Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

Healing Waters

Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

Healing Waters

Article excerpt

Serious problems of water quality have increased even as global awareness of the finite supply of water has grown. Yet many of these problems are potentially reversible, especially when addressed on a watershed and drainage basin level. Suzie Greenhalgh and Paul Faeth's article "Trading on Water" (FORUM, Spring 2001) is valuable for its problem-solving approach to a water quality issue that can often lead to political and institutional paralysis: reversing the impacts of human alteration of the nitrogen and carbon cycles.

The growth of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico--the "Dead Zone" cited by Greenhalgh and Faeth--illustrates both the challenges and opportunities involved in addressing a problem that originates far upstream, in a basin containing 31 states. Two years of often contentious scientific and policy work by a federal-state task force have resulted in an action plan for reducing Gulf hypoxia. (The Action Plan can be viewed on the website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [less than]http://www.epa.gov/msbasin/factsheet.htm[greater than]).

Often lost in the rhetorical conflict over issues like total maximum daily loads (TMDLs)--which set baselines for pollutants in water bodies--is the fact that the set of potential solutions to water quality problems has grown. …

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