The National Study of Water Management during Drought: Report on the First Year of Study [report]

William J. Werick, Robert Brumbaugh, Gene Willeke
1991 unpublished
Executive Sum-e ary BACKGROUND This is a report on the findings and recommendations from the first year of the National Study of Water Management During Drought. The study, conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the help of the water management community, is a review of the way water is managed during drought in the United States. This report is a formal part of an ongoing dialogue within the water management and user community. The systems for water management in this country are
more » ... ature and sophisticated, but sometimes overly contentious and sometimes too inflexible. Although the nation is comparatively well served by its water management system, there are some areas where improvements could provide a more secure supply, better use, and greater efficiency. Like any riature system which already performs reasonably well, the next increment of performance will be n' jre difficult to achieve, but not impossible. This report recommends a practical, step by step strategy for better serving the water needs of the U.S. The impacts of drought differ regionally. The West is a mostly arid region, used to dealing with the specter of water scarcity; there the major issues are the reallocation of water to address changing demands, and Federal management and regulation in an appropriation law setting. In the North Central states, water quality is a major concern, with some small communities now unable to drink the water in the ground beneath them. A second major concern for those along the Great Lakes is excessively fluctuating lake levels. In the Southeast, many users, such as hydropower, municipal water supply, and recreation, compete for wat,!r, whether the source is reservoir storage and releases or ground water extraction. Intense environmental concerns affect this competition for water, such in the Everglades region of South Florida. In the Northeast, the infrastructure for municipal water supply is aging and vulnerable; quantity and quality issues are intertwined. In many parts of the country, as in the Southeast, the problems are best characterized in terms of the competition among types of use for scarce water. Water management during drought is an enormous field of endeavor. It is both a special case of water management in general, and an integral part of drought impact mitigation, which is dominated by issues such as crop subsidies, relief payments, and forest fire management. Water management decisions are made using a variety of abstract models for engineering, law, ecoromics, biology, and social science. The decisions extruded from any of these models tend to have the characteristics of the model as well as the reality being modeled. Typicall), seceral of these abstract models must be harnessed together to pursue the practice of water management during drought. That practice is guided by a hierarchy of principles starting with the U.S. Constitution, and it has many dimensions, including the different levels of government, the purposes for which water is managed, and the roles that water managers play (regulator, planner, etc.). The m,.shing of this multi-dimensional practice with the substantial, hierarchical body of rules forms a d-fa., Aater management policy, but one vhich is more labyrinth than guiding path. The complexity and rigidity of the entire water management system, which is not managed (or very often studied) as a s)tm is the principal national challenge to better watfr management during drought. There is Zi widespread concern about our ability to solve problems because of the time, contentiousness, and cost involved in negotiating this labyrinth. There is no clearly expressed national drought policy or plan, nor is there a consensus in the water management community about what that drought management plan or policy should be. A few influential groups have suggested alternatives which have neither been implemented nor rejected. The primary objective of this study is to develop a strategy to improve water management during drought, but there will be no nationwide changes until there is sufficient support for specific policies or plans. The strategy recommended here for better water management during drought is to engage the water management community in a number of case studies over the next three years which will not only work on different specific regional problems, but will serve as the basis for the formulation and testing of different approaches to the general question: How do we want water to be managed during drought? At the end of this study we will have several case studies and topical studies from which a manual on how to prepare for drought will be written. In addition, we may be able to make recommendations for policy changes based on experiences. Specific conclusions and recommendations from the first year of study begin on the next page. CONCLUSIONS
doi:10.21236/ada238997 fatcat:ee7bqllir5fxfmzn6law7qbheu