November 13, 2001
The Honorable Senator Bob Graham, Chairman
The Honorable Senator Michael Crapo, Ranking Member
United States Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water
Dear Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Crapo:
I am pleased to have this opportunity to provide testimony at the oversight hearing on water supply held by the Environment and Public Works Committee, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water on Wednesday, November 14, 2001.
I serve as the non-federal Co-Chair of the Interim National Drought Council with Secretary Ann Veneman, USDA, serving as the federal Co-Chair. The Council was formed last year through a Memorandum of Agreement, in response to the recommendations of the National Drought Policy Commission (NDPC), on which I served as the national urban water representative. The NDPC held a number of hearings across the nation and submitted its final report and recommendations to Congress in the summer of 2000.
Presently I work in a senior management position with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, one of the largest regional water management agencies in the country. Previously I worked for 15 years in Florida, including a top staff position at the South Florida Water Management District. These remarks reflect a diversity of experience and perspectives including the California and Florida water resource experience, work with multi-state and national drought management entities, and participation in the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP).
In your invitation letter you asked that we address three things. These remarks are prepared with a short overview, followed by answers to the three questions, with further details provided in an attachment.
Lately there has been a great deal of attention dedicated to the issue of water supply security. Previously, information was presented to Congress regarding the issue of aging infrastructure. However, the basic water supply condition in the world, nation, regions, states, tribal areas, local jurisdictions and ecosystems is challenging today, and expected to become even more challenging in the future. The basic dilemma is that fresh water resources are finite, and demands on them are increasing, often resulting in competition, conflicts, and water wars with economic, environmental, agricultural, industrial and safety impacts felt by the water consuming public.
In addition to the basic resource scarcity, the process of water supply decision-making is often equally challenging. The planning, preparedness and solutions to water supply problems are often delayed until they reach near crisis conditions, which may constrain and reduce the available approaches and options. As a result, some of the most cost-effective water supply measures such as conservation, recycling and groundwater conjunctive use may be overlooked, with more controversial supply options supported by well meaning managers, under emergency or near emergency situations.
Finally, the role of the federal government has been helpful in a few specific instances. But overall some changes in the federal role could result in measurable, cost-effective benefits for the water-using public.
Question 1: Perspective on water supply problem today or in our future, a description of that problem, including regional differences, and discussion of the potential causes of this problem:
The simple answer is yes there is a water supply problem in the nation today, and indications are that these problems will become more difficult and severe in the near term. For many years in two diverse states - California and Florida - at opposite ends of the country, there has been a common phrase among water managers. That is, there is sufficient supply, but not in the right locations, at the right time or amounts to meet demands on a sustainable basis. At some point in the past ten years California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Idaho, Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia and most of the other western states have declared or come close to declaring drought conditions in their states. In many cases these declarations have covered consecutive years. With this increase in frequency of multiple year drought conditions, water managers today may be rethinking that old saying.
The World Water Commission for the past couple years has been reporting on the global water supply picture, including:
· Only 2.5% of the world's water is freshwater
· Of that, 2/3 is trapped in icecaps and glaciers
· Of the remaining 1/3, 20% is in remote areas
· Of the remaining amount, 80% comes at the wrong times or in the wrong locations to meet the need
· 70% of the world's water is used for agricultural purposes
· Increases over the next 2 decades are predicted:
q Human use by 40%
q Agricultural use by 17%
· As a result, aquatic ecosystems will be affected
The attachment includes several pages of specific water supply problems, organized by state, with problems noted in almost every state. The source of the problems, the nature of the impacts vary geographically and hydrologically, but overall the factors contributing to the current and growing water supply challenges include:
· natural water resource limits;
· changing climate conditions and uncertainties;
· ever-increasing water quality constraints and associated treatment impacts;
· growing demands and competition for resource supplies and uncertainties regarding population growth predictions;
· the need for regional integrated resource plans throughout the country, incorporating a diversity of supplies including both structural and non-structural water supply solutions;
· the need for coordinated federal water resource management policies, approaches and priorities;
· the need for coordinated, technical data collection, analysis, and integration including monitoring and prediction, water use estimates, advancements and applications for recycling and conservation;
· the need for official, coordinated federal conflict resolution practices;
· the need for a shift in federal funding priorities from response to readiness, emphasizing planning and preparedness activities.
Each of these factors is discussed below.
Natural Water Resource Limits
As previously noted, in the attachment, several pages list key water supply problems, constraints or challenges for almost every state. The Committee asked for regional differences to be shared in the testimony, and while there are differences such as groundwater versus surface supplies, the similarities are vivid and real. Virtually every state in the country is presently or on the verge of facing water resource supplies challenges or shortages. In some cases, such as in Southern California, the predicted reductions in supplies from the Colorado River, potential supply challenges associated with the State Water Project, and natural rainfall circumstances have led Metropolitan Water District to invest in a number of programs and water producing projects over the past 10 years. They include emergency surface storage (Diamond Valley Lake), development of ground water storage and conjunctive use programs within and outside district service areas, and accelerated and enhanced recycling and conservation investments, all on a cost competitive basis. Yet, that is not the routine across the country, even though the challenges in each state mimic in their own way the challenges being faced by Southern California.
Additionally, the term 'drought', once defined by meteorological conditions, over the past few years has been extended and expanded to generally reflect any water shortage, or water curtailment circumstance. Water managers are using terms such as 'regulatory drought 'and 'water-quality-driven drought' across the country today. The recent experiences in the Klamath Basin and earlier water supply curtailments of the State Water Project in California have been characterized by some as 'regulatory droughts'. The growing problem of increasing salinity in water supplies resulting from a variety of sources and practices is an example of how changes in water quality may effectively reduce the amount of water to meet demands, hence the term 'water-quality-driven drought'. The term drought management, then, has become one of comprehensive water resources management, and must consider environmental needs for water, as well as economic, agricultural, social, industrial and other human impacts associated with water supply shortages. After more than 5 years of reviewing the drought management needs across the country, and comparing those needs with federal, state, tribal and local assistance and programs, we have identified significant service and assistance gaps that need to be filled to help the country deal effectively with this growing resource challenge.
There is general agreement among scientists that CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere and the majority of the scientific community believes that the climate has changed and will continue to change. There continues to be uncertainty regarding the degree of climate variability, the regional effects and potential impacts.
However, despite the continued dialog regarding the degree and extent of climate change, there are some important projections that contribute to water supply challenges. They include:
· Shifts in precipitation type from snow pack to rain fall;
· Shifts in precipitation locations from north to south;
· Shifts in precipitation frequency and duration, evidenced by El Nino, La Nina and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) effects;
· Shifts in precipitation amounts, and predictions of longer, multi-year droughts.
The relevance of these shifts is that water supply and distribution systems designed for previous hydrologic regimes, may not be suitable for the emerging regime. In the west, the snow pack is in effect a 'reservoir', which if reduced substantially, results in more rainfall, greater runoff and water supplies that may be out of sync with reservoirs, groundwater management basins and distribution networks currently in place. Both tree ring and remote sensing data point to extended periods of drought, throughout the country, encompassing 15-20 years of consistently dry conditions. That same data reveals similar periods of flood conditions as well, with few years of 'normal' conditions. Again, this information suggests an overall challenge on the horizon and increased probability of water supply shortages nationwide, and most certainly in the west.
Water Quality Concerns and Treatment Impacts
Salt water intrusion and contamination has emerged as a major water quality problem throughout the country, which often reduces the direct uses of water supplies and impacts the ability to recycle water. Various land use practices contribute to this problem, including intensive growth in coastal areas, agriculture, and other naturally occurring conditions exacerbated by growing water demands. Additionally as detection technologies have increased, the number of contaminants regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act have also increased, with treatment cost rising exponentially. The attachment includes a couple of charts that illustrate this dramatic increase, with a significant jump occurring between 1990 and 1998. In1990 there were approximately 30 constituents with more than 80 in 1998. Arguments could be made on all sides of the discussion about this proliferation of water quality regulations, but nevertheless they do contribute to the challenge of meeting water supply demands.
