Reports and Publications

Year 2017

GAO and Drinking Water

Government Accountability Office, Report to Congressional Requestors, Additional Data and Statistical Analysis May Enhance EPA’s Oversight of the Lead and Copper Rule, GAO-17-424.

Drinking water contaminated with lead in Flint, Michigan, renewed awareness of the danger lead poses to the nation’s drinking water supply. Available Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, reported by states, show that of the approximately 68,000 drinking water systems subject to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), at least 10 percent had at least one open violation of the rule; however these and other data are not complete. When the LCR was promulgated in 1991, all water systems were required to collect information about the infrastructure delivering water to customers, including lead pipes.

GAO was asked to review the issue of elevated lead in drinking water. Among other objectives, this report examines:

(1) what available EPA data show about LCR compliance among water systems and (2) factors that may contribute to LCR noncompliance. GAO analyzed EPA data on violations and enforcement of the LCR from July 1, 2011, through December 31, 2016, interviewed EPA officials in headquarters and the 10 regional offices; conducted a statistical analysis of the likelihood of reported LCR violations; and held discussion groups with a nonprobability sample of regulators representing 41 states.

GAO is making three recommendations, including for EPA to require states to report data on lead pipes and develop a statistical analysis on the likelihood of LCR violations to supplement its current oversight. EPA agreed with GAO’s recommendations.


Ecological Water Stress in the Great Lakes


Anthropocentric water resources management affects aquatic habitats by changing stream flow regime. Understanding the impacts of water withdrawal from different sources and consumption by various economic sectors at different spatial and temporal scales is key to characterizing ecologically harmful stream flow disturbances. To this end, we developed a generic, integrative framework to characterize catchment scale water stress at annual and monthly time scales. The framework accounts for spatially cumulative consumptive and non-consumptive use impacts and associated changes in flow due to depletion and return flow along the stream network.

Application of the framework to the U.S. Great Lakes Region indicates that a significant number of catchments experience negative water stress due to stream flow depletion caused by surface water and shallow groundwater withdrawals. In many other catchments, however, return flow from deep groundwater withdrawals compensates for the stream flow depletion to the extent that positive water stress is likely. Results illustrate the importance of using appropriate spatial and temporal scales to evaluate water stress, demonstrating that coarse temporal (i.e., annual vs. monthly) and spatial scales reduce the ability to detect water stress due to water withdrawals in vulnerable catchments in low-flow months.


GAO Report on Corps of Engineers Water Pricing

US Government Accountability Office, Army Corps of Engineers, Better Data Needed on Water Storage Pricing, Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-17-500, Aug. 2017.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stores water for municipal and industrial water users—such as local water utilities—in its reservoirs, dams, and other civil works projects. In return, water users agree to cover the costs of the project.

Corps officials and water users told us that these project costs vary; but when we tried to examine to what extent, we found that the Corps' water storage agreement data were insufficient. Corps officials said some factors can contribute to the variation, such as projects' original construction costs and the effects of inflation.

We recommended ways to improve the Corps' data and water storage pricing process.


Microbiota and Oil and Gas Wastewaters

Examining Shifts in Stream Microbial Communities Exposed to Oil and Gas Wastewaters

Shifts in the overall microbial community structure were present in stream sediments that contained chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas wastewaters. This work is part of a long-term study designed to understand persistence of chemicals from oil and gas wastewaters in sediments and water and how those factors might be related to exposures and adverse health effects, if any, on organisms.

Microorganisms are vital parts of stream ecosystems. Microbial community structure shifted at sites downstream of UOG wastewaters leaving questions about the affect these shifts have on nutrient cycling and other key processes.


Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey’s Impact — And How It Compares To Other Storms

By Rachael Dottle, Ritchie King and Ella Koeze

Hurricane Harvey, which dumped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana, looks to be one of the most damaging natural disasters in U.S. history. Flooding continues to affect large areas of Houston, Beaumont and other areas of Texas. Tens of thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes, and rig shut downs and evacuations along the Gulf have curbed oil and gas production. The White House, meanwhile, is expected to ask Congress for $14.5 billion in relief funding. While we don’t know Harvey’s ultimate toll on life and property — and won’t for some time — here are the best estimates of the hurricane’s impacts so far, and how they compare to the destruction wrought by other major storms.

Estimates of Harvey’s cost vary, with some predicting that the storm will be the most expensive in U.S. history at over $190 billion, surpassing Hurricane Katrina. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates Katrina to have cost around $160 billion.) If that ends up being the case, it would greatly increase the total cost of billion-dollar-plus events since 1980. Others predict that the cost will be closer to that of Superstorm Sandy, at around $70-90 billion.

One reason for Harvey’s estimated record cost is the sheer amount of rain and flooding brought on by the storm. Harvey set the record for tropical cyclone rainfall measured in any one place in the U.S. over at least the past 50 years.

Because of Harvey’s flood impacts, many have compared it to Hurricane Katrina. Katrina’s devastation was a result of the failure of government flood protection systems, violent storm surges, a chaotic evacuation plan and an ill-prepared city government. Harvey, on the other hand, has caused massive flooding at a slower pace, without Katrina’s deadly surge. In this way it resembles other costly and damaging tropical cyclones of the past 30 years.

The immediate effects of Harvey were also felt by the oil and gas industries. Around 10% of manned oil platforms in the Gulf were evacuated, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. While the fallout is still being determined, gas prices have risen and oil and gas rig production has continued to be hampered.

There are many more consequences that residents and officials are only now sorting through. Harvey’s impact may be felt as residents seek claims from insurance companies, encounter environmental contaminants from debris and infrastructural damage and incur the economic effects of displacement. The cleanup has only just begun.


Groundwater Contamination

Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances From Firefighting and Domestic Wastewater Remain in Groundwater for Decades

Contamination of groundwater resources by organic and inorganic chemicals is an issue of national importance because groundwater sources provide drinking water supplies for millions of people in the United States. Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are commonly present in the environment because of their widespread use in consumer and industrial applications, such as protective coatings, and as a major component in aqueous film-forming foams. PFASs are widespread groundwater contaminants because they are highly mobile and resistant to microbial and chemical degradation once released into the environment. Understanding how PFASs get into groundwater and how they move in the subsurface is important for understanding human exposure through drinking water consumption.

The relative contribution of two independent PFAS sources was characterized by using state-of-the-science analytical measurements and visualization techniques to examine the PFAS distributions in the complex, overlapping groundwater contamination plumes. Although the fire training area was decommissioned about 30 years ago (1985) and remediated in 1997, and the wastewater facility was decommissioned about 20 years ago (1995), both sites continue to be sources of PFASs to the groundwater.


Black Sea

Freund, E.R., et al, Water Resources of the Black Sea Catchment Under Future Climate and Land Use Change Projections, Water 2017, 9, 598; doi:10.3390/w9080598

As water resources become further stressed due to increasing levels of societal demand, understanding the effect of climate and land use change on various components of the water cycle is of strategic importance. In this study we used a previously developed hydrologic model of the Black Sea Catchment (BSC) to assess the impact of potential climate and land use changes on the fresh water availability. The BSC model was built, calibrated, and validated against observed daily river discharge for the period of 1973–2006 using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) as the modeling tool. We employed the A2 and B2 scenarios of 2017–2050 generated by the Danish Regional Climate Model (HIRHAM), and four potential future land use scenarios based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s special report on emissions scenarios (SRES) storylines, to analyze the impact of climate change and land use change on the water resources of the BSC. The detailed modeling and the ensemble of the scenarios showed that a substantial part of the catchment will likely experience a decrease in freshwater resources by 30 to 50%.


Marine Recreation

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Review of the Marine Recreational Information Program. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:

This study has a special relationship to sustainability, in that the majority of economic benefits that accrue from expenditures that increase water quality are due to the resulting increased economic activity in recreation. Many millions of dollars are involved.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is responsible for collecting information on marine recreational angling. It does so principally through the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), a survey program that consists of an in-person survey at fishing access sites and a mail survey, in addition to other complementary or alternative surveys. Data collected from anglers through the MRIP supply fisheries managers with essential information for assessing fish stocks. In 2006, the National Research Council (NRC; now referred to as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, or “the National Academies”) provided an evaluation of the MRIP’s predecessor, the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS). That review, Review of Recreational Fisheries Survey Methods, presented conclusions and recommendations in six categories: sampling issues, statistical estimation issues, human dimensions, program management and support, communication and outreach, and general recommendations.

After spending nearly a decade addressing the recommendations, NMFS requested another evaluation of its modified survey program (MRIP). This report, the result of that evaluation, serves as a 10-year progress report. The committee met on four occasions, in Washington, DC; Charleston, South Carolina; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Irvine, California. At each meeting, the committee heard from state and federal employees as well as regional stakeholders. The committee also received written input from stakeholders during the study process. The resulting report recognizes the impressive progress that NMFS has made, including major improvements in the statistical soundness of its survey designs. It also highlights some remaining challenges, and provides recommendations for addressing them. This report principally focuses on the Fishing Effort Review of the Marine Recreational Information Program Survey (FES) and the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS) that form the backbone of the MRIP, but recognizes the role that other survey programs play in the MRIP and discusses them as they relate to coordination, certification, continuity, and other important aspects of the MRIP.



California Recycling and Groundwater Depletion

Badiuzzaman, Pierre, et al, Can Ocean Desalination and Water Recycling Capacities Substitute for Groundwater Depletion in California?, Univ. of St. Andrews, Paper 2017-09.

While the sustainability of resource depletion is a longstanding environmental concern, wider attention has recently been given to growing water scarcity and groundwater depletion. This study seeks to test the substitutability assumption embedded in weak sustainability indicators using a case study of Californian water supply.

The volume of groundwater depletion is used as a proxy for unsustainable water consumption, and defined by synthesizing existing research estimates into low, medium and high depletion baselines. These are compared against projected supply increases from ocean desalination and water recycling by 2035, to determine whether new, drought-proof water sources can substitute for currently unsustainable groundwater consumption. Results show that maximum projected supply of new water, 2.47 million acre-feet per year (MAF/yr), is sufficient to meet low depletion estimates of 2.02MAF/yr, but fails to come near the high baseline of 3.58MAF/yr.

This does not necessarily indicate physical limitations of substitutability, but more so socio-economic limitations influenced by high comparative costs. By including capacities in demand-substitutability via urban water conservation, maximum predicted capacities reach 5.57MAF/yr, indicating wide room for substitution. Based on these results, investment in social and institutional capital is an important factor to enhance demand-side substitutability of water and other natural resources, which has been somewhat neglected by the literature on the substitutability of natural resources.



Water Reuse

Tricas, M. and Liner, B. (2017) ‘A framework for improving economic analysis of water reuse opportunities’, Int. J. Environmental Policy and Decision Making, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp.207–220.

The economic value of water is a critical part of economic growth, but often taken for granted. Decision-makers in both the private and the public sectors will need economic information that can help them maximize the benefits derived from sustainable water management. The framework must expand beyond the direct costs and benefits of the project, but include the indirect and induced effects such as job creation and expanded tax base for the region. Adapting the economic development evaluation framework from the transportation sector can help the water sector better quantify and enumerate the economic development impacts from water reuse projects and programs. Water sector investments were comparable to transportation investments on a job creation and return on investment scale.


Understanding Chemical and Microbial Contaminants in Public Drinking Water

Public drinking water in the United States is of high quality. Disinfection alone has greatly reduced acute health risks of drinking public water supplies. Protection of the Nation's drinking water resources is a priority for and the responsibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) under the Safe Drinking Water Act in conjunction with State and Tribal agencies and water utilities. Water purveyors consistently monitor more than 100 chemical and microbial contaminants as part of compliance requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The public has access to compliance monitoring results and water purveyors summarize this information annually in Consumer Confidence Reports issued to all customers. Beyond compliance monitoring, there currently are other sources of data on regulated and unregulated contaminants in untreated and treated drinking water as part of the USEPA's Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule and from the independent efforts of public water purveyors themselves, academia, and other research and assessment programs.


Kentucky River Basin

Chattopadhyay, Somsubhra, "IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON EXTREME HYDROLOGICAL EVENTS IN THE KENTUCKY RIVER BASIN" (2017). Theses and Dissertations--Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. 50.

Anthropogenic activities including urbanization, rapid industrialization, deforestation and burning of fossil fuels are broadly agreed on as primary causes for ongoing climate change. Scientists agree that climate change over the next century will continue to impact water resources with serious implications including storm surge flooding and a sea level rise projected for North America. To date, the majority of climate change studies conducted across the globe have been for large-sized watersheds; more attention is required to assess the impact of climate change on smaller watersheds, which can help to better frame sustainable water management strategies.

In the first of three studies described in this dissertation, trends in annual precipitation and air-temperature across the Commonwealth of Kentucky were evaluated using the non-parametric Mann-Kendall test considering meteorological time series data from 84 weather stations.

In the second study, trends and variability of seven extreme precipitation indices (total precipitation on wet days, PRCPTOT; maximum length of dry and wet periods, CDD and CWD, respectively; number of days with precipitation depth ≥20 mm, R20mm; maximum five-day precipitation depth, RX5day; simple daily precipitation intensity, SDII; and standardized precipitation index, SPI were analyzed for the Kentucky River Basin for both baseline period of 1986-2015 and the late-century time frame of 2070-2099. For the baseline period, the majority of the indices demonstrated increasing trends.

In the third and final study, the potential impact of climate change on hydrologic processes and droughts over the Kentucky River basin was studied using the watershed model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT).

In general, maximum drought length is expected to increase, while drought intensity might decrease under future climatic conditions. Hydrological droughts (reflective of water availability), however, are predicted to be less intense but more persistent than meteorological droughts (which are more reflective of only meteorological variables). Results of this study could be helpful for preparing any climate change adaptation plan to ensure sustainable water resources in the Kentucky River Basin.


Water Use Model

Halla R. Sahely and Christopher A. Kennedy, Water Use Model for Quantifying Environmental and Economic Sustainability Indicators, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Nov. 2007.

A systems approach is used to model the urban water cycle. A model for analyzing the flows of water, energy, and chemicals and associated greenhouse gas emissions through the urban water infrastructure system is developed. A model is constructed to represent the City of Toronto urban water system from 2001 up to the year 2010. Scenarios are developed to assess the system-wide impacts of water distribution pipe renewal, sewer relining, demand management strategies, and energy recovery from anaerobically digested wastewater biosolids. Initiatives targeted at the early stages of the urban water cycle have greater positive downstream impacts on selected environmental indicators. Specifically, strategies aimed at reducing water demand produce more significant system-wide benefits. Demand management strategies aimed at reducing demand by 15% result in savings on the order of 12–18% for all environmental indicators. Demand management is also one of the most cost effective options.


The American Nile

By Jonathan Waterman

This article was done for National Geographic, and describes the Colorado River and human impacts. Possible remedial actions are also covered. There are numerous illustrations, data, and maps concerning the river and relevant issues.

GAO Report on NOAA Hydrography

GAO Report to Congressional Requestors, Hydrographic Surveying, NOAA Needs Better Cost Data and a Strategy for Expanding Private Sector Involvement in Data Collection, US Government Accountability Office, GAO-17-510, June 2017.

NOAA is responsible for collecting hydrographic data—that is, data on the depth and bottom configuration of water bodies—to help create nautical charts. NOAA collects data using its fleet and also procures data from the private sector. The Hydrographic Services Improvement Act of 1998 requires NOAA to acquire such data from the private sector “to the greatest extent practicable and cost-effective.”

GAO was asked to review NOAA efforts to collect hydrographic data. This report examines (1) how NOAA determines its hydrographic survey priorities, (2) NOAA’s efforts to compare the costs of collecting its own survey data to the costs of procuring such data from the private sector, and (3) the extent to which NOAA has developed a strategy for private sector involvement in hydrographic data collection.

GAO recommends that NOAA (1) ensure that its efforts to improve its cost comparison reports include actions to fully track asset and maintenance costs and (2) develop a strategy for expanding private sector involvement in the hydrographic survey program. NOAA agreed with GAO’s recommendations.


USGS National Brackish Groundwater Assessment

A new USGS assessment suggests that brackish groundwater could help stretch limited freshwater supplies. The amount of fresh or potable groundwater in storage has declined for many areas in the United States and has led to concerns about the future availability of water for drinking-water, agricultural, industrial, and environmental needs. Use of brackish groundwater could supplement or, in some places, replace the use of freshwater sources and enhance our Nation's water security.


Restoring and Sustaining Great Lakes Ecosystems

Shared with Canada and spanning more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) these vast inland freshwater seas provide water for consumption, transportation, power, recreation and a host of other uses. More than 30 million people live in The Great Lakes basin, and the impact of their daily activities, from the water consumed to the waste returned, directly affect the Great Lakes environment.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)1 was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes by providing additional resources to make progress on the most critical long-term goals for this important ecosystem. The GLRI has been a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination through the Interagency Task Force and the Regional Working Group, which are led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Great Lakes clean up and restoration activities frequently focus on “Areas of Concern.” These areas are defined under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as geographic areas where significant impairment of beneficial uses has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level. At the time of the agreement, there were 43 areas of concern including contaminated or deformed fishes, eutrophication, toxic sediments, and habitat destruction. Areas of concern occur in all of the Great Lakes.

Future conservation efforts should include work to lay foundations for future projects to protect and restore species diversity, reintroduce populations of native species to restored habitats and evaluate their survival, protect or restore species that are culturally significant to tribes in the Great Lakes region, manage invasive species that inhibit the sustainability of native species, pioneer species propagation and relocation techniques, and implement other activities necessary for the eventual recovery of federal and state threatened and endangered species.

Though clear improvements have been realized due to efforts of the GLRI, restoration of the Great Lakes is a work in progress. In order for successful restoration to continue, efforts to ensure that future conservation action is taken will be necessary.


Everglades Progress


Water Science and Technology Board, Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades, Sixth Biennial Review, National Academy of Sciences, 2016.

For a free download of this report, go to the web site and sign in as a guest. The size of the file is about 22 M.


South Florida is blessed with a unique, wonderfully diverse, and geographically extensive, wetland ecosystem reaching from south of Orlando to the Florida Keys. After nearly 150 years of drainage, channelization and flood control actions, this extraordinary natural resource has been dramatically altered and continues to decline. Where water once traveled slowly south toward the Everglades National Park through ridge and slough wetlands, marl prairies and sawgrass plains, it is now often diverted to the ocean or to other uses—less than half ever reaches its historic destination. The quality of the water remaining in the system is compromised by the phosphorus, nitrogen, mercury and other contaminants introduced by urban development, agriculture, and industry. The combination of reduced water flow and degraded water quality impacts has adversely changed land formation and vegetation patterns. Experts recognized over 20 years ago that significant action was needed to preserve and maintain this national wetland resource.

This sixth iteration of Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress, includes a mix of science and engineering specialists brought together for their combined expertise in environmental, biological, hydrologic, and geographic sciences; systems engineering; project and program administration; law; economics; and public policy. These experts were selected for their eminence in their fields, as well as their experience with complex, natural systems similar to the Everglades. The committee deliberations were always constructive, collegial, and professional—the positive spirit and good humor contributed to an especially enjoyable collaboration process. This 2016 report is a truly consensus committee product documenting the most critical factors in the successful completion of the program.


River Science at the USGS

Water Science and Technology Board, River Science at the U.S. Geological Survey, ISBN: 0-309-66681-3, 206 pages, 6 x 9, (2007), National Research Council.

To download this report, go to the link shown, and sign in as a guest. The PDF is about 14 M in size.

Although this is an older report, the prospect of change may make it relevant to future activities at the USGS. For that reason it may be of interest to a wide variety of water resource scientists.


This report is one of a series of studies that the Water Science and Technology Board’s (WSTB) Committee on U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Research has organized. Earlier studies have concerned the National Streamflow Information Program, the National Water-Use Information Program, the National Water-Quality Assessment Program, and the National Research Program, as well as areas of research such as hydrologic hazards science and watershed research.

River Science is more like the latter two studies, since there is no formal river science program at the USGS. Rather, there is a wide variety of work along rivers ranging from monitoring streamflow and water-quality parameters to integrated, watershed-based research and national synthesis. Hence, in this report where we refer to a potential future set of activities we use the less formal term “initiative” rather than “program.”

As part of various strategic changes at the USGS in 2001, which included instituting matrix management to better enable integrated science, eight bureauwide “Future Science Directions” were identified. These topical areas were coastal environments; earthquake hazards; ecosystem health, sustainability, and land surface change; energy; environmental information science; groundwater resources; invasive species; and rivers.


Watersheds and Stormwater

Weinstein, Neil, et al, A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts, National Academy of Sciences, NCHRP Research Report 840, 2017.

This is a long technical report. The quick way to get the free download is to go to the link below, sign in as a guest, and download either the whole report or individual chapters. The entire report is about 26 MB.

A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts provides a practical watershed-based decision-making framework and spreadsheet based Watershed-Based Stormwater Mitigation Toolbox that will enable state departments of transportation (DOTs) to identify and implement offsite cost-effective and environmentally beneficial water quality solutions for stormwater impacts when onsite treatment and/or mitigation is not possible within the right-of-way. The report and toolbox—which identifies other useful resources—should be of immediate use to stormwater managers and roadway drainage engineers who have to mitigate water quality impacts from roadway stormwater runoff in order to comply with state and federal water quality requirements.

State Department of Transportation (DOTs) are sometimes unable to meet stormwater management requirements onsite or in close proximity to the impacted area; therefore, additional approaches to accomplishing mitigation requirements are needed. By focusing on watershed protection, stormwater pollutant reduction, and hydrologic impairment, state DOTs and natural resource agencies that are interested in exploring approaches that include off-site mitigation and nontraditional techniques and strategies may find that equivalent or greater environmental benefits can be achieved in a cost-effective manner. State DOTs’ stormwater management programs require new tools in order to cost-effectively achieve compliance with water quality permits that are derived from watershed-based Total Maximum Daily Load limitations and other requirements included in stormwater permits that are issued to state DOTs.


Water Resources Climate Change Report

This is a report of the Water Resources Adaptation to Climate Change Workgroup, of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI). See for more information about the organizations involved.

On January 10 and 11, 2017, the Climate Change Workgroup meet in Herndon, Virginia, to consider key policy challenges related to climate change and water resources and to develop recommendations for the new Administration concerning priority actions that Federal agencies should take to improve water resources management in a changing climate. The agenda for the meeting is provided in the appendix to this report along with a list of Workgroup members and meeting participants. Five “policy challenges” were considered by the Workgroup:


• Promoting State Water Resources Planning for Climate Resilience

• Defining Incentives and Support for Corporate Water Resilience

• Strengthening State and Local Flood Reduction Planning, Practices and Measures

• Promoting Climate Resilience of New Federal Water Infrastructure Investments

• Improving Planning and Financing of Natural Infrastructure for Climate Resilience


Each challenge was addressed by a panel of experts and discussed by the full Workgroup. The Workgroup also considered the recommendations provided in a recent report by Federal agencies describing actions planned for the near future to support the resilience of water resources (  Based on these discussions, panel moderators drafted short summaries of insights and recommendations for key steps the new Administration should consider to address these challenges. This report provides the summaries of discussions and recommendations in each policy challenge area.


A more detailed summary of the meeting is available at:  

This report was considered and adopted by the Workgroup at a February 9 meeting. The Workgroup also voted to forward the report to the full ACWI. The report, however, is a description of the discussions occurring at the meeting; it has not been endorsed by organizations or agencies represented on the Workgroup.


Harnessing Big Data

The Renewable Natural Resources Foundation is pleased to announce the release of this special edition of its journal featuring the report of the 2016 Congress on Harnessing Big Data for the Environment.

The volume of data generated today – and our ability to process and analyze it – are unprecedented. Ubiquitous sensors, expansive data storage systems, and increasingly advanced computational capabilities have changed the way we generate, store, and analyze data. This new big data paradigm results in data sets that are too large and too complex to be processed by traditional applications. When supported by emerging analytical capabilities, big data represents a source for ongoing and refined discovery and analysis of social, market, and environmental trends and opportunities.



Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held two meetings during December 2016. The first was on Dec. 6, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

This meeting was at The University of the District of Columbia, Water Resources Research Institute on Sustaining Water Resources in the Mid Atlantic: Issues, Information, and Innovation.


The second meeting was held on Dec. 14-15, 2016 in Florida.

This meeting was held in conjunction with the Florida Earth Foundation at Florida Gulf Coast University and Babcock Ranch, Florida. It concerned State of the Art Water Technologies and Methods and Water Resource Opportunities from the Federal Perspective.


San Joaquin Valley, California

Ellen Hanak, Jay Lund, Brad Arnold, Alvar Escriva-Bou, Brian Gray, Sarge Green, Thomas Harter, Richard Howitt, Duncan MacEwan, Josué Medellín-Azuara, Peter Moyle, and Nathaniel Seavy, Water Stress and a Changing San Joaquin Valley, Public Policy Institute of California, March 2017

The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply—is facing growing water stress and a number of related environmental and public health problems. Large parts of the valley have become dependent on unsustainable pumping of groundwater. Tackling these linked issues with cooperative, coordinated approaches is key to success.

This research was supported with funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the TomKat Foundation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.


Groundwater Temperature

Susanne A Benz, Peter Bayer and Philipp Blum, Global patterns of shallow groundwater temperatures, Environ. Res. Lett. 12 (2017) 034005.

Only meters below our feet, shallow aquifers serve as sustainable energy source and provide freshwater storage and ecological habitats. All of these aspects are crucially impacted by the thermal regime of the subsurface. Due to the limited accessibility of aquifers however, temperature measurements are scarce. Most commonly, shallow groundwater temperatures are approximated by adding an offset to annual mean surface air temperatures. Yet, the value of this offset is not well defined, often arbitrarily set, and rarely validated. Here, we propose the usage of satellite-derived land surface temperatures instead of surface air temperatures. 2 548 measurement points in 29 countries are compiled, revealing characteristic trends in the offset between shallow groundwater temperatures and land surface temperatures. Here it is shown that evapotranspiration and snow cover impact on this offset globally, through latent heat flow and insulation. Considering these two processes only, global shallow groundwater temperatures are estimated in a resolution of approximately 1 km _ 1 km. When comparing these estimated groundwater temperatures with measured ones a coefficient of determination of 0.95 and a root mean square error of 1.4 K is found.


The Salton Sea

Barnum, D.A., Bradley, T., Cohen, M., Wilcox, B., and Yanega, G., 2017, State of the Salton Sea—A science and monitoring meeting of scientists for the Salton Sea: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1005, 20 p.,

The Salton Sea (Sea) is an ecosystem facing large systemic changes in the near future. Managers and stakeholders are seeking solutions to the decline of the Sea and have turned to the scientific community for answers. In response, scientists gathered in Irvine, California, to review existing science and propose scientific studies and monitoring needs required for understanding how to retain the Sea as a functional ecosystem. This document summarizes the proceedings of this gathering of approximately 50 scientists at a September 8–10, 2014, workshop on the State of the Salton Sea.


National Groundwater Association Sustainability Initiative

The National Ground Water Association has been working with the Association of American State Geologists, the Ground Water Protection Council, and the Interstate Council on Ground Water Policy to gather information to build a national picture of groundwater monitoring. We have concluded the compilation of responses to the Joint State Ground Water Quality and Level Monitoring surveys relating to state and regional ambient groundwater. Click here for the results to both surveys.

Ground water is a critical component of the nation’s water resources. Globally, ground water resources dwarf surface water supplies. Approximately 25% of the earth’s total fresh water supply is stored as ground water, while less than 1% is stored in surface water resources such as rivers, lakes, and soil moisture. The rest of the fresh water supply is locked away in polar ice and glaciers. Because ground water is hidden, the resource is often forgotten or misunderstood. In fact, until 1984 courts in Ohio held ground water movement “secret” and “occult”.


Year 2016

Water Use History

The USGS National Water-Use Science project has documented 60 years of water-use from 1950 to 2010 in an interactive map. Choose a year and pick a category to see how much water your state uses. USGS has been collecting data from States since 1950. Spanning 60 years of water-use nationally, this collective data set not only shows variations across the country and throughout time, it lays the framework for an emerging story about our evolving relationship with water.

People and industries are changing how they use water as populations grow, technology advances, and regulations evolve. To assess these changes, the USGS developed an interactive data visualization that shows freshwater use by state every five years from 1950 to 2010. This tool allows users to discover the most comprehensive national-scale data on water use for the United States. The USGS compiles and estimates this water-use information in cooperation with State, Federal, and local agencies. The estimates are reported by categories including public supply, irrigation, and thermoelectric power.

The visualization highlights how differently one half of the country uses water from the other. Water withdrawals for thermoelectric power generation are most prominent in the eastern half of the country while water-use for irrigation is predominant in the west.

Trends within each category are also notable. Water-use associated with public supply increased steadily from 1950 to 2005, then dipped a bit in 2010 despite an increase in population. Industrial water-use for manufacturing dropped from peaks of approximately 39,000 million gallons per day in 1970 and 1980 to approximately 17,000 million gallons per day in 2010, the lowest value seen in the USGS data for this category. The decrease in industrial water-use reflects higher efficiencies in industrial processes and regulations that emphasize water reuse and recycling, as well as economic conditions.


EPA National Lakes Assessment

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the results of a national assessment showing that nutrient pollution is widespread in the nation’s lakes, with 4 in 10 lakes suffering from too much nitrogen and phosphorus.

Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms, lower oxygen levels, degraded habitat for fish and other life, and lower water quality for recreation. The National Lakes Assessment also found an algal toxin – microcystin – in 39 percent of lakes but below levels of concern. Low concentrations of the herbicide atrazine were found in 30 percent of lakes.  

“America’s lakes and reservoirs provide many environmental and public health benefits; we use lakes for drinking water, energy, food and recreation, and our fish, birds, and wildlife depend on lakes for habitat,” said Joel Beauvais, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at EPA. “The National Lakes Assessment provides us with valuable information to help protect and restore our lakes across the country.”

The assessment is part of a series of National Aquatic Resource Surveys designed to provide information about the condition of water resources in the U.S. The surveys are conducted in partnership with states and tribes to provide national-scale assessments of the nation’s waters. 

An earlier National Lakes Assessment was conducted in 2007, but this latest study is expanded to include smaller lakes and increase the number of lakes assessed.  Lake managers can use the new interactive dashboard to evaluate site-specific information and to explore population-level results. Conducted on a five-year basis, future lake surveys will help water resource managers assess broad-scale differences in the data and perform trends analysis. 

Nutrient pollution is one of America’s most widespread and costly environmental and public health challenges. EPA is working on many fronts to reduce the severity, extent, and impacts of nutrient pollution in our nation’s lakes and other waters.  These efforts involve overseeing regulatory programs, conducting outreach and engaging partners, providing technical and programmatic support to states, financing nutrient reduction activities, and conducting research and development. In September, EPA called upon states and stakeholders to intensify their efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in collaboration with EPA.    

Bureau of Reclamation in the LA Basin

WASHINGTON - Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López has released the Los Angeles Basin Study that looks at the changing demographics, climate change and competing interests for available water supplies and identifies options to meet the water needs of the Los Angeles area into the future. The study found that there is a potential water supply deficit for the region of approximately 160,000 acre-feet-per year by 2035 and 440,000 acre-feet-per-year or 25-percent less water than the region is projected to need in 2095. 

The study compiled and assessed the potential impacts of climate change in the Los Angeles area. These impacts include possible variations in precipitation and changes in the timing and intensity of storms through 2095, temperature increases of 3.5 degrees to 4 degrees Fahrenheit along the coast and 4.5 degrees to 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the mountains and desert, an increase in sea-level of 5-24 inches by 2050 and 17-66 inches by 2100, and an increased wildfire risk.

The Los Angeles area relies on imported water from the state water project and the Colorado River for about 57 percent of its current water supply. These imported supplies may be negatively impacted in the future by climate change, drought, and increasing demands. To address this increased uncertainty, the study focused on local water supply sources such as groundwater, which is an important component of the area’s overall water supply portfolio.

The Los Angeles Basin covers approximately 2,040 square miles and features a population of 9.9 million people that is projected to increase to more than 11 million through the next several decades. Nearly 92 percent of Los Angeles County's population resides within the basin, more than one-fourth of the State of California's 38.8 million residents.

This basin study was conducted as part of Reclamation's WaterSMART Program and was cost-shared between Reclamation, Los Angeles County Flood Control District and 20 local project partners. It is available on Reclamation's Basin Study Program website at

WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit


Shaping Water Access and Allocation

Boone, Katie and Melinda Laituri, Shaping Water Access and Allocation, A Relation Analysis of Water Use for Oil and Gas Development in Colorado, Colorado State University, National Institutes for Water Resources, 2016.

The state of Colorado’s Division of Water Resources considers water use for oil and gas (OG) extraction activities as short-term and an insignificant percentage of Colorado’s overall water consumption.

