August 2012

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