CONFRONTING THE NATION’S WATER PROBLEMS

The Role of Research

Committee on Assessment of Water Resources Research

Water Science and Technology Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu



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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research CONFRONTING THE NATION’S WATER PROBLEMS The Role of Research Committee on Assessment of Water Resources Research Water Science and Technology Board Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 02HQAG0086 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Geological Survey. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-09258-2 (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-53335-X (PDF) Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2004112038 Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research is available from National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research COMMITTEE ON ASSESSMENT OF WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH HENRY J. VAUX, JR., Chair, University of California, Berkeley J. DAVID ALLAN, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor JAMES CROOK, Water Reuse Consultant, Norwell, Massachusetts JOAN G. EHRENFELD, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey KONSTANTINE P. GEORGAKAKOS, Hydrologic Research Center, San Diego, California DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, The RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia GEORGE R. HALLBERG, Cadmus Group, Inc., Watertown, Massachusetts LAWRENCE J. MacDONNELL, Porzak, Browning & Bushong, Boulder, Colorado THOMAS K. MacVICAR, MacVicar, Federico and Lamb, Inc., West Palm Beach, Florida REBECCA T. PARKIN, The George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C. ROGER K. PATTERSON, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Lincoln FRANKLIN W. SCHWARTZ, The Ohio State University, Columbus AMY K. ZANDER, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York NRC Staff LAURA J. EHLERS, Study Director ANITA A. HALL, Program Associate

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD RICHARD G. LUTHY, Chair, Stanford University, Stanford, California JOAN B. ROSE, Vice Chair, Michigan State University, East Lansing RICHELLE M. ALLEN-KING, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York GREGORY B. BAECHER, University of Maryland, College Park KENNETH R. BRADBURY, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Madison JAMES CROOK, Water Reuse Consultant, Norwell, Massachusetts EFI FOUFOULA-GEORGIOU, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis PETER GLEICK, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, California JOHN LETEY, JR., University of California, Riverside CHRISTINE L. MOE, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia ROBERT PERCIASEPE, National Audubon Society, Washington, D.C. JERALD L. SCHNOOR, University of Iowa, Iowa City LEONARD SHABMAN, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. R. RHODES TRUSSELL, Trussell Technologies, Inc., Pasadena, California KARL K. TUREKIAN, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut HAME M. WATT, Independent Consultant, Washington, D.C. JAMES L. WESCOAT, JR., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign NRC Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Program Officer JEFFREY W. JACOBS, Senior Program Officer WILLIAM S. LOGAN, Senior Program Officer LAUREN E. ALEXANDER, Program Officer MARK C. GIBSON, Program Officer STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Program Officer M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Financial and Administrative Associate ELLEN A. DE GUZMAN, Research Associate PATRICIA JONES KERSHAW, Study/Research Associate ANITA A. HALL, Program Associate DOROTHY K. WEIR, Senior Program Assistant

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research Preface At the dawn of the 21st century the United States faces a panoply of water problems that are significantly more numerous, complex, and larger in scope than those of the past. Serious issues about how water resources are to be protected and managed are not confined to one or several regions; they are found nationwide. Increasingly, the science needed to resolve these water issues in workable ways is not available. Thus, for example, efforts to resolve water allocation problems that stem from the need to protect endangered species in the Klamath and Missouri River basins are being constrained by the lack of good scientific information upon which to base policies which will simultaneously protect biodiversity and minimize adverse economic consequences. Efforts to protect and enhance water quality are similarly hamstrung by the absence of scientific information which would allow water managers to respond proactively to both new and existing threats. And, despite the importance of aquatic ecosystems in generating both service and amenity values, our scientific understanding of how such systems function is rudimentary. This report, which was undertaken at the request of Congress, illuminates the state of the water resources research enterprise in the United States. It is the logical sequel to an earlier volume entitled: Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the Twenty-First Century, prepared by the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council (NRC). The purpose of the present report is to: refine and enhance the findings of the Envisioning report