At the same time, the number of active OG wells in the state has gone from 22,500 in 2002 to almost 54,000 in 2016. Changing water use is particularly important on the South Platte River in Weld County and the Colorado River in Garfield County since they contain the largest percentage of active wells with 22,724 and 11,067 OG wells respectively. Throughout its lifecycle, each well uses between 3-8 million gallons, or between 9-24 acre feet of water. To meet the increasing demand for OG use, water suppliers, right holders, and Colorado’s diverse community of users are innovating ways to navigate the rules governing water access and allocation to find flexibility in the State’s water institutions.

With financial support from the National Institutes for Water Resources and the Colorado Water Institute, this research study examined how OG water users are able to find flexibility in the system when other uses have not, who is impacted by this type of flexibility, how, and what it means for access by other users.

A comparative case study methodology provided the necessary in depth examination of the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of social and political change processes, an important step in building our understanding of water access and allocation mechanisms. Then, an analysis of water rights for OG development was based on identifying current water sourcing strategies in Weld and Garfield counties. Data were gathered from published research and from a document analysis of primary source formal water court agreements including Substitute Water Supply Plans (SWSPs) and Water Right Decrees.

Trends in Oil and Gas Water Access and Allocation in Weld and
Garfield Counties

Water rights have evolved differently across Weld and Garfield counties and within the South Platte and Colorado River Basins. On the western side of the Continental Divide, Garfield County is the second largest producing county after Weld County with 11,000 active wells and located on the main stem of the Colorado River Basin (CRB). The main stem of the CRB has 268,000 or 8% of the state’s irrigated acres of farm and ranch lands.

In sum, issues of water access related to OG development have been identified piecemeal through individual conversation and in newspaper articles demonstrating the real concerns of farmers, environmental groups, and state legislators. No substantive studies have examined the tradeoffs of water access for the state’s diverse users. At the same time, formal policy often has divergent impacts on groups of people. This research examines these potential impacts and tradeoffs and will propose policy alternatives. The data analysis is still continuing so stay tuned for comprehensive research findings this fall!


International Water Association

At the recent IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Brisbane, IWA Publishing was pleased to launch a brand new Open Access publication. 

The Open Water Journal will be a high quality source for the latest
peer-reviewed articles on international water research: fundamental science, application and technology and impact of societal and political and economic factors. This will include research papers, critical reviews and short communications.

OWJ is excited to be embracing the age of Open Access, providing a valuable new resource for the global water community of today and tomorrow.


Flood Plain Management

Association of State Flood Plain Managers, News and Views

In this month's News&Views, we report on the first D.C. Flood Summit held in September.

The EPA promotes flood resilient resources for water and wastewater systems.

ASFPM Chair talks about how to prepare for "inconvenient" floods, and Policy Matters! explains how interagency and inter-organization collaboration are essential. 

The ASFPM Foundation has been BUSY! Check out the stories on the 2nd Larry Larson Speakers Series and how the foundation and partners are hosting a Digital Coast Fellow.

This month's Director's Desk is all about North Carolina mapping sites and how they helped during Hurricane Matthew.

And of course, we have our regular features on the ASFPM conference, Coastal GeoTools, social media tips, FEMA news and a rundown on upcoming ASFPM webinars, including two new webinars...and so much more.


Renewable Resources Journal

This issue from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation contains two articles on water resources:

An Assessment of Aquifer Water Quality

About 80 billion gallons of water is pumped from U.S. aquifers daily. Groundwater provides one-third of the water that is pumped by public supply systems to provide the water used in homes, schools, and businesses in cities and towns. Overall, about 130 million people currently get their drinking water from groundwater. Identifying trends in groundwater quality and investigating their causes is essential to helping water managers prepare for the future. This article discusses the various contaminants in groundwater that have human-health and ecological consequences. Read more...


Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity

The rate of ocean acidification that we have experienced since pre-industrial times and its projected continuation are potentially unparalleled in the last 300 million years of Earth’s history. As such, current ocean acidification represents a new and unprecedented chapter of marine ecosystem change that seems very likely to have a significant impact on marine species and ecosystems, various industries and communities, and global food security. This article provides an overview of the most up-to-date information on the impacts of ocean acidification on biodiversity. Read more...


USGS-USDA Nutrient Study

Garcia, Ana Maria, et al, Regional Effects of Agricultural Conservation Practices on Nutrient Transport in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, Environmental Science and Technology, 2016.

Nutrient reductions attributable to agricultural conservation practices in the Upper Mississippi Basin ranged from five to 34 percent for nitrogen and from one to 10 percent for total phosphorus, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The study integrated conservation science and farmer survey information obtained by the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) with the USGS SPARROWwater-quality model to determine the extent stream nutrient levels were affected by the use of conservation practices on farms.

Additional information on the USGS SPARROW modeling approach and a nutrient mapper and an online decision support tool for the Mississippi River basin is available online.

USDA developed CEAP to provide more quantitative science-based guidance on the benefits of conservation practices and identify further treatment needs. CEAP data has been found useful in providing information and guidance on the best use of funding for conservation and to facilitate the alignment of conservation programs with national environmental protection priorities such as the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.


Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Damian Chukwudi Ukwandu, An Exploration of the Different Dimensions of Sustainable Development, Dirasat, Administrative Sciences, Vol. 43, Supplement 1, 2016.

The concept of sustainable development became a very important lexicon in the development narrative decades ago with the publication of the Brundtland Report by the World Council on Environment and Development. With the publication of this report, sustainable development became firmly established as a new catch phrase, broadly embraced by institutions of global governance like the United Nations, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, development practitioners, national governments globally and even multinational corporations.

The Rio Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (1992), just like the 1972 Stockholm Declaration made a pledge internationally to respect and protect the interests of all, and protect the integrity of the global environment and development system. These pledges are contained in 27 Principles which address a wide range of aspects such as the economic, environmental, social and technological dimensions of sustainable development. This article takes a look at those dimensions of sustainable development in order to enable researchers, development practitioners and policy makers to have clarity on the concept.


Groundwater Corrosivity Study

Belitz, Kenneth, Jurgens, B.C., and Johnson, T.D., 2016, Potential corrosivity of untreated groundwater in the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5092, 16 p., .

Corrosive groundwater, if untreated, can dissolve lead and other metals from pipes and other components in water distribution systems. Two indicators of potential corrosivity—the Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) and the Potential to Promote Galvanic Corrosion (PPGC)—were used to identify which areas in the United States might be more susceptible to elevated concentrations of metals in household drinking water and which areas might be less susceptible. On the basis of the LSI, about one-third of the samples collected from about 21,000 groundwater sites are classified as potentially corrosive. On the basis of the PPGC, about two-thirds of the samples collected from about 27,000 groundwater sites are classified as moderate PPGC, and about one-tenth as high PPGC. Potentially corrosive groundwater occurs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

National maps have been prepared to identify the occurrence of potentially corrosive groundwater in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Eleven states and the District of Columbia were classified as having a very high prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, 14 states as having a high prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, 19 states as having a moderate prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, and 6 states as having a low prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater. These findings have the greatest implication for people dependent on untreated groundwater for drinking water, such as the 44 million people that are self-supplied and depend on domestic wells or springs for their water supply.

Radiation and Drinking Water

EPA Proposes Protective Action Guide for Drinking Water Following a Radiological Incident

During a radiological emergency, such as an accident at a nuclear power plant, radioactive material can be released into the environment. This radioactive material could get into rivers, lakes and streams that are used by public water suppliers to deliver drinking water to local residents. EPA is proposing a non-regulatory Protective Action Guide (PAG) to help officials determine the best way to prevent the public from experiencing the harmful effects from radiation in drinking water during an emergency. EPA is seeking public comment on the proposed Protective Action Guide (PAG) for Radiological Incidents for up to 45 days following publication in the Federal Register. 

Advisory Committee on Water Information, Looking Forward: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate, National Action Plan Update, Draft for Public Comment, Water Resources and Climate Change Workgroup, May 18, 2016.

The Workgroup is accepting comments through July 15, 2016; please send your comments and questions to:

As background, the Water Resources and Climate Change Workgroup is composed of more than a dozen agencies that have been working together on climate change adaptation since 2009. This document updates the 2011 National Action Plan. Agency co-chairs include Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and participating agencies include Army Corps of Engineers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, FEMA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The National Action Plan: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate  (NAP) was published in 2011 as the product of the Federal interagency Water Resources and  Climate Change Workgroup. Since then, member agencies have worked together  to make notable progress in advancing understanding of climate change impacts on water  resources and developing information and new approaches to adapt to these changes.  Meanwhile, the Nation has witnessed the effects of more intense storms, drought, and  unseasonable weather that is causing significant damage to property and loss of life.  Consequently, interest in building greater resilience to extreme weather phenomena and other  impacts of a changing climate has grown among state, tribal and local communities.

This draft document is not an inventory of the wide range of activity underway among water resources agencies throughout the Federal government; rather, it focuses on the highest priority actions that the Workgroup member agencies are planning to address in the next several years.


GAO Report on Adapting to Climate Change

Government Accountability Office, Climate Change: Selected Governments Have Approached Adaptation Through Laws and Long-Term Plans, Report to the Honorable Matthew Cartwright, House of Representatives, GAO-16-454, May 2016.

This report focuses on fiscal exposure to climate-related risks and describes (1) how selected governments have approached enhancing resilience to weather-related disasters through climate change adaptation and (2) steps the U.S. government has taken to enhance resilience through climate change adaptation. GAO reviewed literature and government documents; interviewed U.S. and other government officials and stakeholders; and selected a non-generalizable sample of four countries—Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the United Kingdom—and the European Union for further examination, based on criteria including stakeholder recommendations.


National Hydrologic Warning Council

The May 2016 newsletter of the NHWC contains a number of articles of interest. They include:

Forecasts from the California/Nevada River Forecast Center,

El Nino,

US Hydrologic Conditions

As well as information about the current officers of the organization. The web site includes publications that the NHWC has issued in the past years, mostly on topics like floods and droughts.

Increasing Water Security

Shah, Tushaar, Increasing Water Security: The Key to Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Water Partnership (GWP), Stockholm, Sweden,, Background Paper No. 22, 2016.

The new UN Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 embodies universal aspirations for achieving a better, more just, equitable, peaceful, and sustainable future and invites us to accept and embrace comprehensiveness and interconnectedness.

The Agenda fully recognizes that water is embedded in all aspects of development – food security, health, and poverty reduction – it is essential for economic growth, and it sustains the natural ecosystems on which everything else depends. The inclusion of the ‘water goal’ (SDG6) puts responsibility for water management and increasing water security in the hands of the water and water using sectors. The Agenda champions the need for an integrated approach to water resources management and provides a ‘green light’ to countries to implement their IWRM plans.

This GWP Technical Committee Background Paper is a timely response to the SDGs. It reviews the IWRM approach and its evolution over the past 25 years towards increasing water security – its successes and disappointments. It is essentially a simple idea which has gradually gained international acceptance, yet putting it into practice has not proved to be easy. IWRM has not been without its critics. Those who have tried to operationalize it have often applied a ‘one-size-fits-all package’ which does not recognize the unique nature of physical, social, economic, political, and environmental circumstances which determine how a country puts IWRM into practice. So it is not surprising that the outcome was often disappointing.

