Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New National Research Effort Needed To Secure Clean, Adequate Water Supply In Coming Decades

Date:
June 18, 2004
Source:
The National Academies
Summary:
The United States needs to make a new commitment to research on water resources in order to confront the increasingly severe water problems faced by all parts of the country, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies' National Research Council.

WASHINGTON -- The United States needs to make a new commitment to research on water resources in order to confront the increasingly severe water problems faced by all parts of the country, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies' National Research Council. In particular, a new mechanism is needed to coordinate water research currently fragmented among nearly 20 federal agencies, said the committee that wrote the report.

Related Articles


"Water crises are not confined to western states," said committee chair Henry J. Vaux, professor emeritus and associate vice president emeritus, department of agricultural and resource economics, University of California, Berkeley. He cited as an example the recent conflict between Maryland and Virginia over Potomac River water rights that had to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. To be sure, semiarid western states are still in need of new water supplies for fast-growing populations, a problem that has been complicated by recent drought. And regulation of water levels and flows in the Klamath and Missouri rivers have sparked considerable debate as well. "Decision-makers at all levels of government are going to have to make difficult choices in the coming decades about how to allot limited water supplies, and they need sound science to back them up," Vaux added.

Given the competition for water among farmers, environmental advocates, recreational users, and other interests -- as well as emerging challenges such as climate change and the threat of waterborne diseases -- the committee concluded that an additional $70 million in federal funding should go annually to water research, with the aim of improving the decision-making of institutions that control water resources and better understanding the water-use challenges that lie ahead. The committee noted that overall federal funding for water research has been stagnant in real terms for the past 30 years, and that the portion dedicated to research on water use and related social science topics has declined considerably. For example, while other fields such as the health sciences have seen large funding increases over the last three decades, per capita spending on water-resources research has dropped from $3.33 to $2.44, despite the growing number of water conflicts around the country.

Federal agencies and the states -- to which the federal government has deferred much water-resources research in recent decades -- have tended to focus on short-term research likely to yield more immediate results. But it is long-term, basic research that will provide a solid foundation for applied science a decade from now, the committee said. It urged the federal government to commit one-third to one-half of its water research portfolio to long-term studies.

The government also should improve monitoring of water conditions and levels over the long term, and archive this data, the committee added. In recent years, there have been substantial declines in the measurement of stream flow, groundwater levels, water quality, and water use, the committee found; in some areas measurements have been completely eliminated.

A new entity is needed to coordinate water research at the national level because no structure is in place now that adequately prioritizes research for funding purposes, evaluates progress, or shifts priorities as new challenges arise. Either an existing interagency body, a neutral organization authorized by Congress, or a public-private group led by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) could serve as the coordinating mechanism, the committee said. The coordinating group should regularly advise Congress and OMB, and also provide guidance on the establishment of a new competitive grants program.

The best statement on current research needs, the committee said, can be found in the 2001 Research Council report Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the 21st Century. However, the research areas recommended by that report should be re-evaluated as circumstances and knowledge change. The new report identifies a set of principles that can be used to help set priorities in the future. For example, officials should ask whether proposed research is of national significance, and whether it complements the overall research portfolio on water resources. Research projects should involve scientists from multiple disciplines, study systemwide effects, consider uncertainties, and address how humans and ecosystems can adapt to changes in water resources.

The report was sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows. Copies of Confronting the Nation's Water Problems: The Role of Research will be available later this summer from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The National Academies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The National Academies. "New National Research Effort Needed To Secure Clean, Adequate Water Supply In Coming Decades." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040618065408.htm>.
The National Academies. (2004, June 18). New National Research Effort Needed To Secure Clean, Adequate Water Supply In Coming Decades. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040618065408.htm
The National Academies. "New National Research Effort Needed To Secure Clean, Adequate Water Supply In Coming Decades." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040618065408.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins