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Responding to National Water Resources Challenges

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As important as water is to life, livelihood, and leisure, water is a resource that is often taken for granted until too much of it appears or too little is available to satisfy basic societal needs. Managing water resources as a collaborative endeavor is becoming increasingly crucial as society faces demographic, economic, institutional and climate changes manifesting across the U.S. and around the globe. These changes portend a different understanding of the risks associated with the occurrence, location, intensity and impacts of extreme events including floods and droughts. Such changes will inevitably aggravate the competition for water in already stressed regions or emanating from population shifts to arid and semi-arid regions, and along our lakes, rivers and coastlines. Change will also affect water quality by stimulating sea level variations and, from different patterns in the movement of sediments, lead to intrusion of chemicals, other contaminants, and invasive species into water bodies and related land resources. Such change will accelerate the loss of wetlands and sensitive habitats, threaten species and reduce ecosystem services. The resulting challenges facing the Federal government, the states, and interstate and local governments in our management our collective stewardship of public water resources come into focus as a shared responsibility for which collaboration is an imperative, not an elective choice. Water resource planning to address these contemporary needs involves envisioning, formulating and assessing solutions against a backdrop of complex, but sometimes limited, scientific information which is not always completely understood. Planning processes are often seen as fragmented and expensive, while at the same time challenged to accommodate diverse stakeholder perspectives without being tinged with political realities.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Water Pollution and Control

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