But there are also successes and based on these experiences this review concludes with some strong proposals for successful implementation. It suggests a framework to guide implementation based on the stage of a country’s economic and social evolution with each stage requiring different inputs and actions that are appropriate to a nation’s needs and capabilities. It also suggests a balance is needed between learning from rich countries and adapting to local conditions. The next step is to provide more detailed guidance for wise implementation of IWRM and in turn SDG6.


Congress on Sustaining Western Water

Congress on Sustaining Western Water, Renewable Resources Journal, Renewable Natural Resources Foundation, Vol. 30-2016, No. 1.

The past four years have seen extreme drought in the western United States with no relief in sight. While precipitation patterns in this region are highly variable, the National Climate Assessment predicts that drought trends will likely intensify over this century and beyond, with longer-term droughts anticipated. Nevertheless, population in the western states has increased rapidly, and the region continues to support significant agricultural production. Strategies for coping with drought have a long history in the region, but it will be a challenge to adapt and apply these strategies to severe projected droughts. This report is a summary of the presentations, findings and recommendations of expert speakers and delegates present at the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation’s 2015 Congress on Sustaining Western Water. Professionals from RNRF member organizations and leaders from government, industry, academia and nonprofit organizations attended the meeting.


EPA Releases Report on Conditions in Nation’s Wetlands

EPA has just released the National Wetland Condition Assessment: A Collaborative Survey of the Nation’s Wetlands. The report finds that less than half of wetland area, 48%, is in good condition based on plant community. Of the stressors the NWCA examined, physical alterations to wetland habitat such as surface compaction, ditches, or plant removal are the most widespread: 27% of wetland area nationally has high stress levels for surface hardening and vegetation removal, and 23% of wetland area has high stress levels for ditching. This is the first national monitoring study of the overall condition of wetlands conducted with a statistically-valid random sample approach.


Municipal Freshwater Scarcity

Government Accountability Office, Municipal Freshwater Scarcity, Report to Congressional Requestors, Technology Assessment, GAO 16-474, April 2016.

Water scarcity occurs when the demand for water in a given area approaches or exceeds available water supplies. A water utility facing scarcity may attempt to address it by reducing its demand on existing water supplies, increasing its water supplies, or both. Many mature technologies are available to address both of these areas. For example, a utility could try to improve the efficiency of its distribution system in order to reduce its demand on existing water supplies. Utilities can choose from wide variety of mature technologies to detect leaks, manage pressure, meter water flow, and assess the condition of pipes. Similarly, a utility may be able to increase supplies through choosing from many mature technologies that are available to treat nontraditional water sources such as seawater, brackish water, treated municipal wastewater, or storm water captured from developed surfaces.

Based on GAO’s nationwide survey of municipal water utilities, the percentage of utilities that treat nontraditional water sources for municipal use varies significantly across the United States. According to GAO’s statistical analysis, much of this regional variation can be explained by differences in underlying utility and watershed characteristics. In particular, very large utilities, utilities serving water-stressed areas, and utilities that manage additional services such as wastewater or storm water services are most likely to treat nontraditional water sources for municipal use. GAO also analyzed survey data regarding the challenges that municipal water utilities face in treating nontraditional water. The results of that analysis suggest that utilities that have experience treating nontraditional water sources find it easier to address financial, regulatory, and other challenges than utilities that have only studied the feasibility of doing so.


SECURE Water Act Report

The SECURE Water Report identifies climate change as a growing risk to Western water management and cites warmer temperatures, changes to precipitation, snowpack and the timing and quality of streamflow runoff across major river basins as threats to water sustainability. Water supply, quality and operations; hydropower; groundwater resources; flood control; recreation; and fish, wildlife and other ecological resources in the Western states remain at risk.

The report, which responds to requirements under the SECURE Water Act of 2009, shows several increased risks to western United States water resources during the 21st century. This is the second report produced for Congress. The first report was produced in 2011.

Specific projections include:

  • A temperature increase of 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century;
  • A precipitation increase over the northwestern and north-central portions of the Western U.S. and a decrease over the southwestern and south-central areas;
  • A decrease for almost all of the April 1st snowpack, a standard benchmark measurement used to project river basin runoff; and
  • A 7 to 27 percent decrease in April to July stream flow in several river basins, including the Colorado, the Rio Grande, and the San Joaquin.


West-Wide Climate Risk Assessments: Hydroclimate Projections (PDF - 10.78 MB)


GAO Report on Drinking Water

Government Accountability Office, Drinking Water: EPA Needs to Collect Information and Consistently Conduct Activities to Protect Underground Sources of Drinking Water, Report to Congressional Requestors, GAO-16-281, Feb. 2016.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not collected specific inspection and complete or consistent enforcement information, or consistently conducted oversight activities, to assess whether state and EPA-managed Underground Injection Control (UIC) class II programs are protecting underground sources of drinking water. EPA guidance calls for states and EPA regions to report certain information and for EPA to assess whether programs are effectively protecting underground sources of drinking water, but the agency does not. Specifically:

EPA annually collects summary data from state and EPA-managed programs on the types of inspections they conduct. However, these data are not specific enough to determine the number of different types of inspections that states and EPA regions are to conduct to meet their annual goals. Such goals are specified at the well level (e.g., to inspect 100 percent of wells associated with emergency responses). Under federal internal control standards, managers are to compare actual performance to planned or expected results and analyze significant differences. Without well-specific data on inspections, EPA cannot assess whether state and EPA-managed programs are meeting annual inspection goals.

EPA collects information on unresolved significant violations of state and EPA-managed programs to determine if the agency needs to take action to enforce applicable program requirements. However, GAO's analysis of a nongeneralizable sample of 93 significant violations for fiscal years 2008 through 2013 found that state and EPA-managed programs did not report data on such violations completely or consistently. For example, of 29 such violations that had not been enforced after 90 days as required, programs reported 7 to EPA. According to EPA and state officials, the cause was inconsistent interpretations of EPA's reporting guidance. EPA officials said they are aware that the data reported on such violations are not complete or consistent, but the agency has not clarified in guidance what data programs should report. Until it does so, EPA does not have reasonable assurance that it has the data needed to assess if it must take enforcement action.

EPA has not consistently conducted oversight activities necessary to assess whether state and EPA-managed programs are protecting underground sources of drinking water. For example, GAO found in June 2014 that EPA does not consistently conduct oversight activities, such as annual on-site program evaluations. According to EPA guidance, such evaluations should include a review of permitting and inspection files or activities to assess whether the state is protecting underground water. In California, for example, EPA did not regularly review permitting, and in July 2014, after a state review of permitting, EPA determined that the program was out of compliance with state and EPA requirements. EPA officials said that they have few resources to oversee UIC class II programs, but EPA has not conducted a workforce analysis consistent with GAO's work on strategic human capital management to identify the resources needed for such oversight. Without conducting such an analysis, EPA will not be able identify the human capital or other resources needed to carry out oversight of the UIC class II programs to help ensure that they protect underground sources of drinking water.


UN Newsletter on North America

Newsletter on North America, UN Environmental Programme, March 2016.

The latest regional newsletter highlights the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) work in providing leadership and encouraging partnership in caring for the environment in North America and around the world, on topics such as:

  • Building climate resilience in the Arctic
  • Climate change and sustainable energy
  • Tackling food waste
  • Curbing the illegal wildlife trade
  • Sustainable Development
  • UN Environment Assembly


White House Report on Sustainable Water Resources

Commitments to Action on Building a Sustainable Water Future, White House, March 22, 2016.


Water challenges are facing communities and regions across the United States, impacting millions of lives and costing billions of dollars in damages. Recent events, including record-breaking drought in the West, severe flooding in the Southeast, and the water-quality crisis in Flint, MI, have elevated a national dialogue on the state of our Nation’s water resources and infrastructure. This dialogue is increasingly important as a growing population and changing climate continue to exacerbate water challenges. On March 22, 2016—World Water Day—the Obama Administration hosted the first-ever White House Water Summit to shine a spotlight on the importance of cross-cutting, creative solutions to solving the water problems of today, as well as to highlight the innovative strategies that will catalyze change across the ways in which we use, conserve, protect, and think about water in the years to come. As part of the Summit, the Administration called on institutions and organizations from all sectors to make new commitments to build a sustainable water future in the United States. In response, institutions and organizations made the commitments in this document, as reported and described by respondents.


Water Infrastructure

Galloway, Gerald E., Aging US Water Infrastructure: A Badly Neglected National Problem, Statement to the Subcommittee on Water and Power, US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, July 25, 2013.

Grading the condition of the water infrastructure

Every four years, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) sends the nation a Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which grades the current state of its national infrastructure on a scale of A through F. In 2013, ASCE’s most recent Report Card gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+, a slight rise from the 2009 Report Card. As highlighted in figure 1 below, in the water arena all categories were rated at D or below except for ports which were rated C. ASCE indicates that since 1998, grades in all categories have been near failing primarily due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment.


Grades for America’s Infrastructure


Aviation D

Ports C


Bridges C+

Public Parks & Recreation C-


Dams D

Rail C+


Drinking Water D

Roads D


Energy D+

Schools D


Hazardous Waste D

Solid Waste B-


Inland Waterways D-

Transit D


Levees D-

Wastewater D



Figure 1. The ASCE 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, ASCE 2013 Report Card.


The cost to the nation to remediate identified deficiencies and support modernization of the national infrastructure by 2020 is in excess of $3.6 trillion. Figure 2 identifies ASCE’s estimated funding needs for water infrastructure, the expected funding given past history and the $187 billion funding gap that exists as a result. The ASCE figures are supported by information available from the federal agencies involved and other infrastructure reports.


Infrastructure System Needs

Total Needs, Billion$

Estimated Funding, Billion$

Funding Gap, Billion$





Inland Waterways & Marine Ports
















*The 2008 EPA Clean Watersheds Needs Survey indicated a need for $334 billion for 2007-2020.

**This figure covers only high hazard dams. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates the total need to be in excess of $53 billion.

Figure 2. Water sector resource needs through 2020, EPA, Clean Watersheds Needs Survey 2008.


Renewable Natural Resources Foundation Report

RNRF is pleased to announce the release of this special edition of the Renewable Resources Journal featuring the report of the 2015 Congress on Sustaining Western Water. Click here to download. 

The report features a summary of the presentations, findings, and recommendations of speakers and delegates representing government, industry, and the NGO community. 

More information on the Congress on Sustaining Western Water is available at our website



Drought and Water Use in the Western United States: The Western Water Landscape

Legal Issues and Constraints on Western Water Resilience

Pathways to Sustaining Western Water:
Sustaining Water Use in the Arid Southwest
Sustaining Water Use in the Rocky Mountains
California: Managing Groundwater for Drought, Clean Water, Food Security and Ecosystems

Water Transfers

Land-Use Policy and Water in the West

Forested Watersheds in a Hotter, Drier West: Meeting Adaptation Challenges

Managing Western Fish, Wildlife and Plants in an Era of Changing Climate and Increasing Drought

An Approach to Scenario Planning in the Colorado River Basin: The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study


Truckee River Basin Study

WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Reclamation has released its study of the Truckee Basin in California and Nevada, projecting that climate change may impact water supplies in the 21st century.  Now available online, this study provides water managers with information to better understand the basin’s water supply and demand from now until 2099, and also identifies potential options to help them meet future demands. 

