Review of the President's June 6, 1978, Water Policy Message

CED-79-2: Published: Nov 6, 1978. Publicly Released: Nov 6, 1978.

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The President's June 6, 1978, water policy message contained the following objectives: improved planning and efficient management of federal water programs to permit the construction of water projects that are cost effective, safe, and environmentally sound; a new national emphasis on water conservation; enhanced federal and state cooperation; and increased attention to environmental quality. He also issued directives outlining action to be taken by federal agencies in implementing his policy initiatives and establishing a timetable for completion.

The water policy is a progressive attempt to reform water resources development practices, but some of the objectives may not be met by the initiatives. For example: proposed principles and standards need to be more specific; the proposal that the Water Resources Council (WRC) perform an independent water project review may not achieve the desired results because the WRC is not independent of agency influence; project selection criteria require identification and clarification; and federal and state cost-sharing inconsistencies and inequities should be addressed. Recommendations in the message relating to the following were supported: modifications to financial assistance and housing assistance programs, encouragement and assistance for water conservation, and changes in irrigation repayment and contract procedures. Areas not addressed by the policy include: the need to establish a clearinghouse for water conservation practices involving municipal and industrial water supplies, the need to solve constraints which impede implementation of better water management, and the need to better define the federal role in promoting better water management. Also, greater priority should be given to water quality issues.

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