A Twenty-First Century US Water Policy

By Juliet Christian-Smith; Peter H. Gleick et al. | Go to book overview

12
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Summary

The preceding chapters have described the persistent and emerging water challenges that the United States faces and have offered suggestions for overcoming them. We are approaching limits on our renewable water supply and overpumping some groundwater aquifers. Key water laws are out of date and are not effectively or equitably enforced. An increasing number of aquatic ecosystems are in danger of collapse. Many cities, businesses, and farms are not taking advantage of existing, cost-effective water conservation technologies and practices and are confronting water-supply constraints. Much of our infrastructure has not been adequately maintained and will become increasingly strained by climate change and continued population growth. Rising energy demands and shifts toward domestic fuels add additional pressures on the nation’s food and water resources. And, as mentioned in the introduction, our current institutions for water management are, in many cases, inadequate, inefficient, and uncoordinated.

These persistent and emerging challenges are being felt worldwide and have served as the basis for many governments to reassess their approach to water management. Beginning with South Africa’s water reform efforts in the mid-1990s, many other countries have followed suit in the last decade by passing innovative water laws that share a common commitment to more holistic water management, including Australia, the European Union, and Russia. Although these initiatives have differing cultural dimensions and political imperatives, they share a commitment to many soft path water solutions.

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A Twenty-First Century US Water Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • List of Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction- the Soft Path for Water xv
  • 1 - The Water of the United States 3
  • 2 - Legal and Institutional Framework of Water Management 23
  • 3 - Water and Environmental Justice 52
  • 4 - Tribes and Water 90
  • 5 - Water Quality 109
  • 6 - Protecting Freshwater Ecosystems 142
  • 7 - Municipal Water Use 167
  • 8 - Water and Agriculture 195
  • 9 - Water and Energy 221
  • 10 - Water and Climate 244
  • 11 - United States International Water Policy 263
  • 12 - Conclusions and Recommendations 288
  • Appendix - Key Pieces of Federal Legislation 305
  • Notes 313
  • About the Authors 317
  • Index 319
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