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Multiple perspectives lead us to one goal – sustainable water management. DEFINITION : Using water in ways that do not compromise needs of future generations or of other species. Components of sustainable management : - Preserve integrity of natural systems: rivers, ecosystems.
Multiple perspectives lead us to one goal – sustainable water management • DEFINITION: Using water in ways that do not compromise needs of future generations or of other species. • Components of sustainable management: - Preserve integrity of natural systems: rivers, ecosystems. - Balance economic development, the environment, social & equity. - Encompass interests of all affected stakeholders in decisions. - Anticipate conflict over water use before it occurs. Sustainable water management as policy: “Water planning and decision-making will be democratic, ensure representation of all affected parties, and foster direct participation of affected interests.” – Peter Gleick
Historical perspectives – U.S. Water Policy • Management of water a preoccupation since ancient times: (e.g., Sumeria (Iraq), Israel, China, Egypt, Roman Empire). • Ability to harness, manage, distribute water needed for economic development, political and military power: • Notable Quote: “It is plain . . . how much more our forefathers cared for the general good rather than private luxury, inasmuch as even the water which private parties used was made to serve the public interest.” – Sextus Julius Frontinus, Supervisor of Water Supply, City of Rome (A.D. 97). • U.S. experiences instructive: shows how priorities can change over time in response to changing social needs, scientific knowledge.
El Acueducto del Aguila – moved water from Nerja, Spain to nearby Maro (Southern Spain)
U.S. Policy – evolution • U.S. government pursued water resource policies from early 1800s– navigation and flood control. In late 1800s, irrigation, public supply, hydro-electricity added. • Two important agencies: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1804), Bureau of Reclamation (1902) – latter given responsibility for water projects in West. • Key periods: • Formative years (till 1880). • Federal-state cooperative era (1880-1930). • Multi-purpose planning era (1930-1960s). • Nationalizing water policy (1960s-1980s). • Current challenges? (since 1980s).
Formative years: 1800 - 1880 • Exploration of West – led by Army engineers: • Purpose – determine suitability for settlement, especially water (Lewis and Clark, 1804-5; Zebulon Pike, 1806-7 in upper Rio Grande & Arkansas Rivers; Stephen Long, Central Rocky Mountain-Yellowstone expedition, 1819-20). • 1824: Army Corps of Engineers designated “steward of nation's water resources:” • Identified mill sites, navigational improvement needs. • Engaged in channel-widening/flood hazard mitigation. • Strategy? Site-specific solutions to local problems.
Federal-state cooperation: 1880s – 1930s • Development of large water projects in east (for navigation, power, flood control) & west (irrigation, water supply, power). • John Wesley Powell (1879): • Proposed dividing West into irrigation districts conforming to watersheds, with basins as state boundaries – “river basin” concept. • Congress, farm interests disagreed – proposed federal projects for irrigation and power. • Mississippi River Commission (1879): • Coordinated federal-state planning efforts in a single basin. • Deepen/widen Mississippi to make it navigable; reduce flooding (lock & dam system). • Federal Power Commission (1920) – authorized private power projects on “navigable rivers” if licensed by federal government.
Melvin Price Lock & Dam (1994) – Mississippi River near Alton, Illinois
Major California themes during this era • Progressive conservationism (1890s – 1910s): Gifford Pinchot, others – aim for sustained yields of timber, water, minerals. • Sought public stewardship to thwart reckless exploitation, protect national security : • Linked to the era’s faith in reason/science. • Apply organization/regulation to natural resources. • Conflict – Muir vs. Pinchot on Hetch Hetchy dam; Mulholland & L.A. vs. Owens Valley – should preservation or development be priority?
Owens Valley – Mono Lake Alkali dust storm east over Owens Lake from the Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine, CA (1988)
Portion of Los Angeles Aqueduct (1913) Jawbone Siphon Jawbone Canyon, near Mojave, CA (1988)
Multi-purpose planning: 1930s - 1960s • Begun in Great Depression – promote water resource planning for regional economic development. • In West, major reclamation projects built (Hoover, Grand Coulee dams); in East, Tennessee Valley Authority or TVA (1933). • TVA granted broad power over 7 states for flood control, hydropower, navigation, economic development. • Local governments incorporated in economic development. • TVA replaced other federal agencies and private power companies in basin. • Later efforts to develop TVA-like entities (Missouri, Columbia basins) failed – most of what was achieved was dams, not regional cooperation.
Tennessee Valley Authority – dams & other power plants Red = dams/reservoirs Yellow = Coal-fired power plants Purple = nuclear plants
Nationalizing water planning: 1960s-80s • Water Resources Council (1961) – charged with encouraging inter-agency cooperation, integrating water quality and quantity concerns. • Composed of Agriculture, Army, Commerce, and Interior departments. • Conducted two assessments (1968, 1978) that depicted nation's water needs; analyzed water quality, quantity, land use trends; sought "comprehensive, coordinated management” of water resources. • Tried to exercise “veto” over new dams, other water projects. • Nation was not ready for a national water policy – other agencies lobbied for end to WRC in early 1980s.
1980s – present: environmental & other concerns • New policy approaches: • More public participation. • Greater attention to environmental justice (e.g., Native Americans). • Emphasizes “non-structural” remedies (e.g., floodplain management; river restoration; dam removal). • Examples: Pacific Northwest & Colorado Basin: • 1980s – efforts to restore salmon spawning runs on Columbia, Snake Rivers – remove impediments to salmon, restock rivers, reduce power production. • 1990s - change water flows through Glen Canyon Dam to restore sand bars, exotic fish species, cultural artifacts. • Long-term recovery remains uncertain – e.g., shad in Colorado, salmon in Pacific Northwest – are they recovering?
Environmental effects of flooding at Glen Canyon Dam – which is better? 1987 floods – normal riparian condition 1990 – vegetation growth at same site Colorado river mile 55 (s. of Glen Canyon Dam