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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey TOWARD A SUSTAINABLE AND SECURE WATER FUTURE A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey Committee on Water Resources Activities at the U.S. Geological Survey 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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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey 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. Support for this project was provided by U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey under Cooperative Agreement No. 04HQAG0132. 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 13: 978-0-309-13915-1 International Standard Book Number 10: 0-309-13915-5 Cover design by Michele De La Menardiere, National Academies Press. Photos courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey. Photo of U.S. Geological Survey Frostburg staff at gage by John A. Bone, staff photographer, Cumberland Times-News. Additional copies of this report are available from the 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 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey 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. Ralph J. Cicerone 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. Charles M. Vest 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. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey COMMITTEE ON WATER RESOURCES ACTIVITIES AT THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY GEORGE R. HALLBERG, Chair, The Cadmus Group, Inc., Watertown, Massachusetts LISA ALVAREZ-COHEN, University of California, Berkeley THOMAS DUNNE, University of California, Santa Barbara WILLIAM H. HOOKE, American Meteorological Society, Washington, DC THOMAS L. HUNTZINGER, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, Lawrence, Kansas HOLLY E. RICHTER, The Nature Conservancy, Bisbee, Arizona FRANKLIN W. SCHWARTZ, The Ohio State University, Columbus REBECCA R. SHARITZ, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina DONALD I. SIEGEL, Syracuse University, New York ROLAND C. STEINER, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Laurel, Maryland DAVID G. TARBOTON, Utah State University, Logan Staff LAURA J. HELSABECK, Project Director WILLIAM S. LOGAN, Project Director (until September 2008) ANITA A. HALL, Project Assistant
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD CLAIRE WELTY, Chair, University of Maryland, Baltimore County YU-PING CHIN, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH OTTO C. DOERING, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN JOAN G. EHRENFELD, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey GERALD E. GALLOWAY, University of Maryland, College Park CHARLES N. HAAS, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania KENNETH R. HERD, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville, FL JAMES M. HUGHES, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia KIMBERLY L. JONES, Howard University, Washington, DC MICHAEL J. McGUIRE, Michael J. McGuire, Inc., Los Angeles, CA G. TRACY MEHAN, The Cadmus Group, Inc., Arlington, Virginia DAVID H. MOREAU, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill DENNIS D. MURPHY, University of Nevada, Reno, NV DONALD I. SIEGEL, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, University of California, Irvine Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director JEFFREY W. JACOBS, Scholar LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Program Officer STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Senior Program Officer LAURA J. HELSABECK, Associate Program Officer M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Financial and Administrative Associate ELLEN A. DE GUZMAN, Research Associate ANITA A. HALL, Senior Program Associate STEPHEN T. RUSSELL, Senior Program Assistant MICHAEL J. STOEVER, Senior Program Assistant
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey Preface In the coming decades of this 21st century the United States faces serious and complex water resources problems. Constraints on the availability of water—quantity and quality—will impact “what we do” and “where we do it” as a society. To face these problems the nation will need more, new, and improved water science, information, and tools to manage and adapt to these constraints. Since its inception in the late 1800s, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has become a major national contributor of scientific data, investigations, and information about the nation’s waters. At the turn of the last century, the USGS provided the first scientific insights and assessments needed to begin understanding and managing the vast resources of the United States. At the beginning of this new century, the nation will need a major national science agency to help address the water resource challenges that await. This report is one of a series of studies that the National Research Council’s (NRC) Water Science and Technology Board’s (WSTB) Committee on U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Research (CWRR) has organized. Through these studies, the CWRR has provided advice to the USGS Water Resources Discipline (WRD) on water-related issues and programs relevant to the USGS and the nation since 1985. Over nearly 25 years the CWRR and related committees have overseen reviews of nearly every WRD program and initiative, some on a rotating basis. Earlier studies have concerned the National Streamflow Information Program, the National Water Use Information Program, the National Water Quality Assessment Program, and the National Research Program, as well as areas of research such as river science, groundwater, hazardous materials in the aquatic environment, hydrologic hazards science, and watershed research.
