Peter H. Gleick, co-founder and President of the Pacific Institute, wrote the following in his HuffPostGreen blog yesterday. He informs the next President of 4 challenges and 16 recommendations to address those challenges.
For what it's worth, four years ago I recommended to the new President to appoint Gleick as White House Water Advisor. My advice was not followed. I will likely try again this year.
For your consideration, here are 16 key recommendations for addressing the nation's 21st century freshwater challenges at the federal level.
Challenge 1: Develop a 21st Century National Water Policy
1. Constitute a new national, bipartisan Water Commission for the 21st Century to evaluate and recommend changes to national water policy.
2. Work with Congress to update and strengthen the nation's two most important water laws: The national Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. These laws must be updated to ensure the integrity of the nation's water resources, protect the public against new contaminants, help meet the needs of rural and vulnerable communities, and permit the use of new technologies.
3. Reorganize and streamline the diverse and uncoordinated federal water responsibilities and expand the collection of water-use and water-quality data.
4. Reinvigorate and expand investment in our drinking water and wastewater treatment system through bonds, tax incentives, and direct support for small communities.
5. Work with Congress to pass legislation to expand incentives to improve the productivity of our water use and reduce wasteful use of water, through the Farm Bill, trade laws, plumbing codes, and tax code revisions.
6. Establish a process for setting and enforcing environmental flows for all major river systems.
Challenge 2: Spotlight National Security Issues Related to Water
7. Explicitly monitor and track water-related threats to security and U.S. interests.
8. Conduct a series of integrated workshops within the War College system, the State Department, CIA, Homeland Security, and other agencies on critical water security challenges, including the vulnerability of U.S. water systems to terrorism and regional threats.
9. Reduce the risks of international water-related conflicts by expanding appropriate diplomatic resources within the State Department.
10. Reduce the risks of domestic water-related terrorism by working with local and regional water agencies to identify and reduce vulnerabilities.
Challenge 3: Expand the Role of the U.S. in Addressing Global Water Problems
11. Refocus U.S. international aid spending priorities toward meeting basic water needs for both humans and natural ecosystems in conjunction with efforts of international non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
12. Increase efforts to monitor water quality and water-related diseases so that outbreaks both here and abroad, such as the recent cholera epidemic in Haiti, can be quickly identified and addressed.
13. Expand the scientific, educational, and financial leadership of the U.S. in addressing unmet needs for water for all.
Challenge 4: Integrate Climate Change Risks into All Federal Water Planning and Activity
14. Expand efforts to assess the growing impacts of unavoidable climate change on U.S. water resources.
15. Improve the smart management of both energy and water resources at the federal level: We can reduce the amount of water needed to produce the nation's energy, and we can reduce the amount of energy needed to produce, deliver, and treat our water.
16. Integrate strategies for adapting to unavoidable climate change into all federal water decisions, planning, and management, including new construction and the operation of existing water systems and reservoirs.
I wholeheartedly support Gleick's recommendations. As part of #1, I'd ask the President to ensure that the new Natonal Water Commissioners (NWC) and staff read the 1973 report and recommendations of the last National Water Commission and the more recent 2009 report by Betsy Cody and Nicole Carter. And the summary of the AWRA policy dialogues. The NWC should also examine the Endangered Species Act and its use as a proxy for a national water policy.
And...enough said for now!
"The US does have a water policy and vision: it’s to have no water policy or water vision." – Gerry Galloway, former AWRA President