Water Supply Issues Lead to Search for New Models

By Marcus, Janet | Nation's Cities Weekly, November 30, 1998 | Go to article overview
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Water Supply Issues Lead to Search for New Models


Marcus, Janet, Nation's Cities Weekly


At a national symposium on Water Supply Issues for a Sustainable 21st Century" co-sponsored by the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Richmond, Virginia Vice-Mayor Rudy McCollum (EENR Steering Committee member,) and I, representing NLC, heard presentations from speakers from different areas of the country on how they are attempting to resolve the competing interests among water users.

The sponsors of the meeting dearly would like to establish an alliance with the National Governors' Association and NLC in order to change how federal agencies operate in resolving conflicts from competing interests over water. Instead of the present command and control style and the emphasis on nailing people, ICWC wants to promote regional (watershed management) decision-making mechanisms.

AWWA wants to find a way to meet increasing environmental and recreational uses for water. Both groups are reaching for new models of decision-making and getting away from situations where everybody has a veto and gridlock reigns.

Curt Smitch, special assistant to Governor Gary Locke of Washington State described the statewide planning process resulting from a case triggered by the Endangered Species Act in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

As 75 percent of the public favor restoring diminishing salmon numbers, the Governor is asking local areas to determine how, in a growing state in which water is already over allocated, water can be returned to streams. By the Summer of 1999 a plan must be ready that will address water quantity and quality.

John Ueble, assistant executive director of the St. John's River Water Management District in Florida, described how boards made up of lay people decide competing uses and issue consumptive use permits good for two to twenty -- and even fifty -- years, if infrastructure is involved.

Jeffrey Featherstone, deputy executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission, related the operation of this complex compact which supplies water to large and small cities in four states: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The federal government has pulled the plug on its financial support which used to be 20 percent of their budget.

Rita Pearson, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, described the negotiations to settle the senior water rights claim of the Gila River Indians (a 15 year court case which has already cost $52 million in legal fees), which places in potential jeopardy water supplies in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

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Water Supply Issues Lead to Search for New Models
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