Another (see the Drought report) recent (7 August 2012) report
from the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress: Selected Federal Water Activities: Agencies, Authorities, and Congressional Committees. The authors are Betsy A. Cody, Judy Schenider, Mary Tiemann, and Grace Relf.
Betsy co-authored the excellent 2009 CRS report, 35 Years of Water Policy: The 1973 National Water Commission and Present Challenges.
Shill alert! I know Betsy and I think she walks on water when it comes to water. Because of her and people like her, the CRS is a national treasure!
Today's post will be extremely useful in ascertaining who does what with respect to water in Congress and the Executive Branch, not an easy task.
Here is the PDF:
Here is a summary:
Congress has enacted hundreds of federal laws affecting the nation’s water resources and continues to address numerous water-related issues annually. From responding to natural disasters such as droughts and floods, to improving water resources and water quality infrastructure and protecting fish and wildlife, many congressional committees are involved in legislating, funding, and overseeing the water-related activities of numerous federal agencies. Nearly two centuries of such activity have resulted in a complex web of federal involvement in water resource management and use.
Although the responsibility for development, management, protection, and allocation of the nation’s water resources is spread among federal, state, local, tribal, and private interests, this report focuses on the complexity of federal activities related to water. The report covers multiple topic areas and individual water-related subtopics ranging from water supply and water quality infrastructure to fisheries management and water rights. The report is not exhaustive; instead, the authors have attempted to cover the major federal activities authorized by Congress that affect water resource development, management, and use in the United States. Similarly, the analysis does not cover every aspect of House and Senate committee jurisdiction affecting water issues. Accordingly, it may be helpful to seek the views of the House and Senate Parliamentarian Offices for a more definitive evaluation of committee jurisdictions related to water.
The report covers four general areas: (1) “Water Resources Development, Management, and Use” (2) “Water Quality, Protection, and Restoration” (3) “Water Rights and Allocation,” and (4) “Research and Planning.” These are further divided into tables that list topic areas and individual water-related subtopics. For each subtopic, CRS has identified selected federal agencies and activities related to the topic, authorities for such activities, and relevant House and Senate committee jurisdictions. The “Water Resources Development, Management, and Use” theme includes subtopics that relate to supply and reservoir development, drought and flood management, and hydropower and navigation. The “Water Quality, Protection, and Restoration” theme includes issues relating to water quality (e.g., water pollution and treatment, drinking water quality) and aquatic resources protection and management. The “Water Rights and Allocation” theme addresses water allocation and interstate compacts, river basin commissions, federal reserved water rights, and tribal water rights. The “Research and Planning” theme includes subtopics related to research and data collection, including water cycle and climate change research, and watershed planning. Appendixes address considerations in determining House and Senate committee jurisdictions and present the official language from House Rule X and Senate Rule XXV, respectively, as indicators of congressional jurisdiction over water resources. A glossary of House and Senate Committee abbreviations and federal agency acronyms is also included.
In sum, the nine tables that make up the body of the document underscore the complexity of federal activities affecting water resource development, management, protection, and use in the United States. As apparent throughout these tables, numerous standing committees in the House and Senate have jurisdiction over various components of federal water policy. The wide range of federal executive responsibilities for water resources reflects comparably complex congressional legislative responsibilities, which in turn reflect the multiple ways in which water laws affect social and economic activities and vice versa.
For those of us interested in changing the way we think about and manage water in the USA, this report is simultaneously helpful and depressing. The fact that water affects so many facets of human society and nature is both a blessing and a curse. You want to change things about water? Better have a huge table, because you will have a lot of people at the table.
"Absence of proof is not proof of absence." - Geoffrey Thyne, referring to the fact that lack of data on hydrofracking contamination of groundwater is not proof that such contamination is absent.