Coordinating US Water Policy: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

Report
Adam Reimer
Postdoctoral Research Associate
W.K. Kellogg Biological Station
Michigan State University
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Webinar Outline
 Brief history of U.S. water policy
 Major federal water laws and agencies
 Ongoing and emerging challenges
 Recent policy trends and innovations
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Overview of Water Policy
 Two traditional threads
 Water use/
consumption
 Water quality
 Policy fragmentation
 State vs. federal
 Increasing:
 coordination
 landscape-scale
management
 public involvement
 ecosystem restoration
 adaptive management
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History
 Colonial-1850: local control and




abundance
1850-1900: expansion, transport
1900-1950: water supply
infrastructure
1950-1980: Environmental era
1980-2000: Devolution,
experimentation, and collaboration
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Clean Water Act (CWA)
 Passed in 1972
 Two major mechanisms:
 Designate uses and WQ standards for
waterways
 Regulate point sources of pollution

National Pollution Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES)—national permitting system
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Other Federal Laws
 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
 Public drinking water standards
 Drinking Water State Revolving
Fund
 Water Resources Development
Act (WRDA)
 New bill in conference now
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Water Agencies
 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(USACE)
 Traditionally focused on navigation,
flood control
 Manages 25% of U.S. hydroelectric
power
 Bureau of Reclamation
 Provides water storage for
irrigation, drinking water,
recreation
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Water Agencies
 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
 Primary federal agency in charge of water
quality
 Administers CWA provisions, including:



NPDES
List of impaired waters
Technical, financial resources for pollution
reduction
 CWSRF & DWSRF
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Water Supply
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Water Usage by Sector
Municipal supply:
residential &
commercial uses
4%
3% 1% 1%
Power Generation
Agriculture
11%
49%
Non-domestic Public
Supply
Industrial
31%
Livestock and
Aquaculture
Mining
2005 USGS data, last year federal estimates are available
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Water Supply: Surface Water Rights
 Three traditional state
doctrines
 Riparian rights (eastern
states)

Water rights part of
property
 Prior appropriation
(western states)

“First in time, first in
right”
 Hybrid systems (Great
Plains & Pacific coast)
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Water Supply: Groundwater
 Groundwater policies
disconnected from surface
water
 Some states combining
ground- and surface water
policies
 Typically first come, first
served policies
 Mostly privately developed
 Groundwater depletion
serious concern
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Groundwater depletion between 1900 and 2008 (source: USGS)
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Water Supply: Emerging Issues
 Prior appropriation: no efficiency
incentive
 Use it or lose it
 States adjusting policies
 Increased pressure on existing
water supplies
 Population growth
 Increased per capita use
 Aging infrastructure
 State, local (and private) systems,
with federal support
Clean Water Action (cleanwater.org)
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Water Supply: Efficiency and
Conservation
 Mostly state/local effort thus far (EPA
technical support)
 Water loss management
 Water reuse and recycling programs
 Market mechanisms
 Cooperative water management
 Conjunctive land use and water
planning
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Water Supply: Climate Change
Girvetz, Roy, and Maurer (Tetra Tech Consulting). 2010. Water sustainability in the contiguous United States. Evaluating
Sustainability of Projected Water Demands Under Future Climate Change Conditions, Natural Resources Defense Council.
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Water Quality
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Water Quality
 Environmental
movement of 1960s
changed perception of
water
 Initial concern with
point source pollution
 Heavy metals, sewage,
petrochemicals, PCBs
 CWA, NPDES
 40 years after CWA, still
significant impairment
Impaired Waters of the US:
100,000 miles of rivers and streams
2.5 million acres or lakes
800 mi2 of bays and estuaries
55% of streams in poor condition for
aquatic life
(source: EPA)
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Water Quality
 Nonpoint source (NPS)
pollution
 Variety of sources,
difficult to identify
 Nutrients (N&P),
sediment, road
chemicals
 Now major source of
water impairment
Source: NOAA


25% of streams with too
much N
40% of streams with too
much P
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http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/dead
zone/general.html
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Emerging Pollutants of Concern
 Household chemicals with uncertain impacts
 Pharmaceuticals
 Household cleaners
 Personal care products
 Widespread
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Emerging Pollutants of Concern
Kolpin et al. 2002. Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams,
19909-2000: a national reconnaissance. Environ. Sci. Tech.
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Water Quality
 1990s transition to holistic WQ
management
 1992 CWA amendments: Total
Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
 Whole water body management
 Determines uses, calculates acceptable
pollutant levels
 Apportions levels to various actors
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Water Quality
 TMDL process addresses PS
and NPS
 Mandatory limits for PS, only
voluntary for NPS
 Watershed-based, cut across
political boundaries
 Public involvement
Courtesy NRCS
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Coordination and Collaboration
 Agencies increasingly
working together
 Federal-state-localprivate collaboration
 Integrate water supply
mgmt, WQ mgmt
 California Federal-BayDelta Program
(CALFED)
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Watershed Management
•Management by basin,
rather than jurisdiction
•Goes hand-in-hand with
coordination and
collaboration
•Targets NPS
•TMDL process
•Citizen involvement key
•Civic watershed groups
related to implementation
of TMDL plans1
1Hoornbeek,
J., Hansen, E., Ringquist, E., and Carlson, R. 2013. Implementing
water pollution policy in the United States: Total Maximum Daily Loads and
collaborative watershed management. Society and Natural Resources 26: 420-436.
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Public Involvement
 Public awareness of
water issues
 Multiple use
management
 EPA 319 Program
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Ecosystem Restoration
 Hundreds of years of water system modification and
degradation
 Loss of ecosystem services:
 Flood control & storage
 Water filtering
 Wildlife & fisheries habitat
 Storm protection
Example: Comprehensive Everglades
Restoration Plan
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Adaptive Management
 Experimentation in
policy design
 Importance of
monitoring,
flexible
administration
 Response to climate
change
Courtesy: Government of British Columbia
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Questions
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