Growing Demands / Competition for Resources
There are many classic water competition examples across the nation, with only a very few of the current situations listed below:
· Floridan Aquifer - Alabama / Georgia / Florida
· California Bay-Delta and State Water Project
· Colorado River 7 basin states
· Texas Edwards Aquifer
· Minnesota groundwater - irrigation and domestic competition
· Delaware River Basin area on drought watch
· Ogallala groundwater basin management
This is only a snap shot to illustrate the diversity of areas experiencing competition for resources and growing demands.
Existing and Challenging Regional Integrated Resource Plans
The National Drought Policy Commission and other national organizations have identified several successful models located throughout the country where integrated resource planning is occurring on a regional basis. Yet even these successful regional integrated planning bodies could benefit from a more collaborative relationship with the federal government. These successful models include:
· Florida's 5 Water Management Districts
· Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
· Santa Clara Valley Water District
· Delaware River Basin Commission
· Ohio River Basin Commission
· Susquehanna River Basin Commission
Using the Metropolitan Water District as an example, the model can be based on a few key regional integrating planning strategies including:
· Invest in conservation and local resources - over past 10 years 800,000 AF conserved and recycled, projected to reach 1.6 MAF by 2020
· Reduce reliance on Bay-Delta during dry years to improve ecosystem management
· Keep the Colorado River Aqueduct full through innovative conservation, storage and water transfer programs
· Develop and implement a preferred resource mix, balancing local and imported water (IRP)
· Develop and implement a resource portfolio strategy for drought management, incorporating storage during surplus periods for use during dry periods (Water Surplus and Drought Management Plan)
In addition, there are some newly framed regional compacts and other emerging regional areas where there is a need for greater integrated resource planning, including:
· US and Mexico issues with the Rio Grande and Colorado River
· ACT-ACF, Georgia, Florida, Alabama issues (Apalachicola Bay, Atlanta, etc.)
· Texas SB 1 implementation
These are not the only regional integrated planning examples, but they illustrate the types of existing regional approaches. However, there are many more situations where there has been no regional planning or coordination, resulting in existing and imminent water supply shortages and challenges. They also represent locations where there are missed opportunities for economies of scale and the benefits of share visioning and development of mutually beneficial solutions.
Need for Coordinated Federal Policies, Approaches and Priorities
The National Drought Policy Commission report, May 2000, identified more than 80 federal programs related to federal drought assistance. Despite a lot of investigation, analysis and evaluation we were unable to identify coordination among those programs. They are based in numerous federal departments such as USDA, Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, NOAA, SBA, and to some limited degree FEMA, which might explain some of the lack of coordination. However, we also discovered that multiple programs within the same department lacked coordination, as well.
The recent experience in the Klamath Basin is an example where an upfront coordinated approach, and collaboration with the affected water users, in hindsight, would have been beneficial. Additionally, a similar situation, thought not quite as extreme as the Klamath, occurred a year or so ago in California regarding the management of the State Water Contract supplies. Again, these are not the only examples, but serve as an indication of the need. These examples also underscore the fact that the federal Endangered Species Act and its state counterparts have largely become the main driver in the need for coordination among a diverse set of regulatory agencies that control today’s water supply decisions.
Yet there are some coordination and collaboration efforts occurring today, which warrant mentioning. One of the members of the National Drought Policy Commission and Interim National Drought Council is the US Army Corps of Engineers. They have extensive information on this topic, and have advised the commission and council members on challenges related to water supply development projects, and also on the success stories where a coordinated and collaborative approach was used. The Corps has been undergoing a transformation in the way they conduct business, and are moving more into the multiple purpose and multiple benefits arena as a result. Additionally, the Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation, in response to a recommendation made by the National Drought Policy Commission are developing an MOU to allow the Corps to perform drought management studies for the Bureau and to combine their expertise and effectiveness nationwide.
