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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research
Each individual was asked to provide input on three water issues, as listed in boldface below. Instead of presenting the individual responses of each, what follows are brief summaries of all of the responses. For a transcript of a complete state response or a copy of the PowerPoint presentations, contact Laura Ehlers at email@example.com.
1. Provide a brief description of your organization’s responsibilities.
The 12 contributing organizations include state agencies responsible for water administration, public water supply, planning, and data gathering as well as agencies responsible for water and public policy research and an agency responsible for providing metropolitan water supplies.
2. Speaking from the perspective of your state and its water management institutions, what are the most important issues that you are likely to face in the next 10–15 years? Please do not discuss short-term operational problems.
In many instances it was difficult to distinguish a state’s water issues from the water resources research that is needed to address them. Nonetheless, it was clear that important issues span a wide range of topics. Those issues/topics that were mentioned by more than one state include
continuing need for better data collection
meeting the goals of the Endangered Species Act
dealing with future climate change
how to manage groundwater mining
how to take surface water–groundwater interactions into account when setting policy
dealing with droughts and floods
various water quality issues, particularly emerging contaminants and pathogens
Other issues of concern to the states include interstate compact compliance issues, adjudication of water rights, dam safety/aging structures and finding cost-effective ways to deal with infrastructure, vegetation management, land subsidence due to water withdrawals, sedimentation of reservoirs, growing water demand, treatment and disposal of brine from desalination plants, exotic species invasions, and Total Maximum Daily Loads and the general problem of nonpoint source pollution.
3. What kinds of research would be most helpful in providing the knowledge and technology needed to address these long-term issues?