"The Truckee Basin is an important source of water for eastern California and western Nevada and includes the iconic Lake Tahoe," Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said. "Reclamation and its partners now have the necessary information to develop options to ensure a sustainable water supply into the future."

Reclamation developed the study in partnership with the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Truckee River Flood Management Authority and Placer County Water Agency.

The Truckee Basin headwaters begin around Lake Tahoe. The basin includes the Truckee and Carson rivers and Pyramid Lake and encompasses the cities of Carson City, Reno and Sparks, as well as Reclamation's Newlands Project, all in Nevada.

According to the basin study, the Truckee Basin is heavily dependent on the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack and available supply is dependent on the availability to capture, store and manage water. Precipitation within the basin can vary greatly from the high elevations in the Sierra Nevada to the desert regions around Pyramid Lake. Year-to-year precipitation can also vary greatly, with several years of below- average precipitation being common.

The mean average annual temperature in the basin is anticipated to increase by up to five degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the twenty-first century, while annual precipitation within the basin may decrease slightly. The increase in temperature will change the timing and intensity of runoff, with more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow. Runoff will begin earlier, thus impacting the amount of water that can be stored in Truckee reservoirs because of current flood management requirements.

Also, limited storage within the basin will impact water supplies. For example, because of the earlier runoff, the ability to meet full storage after April will be reduced. Due to warming, basin reservoirs are also projected to have higher rates of evaporation, and will be less resilient during future droughts.  Lake Tahoe’s surface is projected to drop below its natural rim more frequently, causing flows into the Truckee River at Tahoe Dam to cease; making Truckee supplies dependent on smaller reservoirs with limited capacity.  

The study also found that the frequency and magnitude of flood events may increase within the basin. The likelihood of the basin experiencing more floods like the one in 1997 that heavily impacted downtown Reno and Sparks, as well as floods of lesser intensity, will increase 10 to 20 percent by 2050 and 30 to 50 percent by 2099.

Finally, the basin study identified structural and non-structural options to balance water supply benefits with flood risks, including working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow flexibility in managing reservoir flood space, among other options.

The Truckee Basin Study is a part of WaterSMART. The report is available online at


Waters to which the Clean Water Act applies

EPA and the Army Corps’ “Waters of the United States” Rule: Congressional Response and Options, Claudia Copeland, January 20, 2016, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700,, R43943

On May 27, 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule revising regulations that define the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Discharges to waters under CWA jurisdiction, such as the addition of pollutants from factories or sewage treatment plants and the dredging and filling of spoil material through mining or excavation, require a CWA permit. The rule was proposed in 2014 in light of Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 that created uncertainty about the geographic limits of waters that are and are not protected by the CWA. The rule, which becomes effective August 28, 2015, replaces EPA-Corps guidance that has governed permitting decisions since the Court’s rulings.

According to EPA and the Corps, their intent in proposing the rule was to clarify CWA jurisdiction, not expand it. Nevertheless, the rule has been extremely controversial, especially with groups representing property owners, land developers, and agriculture, who contend that it represents a massive federal overreach beyond the agencies’ statutory authority. Most state and local officials are supportive of clarifying the extent of CWA-regulated waters, but some are concerned that the rule could impose costs on states and localities as their own actions become subject to new requirements. Most environmental advocacy groups welcomed the proposal, which would more clearly define U.S. waters that are subject to CWA protections, but beyond that general support, some in these groups favor an even stronger rule. The final rule contains a number of changes to respond to criticisms of the proposal, but the revisions may not satisfy all critics of the rule.


Year 2015

Transboundary Aquifers

Rivera, Alfonso, Transboundary aquifers along the Canada–USA border: Science, policy and social issues, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, Volume 4, Part B, September 2015, Pages 623–643, Sept. 2015.

Since 2005, Canada has followed international developments in transboundary groundwater issues in cooperation with its southern neighbor the United States (USA) within the Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management Initiative (ISARM) of UNESCO. As a result, 10 Transboundary Aquifer Systems (TAS) were identified along the border between Canada and the USA. This study is an extensive review of the current state of the 10 TAS. Documentation of scientifically-based knowledge on TAS is an important step in identifying potential issues in policies that might be adopted to address shared water-resource issues.

Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF)

The Summer 2015 issue of the RNRF newsletter is available at:

This issue contains an article on the Congressional Forum on Climate Change and Food Production, hosted by RNRF on July 21. The issue also contains information about the Round Table Meeting on Arctic Energy Policy at the U.S. State Department. Finally, RNRF announces the winners of the 2015 sustained and outstanding achievement and excellence in journalism awards.

American Water Resources Association

Applied Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Water Resources IMPACT Magazine | May 2015

Guest Editors: Richard A. Engberg and Carol R. Collier

In 2012, the American Water Resources Association initiated a yearly award to recognize an outstanding water resources project in the United States that was conducted using IWRM. In 2014, 12 projects were nominated for the award.

The May 2015 issue of Water Resources IMPACT highlights 9 of these projects, all of which were excellent. The project described in the lead article, written by Ian Achimore of the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, was judged the winner of the 2014 AWRA IWRM award.


GAO Report on Water in the Energy Sector

Government Accountability Office, Water in the Energy Sector, Reducing Freshwater Use in Hydraulic Fracturing and Thermoelectric Power Plant Cooling, Technology Assessment, Report to Congressional Requestors, GAO-15-545, August 2015.

Many regions within the United States experience moderate to exceptional drought forcing state officials to make difficult choices regarding energy and water. Competition for freshwater continues to increase due to industrial, municipal, and especially agricultural and energy sector demand. The thermoelectric power industry, for example, accounted for 38 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the United States in 2010.

GAO has issued a series of six reports on the interdependencies between energy and water. In this report, GAO assessed advanced and emerging technologies that can reduce water use in hydraulic fracturing and thermoelectric power plant cooling. GAO also examined the impact of regional differences in thermoelectric power generation on water use in water-stressed versus unstressed areas of the United States.

Waterless and water-efficient fracturing technologies such as gas-based fracturing or foams have been used to reduce the use of freshwater in hydraulic fracturing operations, although the main benefit is enhanced hydrocarbon recovery. The geologic formation characteristics of shale plays largely determine their use. According to experts GAO consulted, hydraulic fracturing operators are managing their water resources more efficiently—for example, by treating produced water for recycle and reuse—as an important part of their overall strategy to reduce cost, improve operational efficiency, and reduce the demand for freshwater.


GAO Report on Floods and Crops

Government Accountability Office, Climate Change, Better Management of Exposure to Potential Future Losses is Needed for Federal Flood and Crop Insurance, Report to Congressional Requestors, GAO-15-28, Oct. 2014.

The May 2014 National Climate Assessment indicates that the frequency and/or severity of many weather and climate extremes may increase with climate change. Public and private property insurers can bear a large portion of the financial impact of such weather-related losses. In the public sector, federal insurance includes the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the federal crop insurance program, managed by the Risk Management Agency (RMA).

Since GAO’s 2007 report on flood and crop insurance, exposure growth in hazard-prone areas has increased losses, and climate change and related increases in extreme weather events may further increase such losses in coming decades. Scientific and industry studies GAO reviewed generally found that increasing growth and property values in hazard-prone areas have increased losses to date and that climate change may compound this effect. From 2007 through 2013, data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Risk Management Agency (RMA) show that exposure to potential losses for insured property grew from $1.3 trillion to $1.4 trillion (8 percent). According to industry data, private sector exposure to such loss grew from $60.7 trillion to $66.5 trillion (10 percent) from 2007 through 2012. Federal exposure to uninsured loss also increased by 46 percent over this period, based on a 2013 analysis by the Congressional Research Service. According to the studies GAO reviewed, climate change may substantially increase losses by 2040 and increase losses from about 50 to 100 percent by 2100.

GAO recommends that FEMA and RMA take additional steps to encourage flood and crop insurance policyholders to adopt building and agricultural practices that reduce long-term risk and federal exposure to losses. FEMA agreed with GAO’s recommendation, and RMA neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO’s recommendation.


GAO Report on Great Lakes

Government Accountability Office, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Improved Data Collection and Reporting Would Enhance Oversight, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives, GAO-15-526, June 2015.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) seeks to address issues such as water quality contamination and nonnative, or “invasive,” species that threaten the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem. A Task Force of 11 federal agencies, chaired by the EPA Administrator, oversees the GLRI. Task Force agencies conduct work themselves or through agreements with nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, or other entities.

Among other things, GAO recommended in its draft report that EPA determine if it should continue using the Great Lakes Accountability System (GLAS) or acquire a different system and ensure that the agency develops guidance for entering data and establishes data quality control activities. EPA took action to address these recommendations as GAO completed its work. GAO reviewed the actions taken and determined that the recommendations had been addressed. As a result, GAO removed the recommendations.

Hydrology and Water Security

Gordon Young, Siegfried Demuth, Anil Mishra, and Christophe Cudennec, Hydrological Sciences and Water Security: An Overview, Proceedings of the 11th Kovacs Colloquium, Paris, France, June 2014.

This paper provides an introduction to the concepts of water security including not only the risks to human wellbeing posed by floods and droughts, but also the threats of inadequate supply of water in both quantity and quality for food production, human health, energy and industrial production, and for the natural ecosystems on which life depends. The overall setting is one of constant change in all aspects of Earth systems. Hydrological systems (processes and regimes) are changing, resulting from varying and changing precipitation and energy inputs, changes in surface covers, mining of groundwater resources, and storage and diversions by dams and infrastructures. Changes in social, political and economic conditions include population and demographic shifts, political realignments, changes in financial systems and in trade patterns.

There is an urgent need to address hydrological and social changes simultaneously and in combination rather than as separate entities, and thus the need to develop the approach of ‘socio-hydrology’. All aspects of water security, including the responses of both UNESCO and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) to the concepts of socio-hydrology, are examined in detailed papers within the volume titled Hydrological Sciences and Water Security: Past, Present and Future.

EPA Report on Hydraulic Fracturing, External Review Draft

U.S. EPA. Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources (External Review Draft). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-15/047, 2015.

This assessment provides a review and synthesis of available scientific literature and data to assess the potential for hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas to impact the quality or quantity of drinking water resources, and identifies factors affecting the frequency or severity of any potential impacts. The scope of this assessment is defined by the hydraulic fracturing water cycle which includes five main activities:

  1. Water acquisition – the withdrawal of ground or surface water needed for hydraulic fracturing fluids;
  2. Chemical mixing – the mixing of water, chemicals, and proppant on the well pad to create the hydraulic fracturing fluid;
  3. Well injection – the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into the well to fracture the geologic formation;
  4. Flowback and Produced water – the return of injected fluid and water produced from the formation to the surface, and subsequent transport for reuse, treatment, or disposal; and
  5. Wastewater treatment and waste disposal – the reuse, treatment and release, or disposal of wastewater generated at the well pad, including produced water.


Costs of Inaction at the Salton Sea

Cohen, Michael J., Hazard’s Toll, the Costs of Inaction at the Salton Sea, Pacific Institute, CA, Sept. 2014.