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research examine current and historical patterns and magnitudes of investment in water resources research at the federal level and assess its adequacy address the need to better coordinate the nation’s water resources research enterprise identify institutional options for the improved coordination, prioritization and implementation of research on water resources Thus, the report discusses the history of federal support of water resources research, it proposes a framework for prioritizing the research agenda, it reports the results of a survey which was intended to describe the characteristics of the current national research effort, and it addresses issues related to the future organization of water resources research at the federal level. Because the NRC committee assembled to conduct the study was charged with examining the water resources research enterprise in the United States, the report does not encompass international water resources research endeavors, including those research efforts funded by American agencies in foreign countries. The committee acknowledges that some future review might usefully take an international perspective. The committee found that federal investment in water resources research has remained essentially static (in real terms) for more than 30 years. Moreover, water research is accomplished in a highly decentralized fashion with numerous federal agencies setting research agendas independently of each other. Much of that research is focused on operational and near-term problems, with less attention and fewer resources devoted to longer-term, more fundamental research. There are a number of circumstances that suggest a priori that the nation’s water resources research enterprise is not as well organized and financed as it will need to be if the science required to address the multiplying water problems confronting the United States is to be available. In developing this report, the committee benefited greatly from the advice and input of a companion group of federal agency and non-governmental organization liaisons established for the purpose of assisting the committee. Individual liaisons are identified in Appendix F. The committee also benefited from discussions held with a group of state representatives at its second meeting in January 2003. The list of state representatives can be found in Appendix D. We thank all those who took time to share with us their perspectives and wisdom about the various issues affecting the water resources research enterprise. The committee was ably served by the staff of the Water Science and Technology Board and its director, Stephen Parker. Study director Laura Ehlers kept the committee on task and on time and provided her own valuable insights which have improved the report immeasurably. Anita Hall provided the committee with all manner of support in a timely and cheerful way. This report would not have been possible without the help of these people. This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with the procedures approved by

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviews and draft manuscripts remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: John Boland, Johns Hopkins University; Patrick Brezonik, University of Minnesota; Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University; Gerald E. Galloway, Titan Corporation; Peter H. Gleick, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security; Bernard Goldstein, University of Pittsburgh; George M. Hornberger, University of Virginia; Judy L. Meyer, University of Georgia; and James Westcoat, University of Illinois. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Floyd E. Bloom, The Scripps Research Institute, and Daniel P. Loucks, Cornell University. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the committee. Henry Vaux, Jr. Chair

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   SETTING THE STAGE   15      Issues of Concern in Water Resources,   16      Why Publicly Supported Research?,   23      Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research,   29      Statement of Task and Report Road Map,   30      References,   31 2   THE EVOLVING FEDERAL ROLE IN SUPPORT OF WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH   34      National Interests in Water,   34      Federal Support of Water Resources Research,   41      Summary,   54      References,   62 3   WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH PRIORITIES FOR THE FUTURE   64      A Method for Setting Priorities of a National Research Agenda,   68      Themes of Future Water Resources Research,   74      Interdisciplinary Nature of Research,   75      Broad Systems Context,   78      Uncertainty,   83      Adaptation,   85

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research      Limitations to the Current Water Resources Research Enterprise,   90      Conclusions and Recommendations,   91      References,   92 4   STATUS AND EVALUATION OF WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH IN THE UNITED STATES   97      Survey of Water Resources Research,   97      Old FCCSET Data,   102      Water Resources Research from 1965 to 2001,   105      Evaluation of the Current Investment in Water Resources Research,   160      Conclusions and Recommendations,   175      References,   177 5   DATA COLLECTION AND MONITORING   179      Challenges in Monitoring,   180      Opportunities in Monitoring,   182      Status of Key Monitoring Programs,   184      Conclusions and Recommendations,   193      References,   196 6   COORDINATION OF WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH   199      Encouragement/Discouragements of Coordination,   200      Purposes of Coordination,   203      A Brief Review of Coordination of Federal Water Resources Research,   205      Options for Improved Analysis, Strategic Planning, and Coordination,   206      Issues of Vertical Coordination,   212      Conclusions and Recommendations,   212      References,   214     APPENDIXES         A   MODIFIED FCCSET WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH CATEGORIES   217     B   SURVEY DATA FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES AND NONFEDERAL ORGANIZATIONS   229     C   LIKELIHOOD OF DIFFERENCE IN U.S. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH FUNDING LEVELS BETWEEN THE MID 1970s AND THE LATE 1990s   268

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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research     D   SUMMARY OF STATE PERSPECTIVES   283     E   CHARTER OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER AVAILABILITY AND QUALITY   288     F   FEDERAL AGENCY AND NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION LIAISONS   299     G   ACRONYMS   301     H   BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND STAFF   305

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