For Immediate Release: July 30, 2009
ELI Handbook Explains New and Successful Strategies in U.S. Western Water Policy
(Washington, DC) — The Environmental Law Institute has developed a handbook that identifies and explains the various ways in which 12 Western States have addressed practical and legal challenges to promoting strategic, sustainable water management. Western Water in the 21st Century is designed to inform everyone from the casual observer to experienced engineers and legislators, providing a platform that will help us all think strategically about preparing for the many challenges in water use that lie ahead.
Burgeoning populations require more water—not only for drinking, personal hygiene, and landscaping, but also for groceries, energy, processed materials, services, and recreation. And as uncertainty in supply due to climate change continues to mount, the prognosis for the future is bleak. Nowhere in the U.S. is this more evident than in the West. Like the problem, the solution will be complex. How do we do more with less, and perhaps more importantly, how do we create the legal and financial incentives to get there? “The many issues yet to be resolved or even foreseen in water management will not be answered by a single, one-size-fits-all solution; effective answers will require incremental, adaptive changes mindful of the unique legal, social, and hydrologic circumstances of each state,” says Adam Schempp, Director of ELI’s Western Water Program. Western Water in the 21st Century covers a range of practiced approaches, from reducing the disincentives to conservation inherent in the “use it or lose it” policy of prior appropriation to making water markets more responsive to changes in supply and demand.
Western Water in the 21st Century draws upon the expertise of state engineers; staff of state agencies, municipal water providers, and nonprofit organizations; and representatives of farming interests. It describes the origin of the laws, their structure, their successes and shortcomings, and the potential they hold for cushioning the impact of severe drought or a more permanent change in supply and demand. Looking at each state as an independent laboratory, the Handbook recounts where we have been and where we are and offers tools necessary to successfully address our present and future water challenges.
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from the Environmental Law Institute, please contact Brett Kitchen at 202-939-3833