The Salton Sea, a 350 square mile saltwater lake in southeastern California, faces disaster. In the next fifteen years:

 The amount of water flowing into the lake will decrease by about 40%;

 Its surface will drop by twenty feet and its volume will decrease by more than 60%;

 Salinity will triple; and

 The shrinking lake will expose 100 square miles of dust–generating lake bottom to the region’s blowing winds, worsening the already poor air quality in the region.

The deteriorating conditions at the Salton Sea will have adverse impacts on public health, property values, agricultural production, recreational revenue, and the region’s habitat value for birds and wildlife generally. These impacts impose costs on people in the area. 

The high costs of the California Natural Resources Agency’s proposed ‘preferred alternative’ have inhibited deliberation and deterred any meaningful investment in the revitalization of the Salton Sea. The assumption seems to be that delaying action at the Salton Sea will result in business as usual, with no additional costs. This is clearly not the case. Because the Salton Sea has changed over the past decade and will soon enter a period of very rapid deterioration, the costs of inaction are escalating rapidly. When a project is implemented dramatically affects the inaction costs estimated above. Postponing decisions and actions for the Salton Sea imposes significant costs on the people and property owners in the region, and lesser costs on Californians generally.

EPA Report on Stream Connectivity 

U.S. EPA. Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence (Final Report). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-14/475F, 2015.

The objective of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA’s) Office of Research and Development developed this report to inform rulemaking by the U.S. EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (U.S. ACE) on the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Its purpose is to summarize current scientific understanding about the connectivity and mechanisms by which streams and wetlands, singly or in aggregate, affect the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of downstream waters. The focus of the review is on surface and shallow subsurface connections of small or temporary streams, nontidal wetlands, and certain open waters. Because this report is a technical review of peer-reviewed scientific literature, it neither considers nor sets forth legal standards for CWA jurisdiction, nor does it establish EPA policy.

EPA identified five categories of functions by which streams, wetlands, and open waters influence the timing, quantity, and quality of resources available to downstream waters:

• Source: the net export of materials, such as water and food resources;

• Sink: the net removal or storage of materials, such as sediment and contaminants;

• Refuge: the protection of materials, especially organisms;

• Transformation: the transformation of materials, especially nutrients and chemical contaminants, into different physical or chemical forms; and

• Lag: the delayed or regulated release of materials, such as storm water. 

These functions are not mutually exclusive; for example, the same stream or wetland can be both a source of organic matter and a sink for nitrogen.

USGS Report on Water-Energy Nexus

Healy, R.W., Alley, W.M., Engle, M.A., McMahon, P.B., and Bales, J.D., 2015, The water-energy nexus—An earth science perspective: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1407, 107 p.,

Water availability and use are closely connected with energy development and use. Water cannot be delivered to homes, businesses, and industries without energy, and most forms of energy development require large amounts of water. The United States faces two significant and sometimes competing challenges: to provide sustainable supplies of freshwater for humans and ecosystems and to ensure adequate sources of energy for future generations. This report reviews the complex ways in which water and energy are interconnected and describes the earth science data collection and research that can help the Nation address these important challenges.

The earth sciences have been a cornerstone in developing our current understanding of the water-energy nexus. A full understanding of the nexus, however, is limited by uncertainty in our knowledge of fundamental issues, such as the quantity of freshwater that is available, the amount of water that is used in energy development, the effects that emerging energy development technologies have on water quality and quantity, and the amount of energy required to treat and deliver freshwater. Enhanced data collection and research can improve our understanding of these important issues and thereby lay the groundwork for informed resource management.

Relevant earth science issues analyzed and discussed herein include freshwater availability; water use; ecosystems health; assessment of saline water resources; assessment of fossil-fuel, uranium, and geothermal resources; subsurface injection of wastewater and carbon dioxide and related induced seismicity; climate change and its effect on water availability and energy production; byproducts and waste streams of energy development; emerging energy-development technologies; and energy for water treatment and delivery.

Water Use Trends in the United States

Donnelly, Kristina and Heather Cooley, Water Use Trends in the United States, Pacific Institute, Oakland, CA, April 2015.

Total water use in the United States declined markedly in the five-year period ending in 2010, according to data released from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Total water use in the U.S. is now lower than it was in 1970, despite continued population and economic growth. The Pacific Institute analyzes and explains the factors contributing to this positive news, while including a cautionary note, in a new report released on April 15.

The Pacific Institute, an internationally-renowned independent think tank focused on water issues reviewed the USGS’ most recent data collection, along with historical, national water use data. Remarkably, water use in 2010 was down in all sectors – agriculture, municipal and industrial, and thermoelectric power. The Pacific Institute’s new report shows that reductions in water use for thermoelectric power generation – the single largest use of water in the U.S. – accounted for nearly two-thirds of the reduction in water use between 2005 and 2010. This represents an important reversal of a 25-year trend of increasing water use to produce energy. In addition, water use for agricultural irrigation was at its lowest level in more than 40 years, even while the number of acres irrigated increased.

The report shows that, from 2005 – 2010, per capita water use in the United States declined 17% to 1,200 gallons per person per day, levels not seen since the 1940s and the single largest decline in any five-year period. Moreover, the economic productivity of water – which measures the dollars of Gross Domestic Product per unit of water used – increased by 20% during that period to an all-time high of $11.49 per 100 gallons, an indication that the U.S. produces far more wealth, with less water than at any time in the past.

While these trends reveal overall improvements in the management of our nation’s water, the current pace of its use is still not sustainable. Continued population and economic growth, along with the impacts of climate change, will strain the amount of water available for a thirsty nation.

“The data suggest that national water use is moving in the right direction, but this doesn’t mean the work is done or that existing efforts are sufficient,” states lead author Kristina Donnelly. “We must continue to improve water use efficiency in our homes, businesses, and on America’s farms in order to ensure a sustainable water supply for the nation.”


Water Use in the Denver Basin

Binney, Peter D., "Conjunctive Use in the Denver Basin: The Three Way Agreement" (2000).Water and Growth in the West (Summer Conference, June 7-9).

The rapidly developing communities in the south Denver area include a series of incorporated towns, special purpose (metropolitan and water) districts and unincorporated areas of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. Recent projections indicate that this area will see a four-fold increase in their water demands at the ultimate build-out level.

These communities lie outside the Combined Service Area of the Denver Water Board and have been developing their own water supplies to meet their municipal demands. Approximately two thirds of their water supplies are developed from the non-tributary groundwater supplies in the Denver Basin that underlie these communities. Because of the physical nature of this aquifer, it is considered a non-renewable water resource and so the primary water supply is depleting as water is withdrawn for consumptive uses. County commissioners and utility managers have recognized that eventually new and sustainable water resources will have to be developed for this area and have initiated a process to identity when and how those water sources could be developed.


The Douglas County Commissioners have supported the development of the South Metro Water Supply Study Board (“Study Board”) as the responsible special-purpose district to investigate the alternatives available for developing these new water sources. The Study Board has responded to a series of resolutions that have resulted in a three-way agreement with the Denver Water Board and the Colorado River Water Conservation District. The planning process also responds to the Denver Water Board’s 1995 Resource Statement that outlines the terms under which this well established water utility will consider co-operative efforts or water supply contracts with new areas of demand outside the Combined Service Area..

The participants in that Agreement have all recognized that the key to successfully addressing the many issues involved will require a level of co-operation and collaboration that has been atypical of water development in the West. Limited and drought-prone water resources coupled with increasingly complex regulatory and decision-making settings have severely restricted the ability of municipalities to structurally develop water resources to meet future consumptive demands. Co-operative planning, development and operation of regional water resources between the basin-of-origin, existing water utilities and the new growth areas as well as regulators and the public interest are seen as a viable way in which water supply infrastructure needs will be met in the future.


Adapting to Climate Change in California 

Davis, Frank W. and Elizabeth Chornesky, Adapting to Climate Change in California, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2014 70:62, University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Many aspects of the Californian approach to controlling the greenhouse gases that cause climate change now have a sufficient track record to provide potential models or lessons for national and even international action. In comparison, the state’s efforts on climate change adaptation, although multifaceted, are less well developed and thus far have focused largely on information sharing, impact assessments, and planning. Still, adaptation could advance more quickly in California than in many other regions, given relatively high public awareness and concern, extensive scientific information, a strong tradition of local and regional planning, and some enabling policies and institutions. Much more political support and sufficient financing will have to be mustered at state and local levels to enable new projects and initiatives to cope with sea level rise, water management, and ecosystem adaptation, not to mention public health and other key areas of concern. Even so, California’s initial efforts to adapt to unavoidable changes in climate may offer insights for other governments that will, inevitably, need to fashion their own adaptation strategies.

EPA Report on Fracking

The EPA released its peer-reviewed analysis of over two years of data from the FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry 1.0. FracFocus is a publicly accessible website, managed by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, where oil and gas production well operators can disclose information about ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing fluids at individual wells.

Along with the report, the EPA is making available the:

The FracFocus 1.0 data analysis will be combined with a broad review of existing literature, other EPA research, and input we’ve collected through our outreach efforts in the Draft Assessment of Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. When final, the Assessment will provide a new lens to help our states and communities better understand the potential impacts on our drinking water resources from hydraulic fracturing.


The Quality of the Nation’s Groundwater

About 115 million people—more than one-third of the Nation’s population—rely on groundwater for drinking water. As the Nation’s population grows, the need for high-quality drinking-water supplies becomes even more urgent.

Over the last two decades, USGS scientists have assessed water quality in source (untreated) water from 6,600 wells in extensive regional aquifers that supply most of the groundwater pumped for the Nation’s drinking water, irrigation, and other uses. This comprehensive sampling, along with detailed information on geology, hydrology, geochemistry, and chemical and water use, can be used to explain how and why aquifer vulnerability to contamination varies across the Nation.

The recently completed national summary report of the quality of the Nation’s groundwater is now available online



NOAA 2014 Climate Summary

2014 Earth's warmest year on record;

December 2014 record warm; Global oceans also record warm for 2014

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2014 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. The December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was also the highest on record.

·  During 2014, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 135 years in the 1880–2014 record, surpassing the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.07°F (0.04°C). 

·  Record warmth was spread around the world, including Far East Russia into western Alaska, the western United States, parts of interior South America, most of Europe stretching into northern Africa, parts of eastern and western coastal Australia, much of the northeastern Pacific around the Gulf of Alaska, the central to western equatorial Pacific, large swaths of northwestern and southeastern Atlantic, most of the Norwegian Sea, and parts of the central to southern Indian Ocean.

·  During 2014, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 1.80°F (1.00°C) above the 20th century average. This was the fourth highest among all years in the 1880–2014 record. 

·  During 2014, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all years in the 1880–2014 record, surpassing the previous records of 1998 and 2003 by 0.09°F (0.05°C). 

·  Looking above Earth's surface at certain layers of the atmosphere, two different analyses examined NOAA satellite-based data records for the lower and middle troposphere and the lower stratosphere.


