I just received a copy of the Western Governors' Association's 7-page resolution on 'Water Resource Management in the West'.
It's what would be expected form any group of regional governors, but with the Western folks, water does, and always will, take center stage.
Here is the very first item:
State Primacy in Water Management: As the preeminent authority on water management within their boundaries, states have the right to develop, use, control and distribute the surface water and groundwater located within their boundaries, subject to international treaties and interstate agreements and judicial decrees.
Federal Recognition of State Authority: The federal government has long recognized the right to use water as determined under the laws of the various states; Western Governors value their partnerships with federal agencies as they operate under this established legal framework.
While the Western Governors acknowledge the important role of federal laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, nothing in any act of Congress or Executive Branch regulatory action should be construed as affecting or intending to affect states’ primacy over the allocation and administration of their water resources.
Reauthorization of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act, proposed federal surplus water rulemakings, and/or storage reallocation studies should recognize and defer to the states’ legal right to allocate, develop, use, control, and distribute their waters, including but not limited to state storage and use requirements.
Managing State Waters for Environmental Purposes: States and federal agencies should coordinate efforts to avoid, to the extent possible, the listing of water-dependent species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). When ESA listings cannot be avoided, parties should promote the use of existing state tools, such as state conservation plans and in-stream flow protections, to conserve and recover species.
I have no argument with the states' primacy in water management. But then I look at California, which could have used a little nudge from the Feds when it came to statewide groundwater management/oversight. The Feds took this approach with Arizona, and they modified their groundwater management.
The second paragraph of sub-heading (1) and all of sub-heading (2) are patently clear vis-a-vis ESA, CWA and SDWA and similar acts are quite clear.
I could not find any mention of climate change in the resolution, although the WGA does mention some 'synonyms' (??) such as: 'extreme weather variability'; 'diminished water resources'; and 'declining and inconsistent snowpacks'. And, of course, drought is freely mentioned.
It's also good to see an emphasis on integrated water management:
3. Western States Require Innovative and Integrated Water Management. Western Governors believe effective solutions to water resource challenges require an integrated approach among states and with federal, tribal and local partners. Federal investments should assist states in implementing state water plans designed to provide water for municipal, rural, agricultural, industrial and habitat needs, and should provide financial and technical support for development of watershed and river basin water management plans when requested by states.
Integrated water management planning should also account for flood control, water quality protection, and regional water supply systems. Water resource planning must occur within a framework that preserves states’ authority to manage water through policies which recognize state law and the financial, environmental and social values of the water resource to citizens of the western states today and in the future.
I'd feel better if 'aquifer systems' or 'groundwater basins' were included in the last line of the first paragraph.
Also nice to see an emphasis on information and data - Item 4.
Here is a brief report on the WGA's recently-concluded 2015 meeting.
"You are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights for there is not sufficient water to supply the land." - John Wesley Powell, 1893