The Western Drought Coordination Council, a collaboration between western states, several federal agencies, urban interests and other stakeholders, initiated by the Western Governors' Association, represents a successful regional coordination and collaboration effort between federal and nonfederal participants. The National Drought Policy Commission and Interim National Drought Council also serve as models of collaboration and cooperation between federal and nonfederal entities.
As more and more coordination examples occur, there is increasing evidence of the cost savings, resource benefits and environmental and economic productivity rewards of coordination among federal agencies and with states, tribes and local entities requiring assistance in water supply planning.
Need for Coordination, Collaboration of Scientific/Technical Data Collection, Analysis and Integration:
A specific successful data coordination project is the weekly production of the Drought Monitor map and report. This is a collaborative data sharing effort between USDA, NOAA, the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and several regional and local weather monitoring and prediction entities in both the public and private sectors. The group tracks the occurrence of drought across the country, with weekly updates reporting on current conditions and any changes since the previous report.
This coordination effort points out the multiple benefits of shared visions, and coordinated scientific pursuit. There are many areas in which adequately funded coordinated data collection, analysis, and evaluation is needed from the federal government. A few areas of particular need are:
· Groundwater supplies and recharge and extraction rates of aquifers
· Water use consumption, demand forecasting, and accurate estimates of water supply and demand balance
· Conservation measures in urban, agricultural, commercial, institutional and industrial sectors
· Stream gages and other watershed monitoring
· Weather prediction and long term patterns and trends
Need for Coordinated Federal Conflict Resolution Practices:
There has been an increasing emphasis within federal departments and agencies to use alternative dispute resolution and conflict resolution practices, particularly in regulatory disputes. There is also a slowly growing practice of using collaborative processes with federal and non-federal participants sharing data, agreeing on the issues and developing solutions. The CALFED and Everglades examples have been previously noted, and many others have occurred, for example in Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay, Lake Tahoe, Santa Monica Bay and the Chesapeake Bay. However, there is a growing need for an officially sanctioned federal practice of alternative dispute resolution and consensus based decision making for water supply problems. There is increasing information in the legal and resource management literature illustrating successes at local, regional, and multi-state levels where participatory conflict resolution approaches were used to solve problems, planned for litigation expenditures were redirected to project and program implementation, and with lasting inter-group relationships created. Yet, there is less experience within the federal government among various departments and agencies, and between federal and non-federal partners and participants.
Need for Shift in Federal Priorities from Response to Readiness:
One of the primary recommendations from the National Drought Policy Commission is the need for the federal government to shift priorities - particularly in funding decisions - from response or bailouts to readiness or planning and preparedness measures. There was also a caution to make sure that the shift occurs in such a way as to provide a reasonable transition for states, tribes and local entities to implement this change in priorities in their own areas. For example a safety net for true emergencies would need to be in place for a period of perhaps 10 years, for many agricultural programs to shift from an emergency to readiness paradigm.
The National Drought Policy Commission report also documented the substantial savings of providing up-front solutions to water supply shortages and problems, studies such as the NSF funded "Government Response to Drought in the United States: Lessons from the Mid1970's" have shown that the federal government spent significant amounts on responding to drought impacts, including:
· $3.3 billion responding to the 1953-1956 drought
· at least $6.5 billion during 1976-1977 drought
· about $6 billion during the 1988-1989 drought
But there are clearly other costs as reported in "Drought and Natural Resources Management in the United States: Impacts and Implications of the 1987-1989 Drought" (Riebsame, Changnon and Karl) which documented a reduction in crop production of nearly $20 billion and an increase in food prices of more than $12 billion because of the 1988 drought. The report also noted the low flows in the Mississippi River caused barge shipping prices to double and triple leading to an estimated $1 billion in increased transportation costs. At one of the National Drought Policy Commission hearings the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Susan Combs, reported that in 1996 and 1998 droughts in her state caused a loss of $4 billion in direct income with a total impact to the state's economy close to $11 billion.
Question 2: Extent to which federal programs are effective or ineffective in ensuring that state and local governments are meeting water supply needs.
