Water Conservation:

An Update of Federal Activity

RCED-83-113: Published: Apr 22, 1983. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1983.

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GAO reviewed recent Federal Government water conservation activities and provided an update of actions taken in response to the 1978 Presidential initiatives which gave water conservation national priority.

Based on published reports, GAO noted that: (1) water supplies are becoming scarce because of increased use of ground and surface water; (2) the problems exist nationwide; and (3) serious problems will exist in many localities by the year 2000. By June 1980, 19 federal organizations made over 150 program changes to adopt cost-effective and environmentally sound water conservation measures. Specifically, the Secretary of the Interior changed the Bureau of Reclamation's irrigation repayment and water service contract procedures to shift a greater portion of the federal costs to users. Although some actions taken in response to the initiatives have been rescinded, most continue. The current administration's view is that the cost of water should reflect consumer needs and that states and localities should make the decisions regarding construction projects and assume a greater share of the cost. Market forces would then determine whether conservation measures are the best solution to water supply problems.

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