AWRA: Water problems challenge the nation -- Government must act now

Releasing results of Second National Water Policy Dialogue held in mid-February in Tucson, Ariz., American Water Resources Association urges President Bush, Congress and governors to establish 'National Water Commission'. Conference report finalized and open letter sent to government officials calling for action...

MIDDLEBURG, VA, March 28, 2005 -- In letters to President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), key members of Congress and governors of all 50 states, the American Water Resources Association (AWRA), on behalf of a recently conducted Second National Water Policy Dialogue, calls on the Administration, Congress and Governors to address the growing challenges in the management and protection of the nation's water resources and urges the establishment of a National Water Commission to chart a path for the future.

The Dialogue, held Feb. 14-15 in Tucson, Ariz., was conducted by AWRA under the sponsorship of nine federal agencies and 40 state, local, business, and non-governmental organizations, and attended by over 250 of the nation's water resources experts.

Challenges facing the nation include droughts that have resulted in annual losses of over $5 billion; conflicts among states over water use and allocation; deteriorating water quality conditions; flood losses that continue to grow; an aging water infrastructure that rated sub-standard and at risk by the American Society of Civil Engineers (see: "Water security also undercut in latest ASCE Infrastructure Report Card"); and continued wetland losses and other environmental degradation.

The letters call on National Leaders to:
-- Address the Nation's water issues in an integrated manner, focusing not on single projects but on programs and watershed and basin level issues;
-- Reconcile the myriad laws, executive orders and Congressional guidance that have created a disjointed, ad-hoc national water policy and to clearly define our 21st century goals;
-- More effectively coordinate the actions of federal, state, tribal, and local governments in dealing with water, seeking collaboration instead of competition to provide better and more fiscally efficient use of scarce resources and to overcome decision gridlock on key water programs;
-- Focus the nation's superb scientific capabilities and cutting edge information technologies to support more effective water related decision-making; and
-- Educate public officials and the public about the extent and complexity of water challenges and the specific need to provide funding to support for water resources infrastructure.

The Dialogue program and speakers can be found at: www.awra.org/meetings/Tucson2005/.

For a summary of the event, click here.

The authors of the letter are Dialogue general chair, Gerald E. Galloway and Dialogue steering committee chair, Richard A. Engberg, will be available for telephone interviews throughout the day. To read the letter, click here.

AWRA (www.awra.org) is the premier professional organization dedicated to the advancement of multidiscipline water resources management, education and research. For over 40 years, AWRA has provided a forum for water resources conversation and networking. AWRA has members in every state and in over 50 nations.

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