There are some effective federal programs, such as California's CALFED program and Florida's Everglades restoration program. Both address the problem of resource scarcity and increasing competing demands for those resources. They both have used collaborative processes to help minimize conflicts, with a goal of environmental restoration and protection. But even with these successful models there have been occurrences when tough decisions had to be made regarding such options such as storage and conservation for water supplies.
At the other end of the spectrum is the general issue of federal agencies, with specific mandates and perspectives, and little incentive to cooperate, collaborate and develop a shared, mutually beneficial approach to water supply. This is partly due to the more than 80 governmental programs in a dozen federal entities, involved in water resource and drought related assistance programs. Yet there is no federal forum for integrating the concerns, perspectives and mandates of various federal departments and agencies, which also includes effective mechanisms for federal and non-federal participants to work collaboratively. Several parts of the discussion above provide further specifics on this question. Taken collectively several of them relate to the need to re-evaluate the ability of any single agency to veto coordinated plans to meet water supply needs. They are noted under the headings:
· Need for coordinated federal policies, approaches and priorities
· Need for coordinated, collaborative scientific/technical data collection, analysis and integration
· Need for coordinated federal conflict resolution practice
· Need for shift in federal priorities from response to readiness
Question 3: What actions should Congress take to facilitate an efficient and effective federal role in water supply:
Based on the above information, observation and experience, there are some basic ways in which the federal government could help the country resolve some of the water supply challenges. They include the following:
· Support a National Drought Preparedness Act, to create an ongoing federal and non-federal coordination and collaboration entity, with both administrative and program implementation funding;
· Implement the recommendations of the National Drought Policy Commission report, including:
q Shifting federal priorities from response to planning and preparedness, reflected in funding decisions and incentives for regional federal and non-federal water supply coordination entities;
q Provide incentives for scientists and managers to collaborate to enhance observation networks, monitoring and prediction and information delivery of pertinent water supply information;
q Maintain a safety net of emergency relief, that emphasizes sound stewardship of natural resources and self-help;
q Develop and enact a federal practice of multi-jurisdictional conflict resolution and alternative dispute resolution;
· Conduct a national assessment of the potential to use a regional approach to developing water supply plans and solutions, including resource assessment, economies of scale, watershed basis, and stakeholder input processes.
· Develop and fund a federal practice of multi-jurisdictional conflict resolution and collaboration with non-federal partners and participants.
q Re-evaluate the ability of any single agency to veto coordinated plans to meet water supply needs.
In addition to the broad topics addressed above, the water industry has gone on record regarding some specific measures, which are applicable to this discussion. They include specific actions by the federal government that would help facilitate some water supply solutions, without undermining the shared goal of protecting environmental and ecological resources.
· Under the general category of better coordinated and integrated water statues and programs:
q Develop effective, scientifically sound and adequately funded programs to control polluted runoff.
q Amend the Clean Water Act to make protection of drinking water sources one of its main purposes and to specifically address drinking water contamination by non-point and other sources.
q Develop water quality criteria for microbial pathogens and all other pollutants subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act, to limit the introduction of microbial pollutants into the drinking water supplies.
· Amend Superfund to more effectively protect and remediate drinking water sources.
· Change the Clean Air Act to prevent contamination of drinking water supplies by MTBE and other oxygenates.
· In reauthorizing the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the American Water Works Association (AWWA) recommends:
q Develop a public policy review process that balances species protection with the provision of public services essential to public health, safety, and welfare.
q Allow for upfront agreement on reasonable and necessary preventive or emergency repairs, maintenance and safety modifications on existing water projects.
q Recognize the rights and responsibilities of the owners of existing water rights.
q Ensure that ESA decisions are based on peer-reviewed science conducted by acknowledged, independent experts in an open, transparent, and interactive process.
In summary, the questions you raised are relevant and needed to be raised. The solutions are not easy, but still need to be implemented. While there may be diverse water supply needs across the country, I believe you will find a host of individuals, groups and entities that will welcome the opportunity to be part of the solution. I appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony on this important topic and welcome the opportunity to answer questions, provide additional information or other means to further these endeavors.
Ane D. Deister
Co-Chair Interim National Drought Council