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey This study, however, was different from most of the previous studies. Past studies focused on a particular program and addressed technical and scientific components of the programs. This study considered the entire range of water resources activities at the USGS. The statement of task for this study does not address focused technical questions rather it calls for an evaluation of the broader aspects of leadership and management to conduct the scientific and technical mission of the WRD. To address this task the WSTB and CWRR formed the Committee on Water Resources Activities at the U.S. Geological Survey, to carry out this study and prepare this report. The USGS asked this committee to address specific questions about WRD’s past and present performance, leadership and management, their interaction with other agencies and stakeholders, as well as areas for improvement (for complete statement of task see Box 1-1). The committee felt evaluating the past and present balance among the USGS’s water programs would prove an incomplete task without a complementary look toward the future to provide suggestions to help the USGS move toward a more dynamic vision to address society’s growing water resources issues. Thus, we approached the charge by assessing the past and present in the context of a vision for the future challenges ahead. The report is primarily directed to the leadership of the Water Resources Discipline (WRD)—one of four major scientific sectors of the USGS. However, many findings and recommendations also need to be considered by the leadership of the USGS and the Department of Interior (DOI), because their support is necessary for the WRD to respond to the water needs of the nation. The members of this committee brought a wide range of water resources expertise and considerable experience interacting with the USGS. This made for enlivened and enlightening discussions throughout the deliberative process and ultimately led us to the forward-looking recommendations. Disciplinary specialties ranged from hydrogeology and engineering, to the ecological sciences, and contaminant chemistry to meteorology, with professional experience encompassing basic research, water science and policy, and management of water utilities. The committee also had extensive experience with the USGS programs; some had served with the USGS in a past portion of their career, others had managed operations as formal cooperators with the USGS WRD programs, and some members had no direct experience with the agency. All members were users and consumers of the USGS data and reports. Geographically, the committee’s experience ranged from coast-to-coast and with national and international experience. Among the committee members were some who had direct service on nearly every major
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey NRC review of the USGS WRD’s water programs—and even broader studies of the USGS strategies—that has taken place over the past decade. This contributed important institutional understanding and perspective. The consistent characteristic of this committee was a clear dedication to water science and the understanding of the importance of water to the functioning of our society and economy. This wide-ranging expertise afforded the clear understanding of the rapidly growing pressures on the nation’s water resources and the stress this will exert on the social and economic security of the nation. The committee held five working meetings; at four of these meetings the committee heard presentations from, and engaged in discussions with USGS leadership, program scientists, and representatives from other federal, state, and local agency cooperators and users of USGS products. The committee did so to gather testimony and an assessment of the status of USGS programs, their accomplishments, successes, as well as perceptions on short-comings and where the opportunities existed to improve WRD programs and its contributions to the nation. With the USGS and DOI leadership, the committee reviewed management issues including organizational details and budget and staffing data to understand the status and health of the organization over time. Many on the committee have been involved in the management of other agencies, businesses and utilities, or academic institutions, and are versed in review of such “management” information. Throughout the course of the study, outside of the deliberative meetings, committee members also visited with other USGS staff and other colleagues in academia; industry; or other local, state, and federal agencies in applied areas of the water resources field, casting a wide net for input to the deliberative process. The committee members also collectively have reviewed many USGS WRD reports. The committee thanks many people external to the USGS who gave of their time to provide highly informative and useful presentations and dialogue regarding their collective experiences with the USGS Water Resources program including: Timothy Petty, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior for Water and Science; Sue Lowry, State of Wyoming; Jack Byers, State of Colorado; Van Lindquist, West Dakota Water Development District; Eric Senter, California Department of Water Resources; Curt Schmutte, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Richard Nelson, Bureau of Reclamation; Michael Soukop and William Jackson, National Park Service; Jerry Brabander, Fish and Wildlife Service; Thomas Graziano, National Weather Service; and Cynthia Dougherty, Jim Jones, and Susan Holdsworth U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey We also thank the many USGS staff who talked with us and, particularly, senior leadership staff who met with us to provide insights, including: Mark Myers, Director, U.S. Geological Survey, Dave Hamilton (BRD), Randy Updike (GD), William Alley, Stephen Blanchard, Timothy Miller, Steve Ingebritsen, William Sexton, William Horak, Michael Reddy, James Kircher, Mark Anderson, and Mike Shulters. Our special thanks go to Robert Hirsch, Matt Larsen, and Ward Staubitz, who not only gave generously of their time and insight but also facilitated the gathering of answers to our many inquiries and sometimes unreasonable requests for data, reports, and documents that we felt were necessary to our deliberations. The committee also thanks the NRC WSTB staff for their support and leadership. Without the competent staff of the WSTB these reports would not be possible. Throughout most of the time of this study, Will Logan was the study director. When Will moved on to new challenges in 2008, Laura Helsabeck stepped in as project director—a challenging role to assume in a study approaching conclusion. In particular, we thank Laura for her significant contributions to the report and her efforts to bring the report to completion—and her patience with the committee. Anita Hall provided excellent staff support throughout the study. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the NRC in making its published report as sound as possible and that will ensure the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Kenneth Bradbury, University of Wisconsin; Yu-Ping Chin, The Ohio State University; Joan Ehrenfeld, Rutgers University; Gerald E. Galloway, Jr., University of Maryland; George Hornberger, Vanderbilt University; Jeanine A. Jones, California Department of Water Resources; Soroosh Sorooshian, University of California, Irvine. Although the reviewers listed above 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 Henry J. Vaux, University of California, Berkeley. Appointed by the National Research Council, Dr. Vaux was 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. Responsi-
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey bility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. The committee hopes that this report will help to strengthen the Water Resources Discipline and the USGS. Our recommendations are not “answers,” but hopefully stimuli to promote the further discourse and planning needed to help USGS meet the problems facing the nation today and more importantly to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. George R. Hallberg, Chair Committee on Water Resources Activities at the U.S. Geological Survey
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 16 Report Roadmap, 21 2 THE USGS WRD: A PERFORMANCE REVIEW 22 Leadership, 22 Coordination and Cooperation, 27 Balance, 36 Cost-Effectiveness, 40 3 PREPARING FOR TOMORROW 48 Water Resource Trends—“Predictable Surprises” Await, 48 Problems of Water Availability Will Become Increasingly More Serious and Prominent, 50 Climate Change Will Make Water Resources Challenges More Difficult, 51 Water Quality Impairments Will Continue to be a Difficult Issue, 54 Water Prices Will Rise, 56 Resolving Water Conflicts and Policy Debates Will Demand More Water Science, 58 WRD Planning, Priorities, and Stakeholders, 60 WRD Budget and Staffing, 63 The USGS WRD Can Add Value to Water Resource Debates, 71 4 WATER FOR TOMORROW 75
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Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey Leadership, 76 How Can the USGS Respond to Emerging Water Challenges?, 79 Strategic Approaches, 92 Concluding Remarks, 99 REFERENCES 101 APPENDIX A Biographical Information 109
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