B. I. Cook, T. R. Ault, J. E. Smerdon, Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Sci. Adv. 1, e1400082 (2015).

In the Southwest and Central Plains of Western North America, climate change is expected to increase drought severity in the coming decades. These regions nevertheless experienced extended Medieval-era droughts that were more persistent than any historical event, providing crucial targets in the paleoclimate record for benchmarking the severity of future drought risks.

We use an empirical drought reconstruction and three soil moisture metrics from 17 state-of-the-art general circulation models to show that these models project significantly drier conditions in the latter half of the 21st century compared to the 20th century and earlier paleoclimatic intervals.

This desiccation is consistent across most of the models and moisture balance variables, indicating a coherent and robust drying response to warming despite the diversity of models and metrics analyzed. Notably, future drought risk will likely exceed even the driest centuries of the Medieval Climate Anomaly (11001300 CE) in both moderate (RCP 4.5) and high (RCP 8.5) future emissions scenarios, leading to unprecedented drought conditions during the last millennium.


Cody, Betsy A., et al,
Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, R42947, Jan. 23, 2015. 

The 114th Congress faces many water resource development, management, and protection issues. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new infrastructure, such as water supply augmentation, hydropower projects, navigation improvements, and efforts to restore aquatic ecosystems. These issues often arise at the regional or local levels, but often have a federal connection.

Ongoing issues include competition over water, drought and flood responses and policies, competitiveness and efficiency of U.S. harbors and waterways, and innovative and alternative financing approaches. The 114th Congress also may continue oversight of operations of federal infrastructure during drought and low-flow conditions, past large-scale flooding issues (e.g., Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, Missouri and Mississippi River floods), and balancing hydropower generation, recreational use, and protection of threatened and endangered species.

 In addition to oversight, each Congress also provides appropriations for major federal water resource agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). 

Because of recent water conditions, disasters, or legal or agency developments, certain river basin issues are particularly likely to receive congressional attention during the 114th Congress. The Columbia River, Missouri River, and Sacramento and San Joaquin River (Central Valley Project) basins fall into this category. Other potential topics of congressional interest include emergency drought or flood legislation, private and public hydropower, water research and science investment and coordination, aging infrastructure, and environmental policy.


Year 2014

Poddar, Sandeep, Water – Threat of the Century, Green University Review of Social Sciences, Vol. 01, Issue 01, June 2014.

Population growth, climate change, and mismanagement of water resources and unnecessary waste of water threatens the sources of potable water. Agriculture and energy resources also face problem due to water scarcity. Global warming can cause a severe condition by 2100. In spite of using ground water in the agricultural sector, waste water can be used, keeping in mind the proper disinfection and pollution criteria. With increase of population, the global food production requirement is going to be double over the next 40 years to meet the needs. And we cannot increase the usage of river and ground water.


Russo, Tess, Katherine Alfredo, and Joshua Fisher, Sustainable Water Management in Urban, Agricultural, and Natural Systems, Water, 2014, 6, 3934-3956.

Sustainable water management (SWM) requires allocating between competing water sector demands, and balancing the financial and social resources required to support necessary water systems. The objective of this review is to assess SWM in three sectors: urban, agricultural, and natural systems. This review explores the following questions: (1) How is SWM defined and evaluated? (2) What are the challenges associated with sustainable development in each sector? (3) What are the areas of greatest potential improvement in urban and agricultural water management systems? And (4) What role does country development status have in SWM practices?

The methods for evaluating water management practices range from relatively simple indicator methods to integration of multiple models, depending on the complexity of the problem and resources of the investigators. The two key findings and recommendations for meeting SWM objectives are: (1) all forms of water must be considered usable, and reusable, water resources; and (2) increasing agricultural crop water production represents the largest opportunity for reducing total water consumption, and will be required to meet global food security needs. The level of regional development should not dictate sustainability objectives, however local infrastructure conditions and financial capabilities should inform the details of water system design and evaluation.


International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC)

IGRAC publishes new Transboundary Aquifers of the World Map

IGRAC has published the new Transboundary Aquifers of the World Map (TBA Map). The TBA Map 2014 shows 608 identified transboundary aquifers, including 226 transboundary ‘groundwater bodies' as defined in the European Union Water Framework Directive (EU WFD), underlying almost every nation.

TBA Map 2014

The TBA Map 2014 shows the state of information presently available on the occurrence and extent of transboundary aquifers world-wide. The map provides a global overview of these important shared water resources and intends to encourage further research and assessment thereof. The map is based on the most recent inventory results of many active working groups around the world. Inventories and assessment of TBAs across the world, followed by information exchange among states sharing an aquifer are considered prerequisites for appropriate TBA governance. This map aims to contribute to raising awareness on the importance of the governance of shared aquifer resources and to building the much needed global knowledge base. Full detail on the methodology creating this map as well as definitions and additional information such as on the legend are given on the back side of the map. 

Increasing number of TBA's

There are now 608 identified transboundary aquifers, including 226 transboundary ‘groundwater bodies' as defined in the European Union Water Framework Directive (EU WFD), underlying almost every nation. At present there are 83 TBAs in Africa, 73TBAs in Americas, 138 TBAs in Asia and 1 TBA in Oceania. In Europe 87 TBAs have been identified and 226 transboundary groundwater bodies (GWB). The number of TBAs and GWB has been increasing steadily since the first ‘Transboundary Aquifers of the World Map' was released in 2009 (380) and in 2012 (455). It is likely that new TBAs will still be identified in the future and that the delineation of existing TBAs may be refined once further studies are conducted.


Tracking the Nitrate Pulse to the Gulf of Mexico 

A new USGS article in Environmental Science and Technology describes how advanced optical sensor technology is being used in the Mississippi River basin to accurately track the nitrate pulse to the Gulf of Mexico.

Nitrate data collected every hour at the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge station is being used to improve the accuracy of nitrate load estimates to the Gulf of Mexico.

Track nitrate levels at selected main stem and large tributary stations throughout the Mississippi River Basin:

Iowa River at Wapello, IA

Illinois River at Florence, IL

Ohio River at Olmsted, IL

Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, LA


Access real-time nitrate data at over 80 stations nationwide.

These stations are operated in cooperation with numerous local, state, and other federal agencies and supported by the USGS National Stream Quality Accounting Network, Cooperative Water Program, and the National Water-Quality Assessment Program.

Please contact Brian Pellerin,, if you have any questions regarding the article.


Chesapeake Bay Program

The Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary and its watershed is home to nearly 18 million people. In 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Agreement established the Chesapeake Bay Program, a landscape-level partnership charged with bay restoration. Al Todd served as the Bay Program’s U.S. Forest Service liaison from 1992-98 and now is executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Todd spoke with the Sustainable Forests Roundtable about the Bay Program, which relies heavily on forests to reach its restoration goals.

More information about the Chesapeake Bay Program can be found on the web at

“All future developments have to be offset; there can be no new sources of pollution, essentially. Some see that as a real opportunity in the realm of forests. Forests are a permanent offset to many of these issues, whether that means future reinvestments in restoration, urban forestry or protection of existing forests. Water conservation was high on our list, so we did fairly extensive forest mapping on the watershed to see where the highest value of forest is for watershed protection and watershed resilience. We were able to use data from a variety of GIS databases – soils, water supply protection, patch dynamics, fisheries info.

Sea level rise is going to have a huge financial impact. On the mitigation side, obviously that’s where we’re trying to talk trees. In the long run, globally, that’s part of our solution. Environmental markets, working on cap and trade. We do tree planting for carbon offsets.

The two biggest water quality threats are manure from agriculture and stormwater runoff. One of our biggest struggles is around social issues, receptivity – what types of incentives will work. There are a lot of tools, but we still struggle with trying to get private landowners to participate. But we can kind of be the broker for federal programs. The farmers really do like to work with a nonprofit or conservation group versus the government. Many of them just wouldn’t prefer letting the government on their farm.”


National Scale Assessment of Mercury Contamination in Streams
Released: 10/14/2014 12:07:19 PM

A new USGS report presents a comprehensive assessment of mercury contamination in streams across the United States. It highlights the importance of environmental processes, monitoring, and control strategies for understanding and reducing stream mercury levels.

Methylmercury concentrations in fish exceed the human health criterion in about one in four U.S. streams.  

Mercury contamination of fish is the primary cause of fish consumption advisories, which currently exist in every state in the nation. Mercury can travel long distances in the atmosphere and be deposited in watersheds, thus contaminating fish even in areas with no obvious source of mercury pollution.

“Understanding the source of mercury, and how mercury is transported and transformed within stream ecosystems, can help water resource managers identify which watersheds are most vulnerable to mercury contamination. They can then prioritize monitoring and management actions,” said William Werkheiser, USGS Associate Director for Water.

Some of the highest fish mercury levels were found in southeastern U.S. streams draining forested watersheds containing abundant wetlands.

Wetlands provide ideal conditions for atmospherically deposited mercury to be converted to methlymercury — which enters the aquatic food web and ultimately bioaccumulates in fish, especially top predator game fish such as largemouth bass. Thus, wetland construction or restoration (for example, to improve habitat or to filter nutrients and sediment) should balance the potential for increased methylmercury production against the anticipated ecological and water-quality benefits of the wetlands.

Elevated mercury levels also were noted in areas of the western U.S. affected by historical gold and mercury mining.

Fish mercury levels were lowest in urban streams, despite an abundance of sources of inorganic mercury. This occurs because urban streams lack conditions, such as wetlands, that are conducive to production and bioaccumulation of methylmercury.

In contrast to other environmental contaminants, mercury emission reduction strategies need to consider global mercury sources in addition to domestic sources. Reductions in domestic mercury emissions are likely to result in lower mercury levels in fish in the eastern U.S., where domestic emissions contribute a large portion of atmospherically deposited mercury. In contrast, emission controls will provide smaller benefits in the western U.S., where reduced domestic emissions may be offset by increased emissions from Asia.

Atmospheric mercury emissions from municipal and medical waste incineration, metallurgical processes, and other sources have been reduced in the U.S. by more than 60 percent since 1990. Mercury concentrations in lake sediment, fish tissue, and precipitation have decreased in some areas of the U.S. during recent decades, coincident with mercury reduction legislation. The development of a national monitoring approach will be critical to track the effectiveness of future management actions.

A complete description of the mercury study by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program is available online. Additional information on USGS mercury research is also available online.


GAO Report on USDA Climate Change Efforts

Climate Change: USDA’s Ongoing Efforts Can Be Enhanced with Better Metrics and More Relevant Information for Farmers, Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-755, Sept. 2014.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) climate change priorities for agriculture include, among other things, providing better information to farmers on future climate conditions. These priorities generally align with national priorities set by the Administration, which include promoting actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advancing climate science, developing tools for decision makers, and developing better projections of future climate conditions. USDA is engaged in research efforts aimed at better understanding climate change’s impacts on agriculture and providing technical assistance to farmers. Through the use of existing conservation and energy programs, USDA aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester (store) carbon so it is not released, or is actively withdrawn, from the atmosphere.

GAO recommends that USDA develop performance measures that better reflect the breadth of USDA climate change efforts and use its performance plans and reports to provide information on how the agency plans to achieve its goals and the status of its efforts. GAO also recommends that USDA develop and provide information to farmers on the economic costs and returns of taking certain actions in response to climate change. USDA concurred with these recommendations.

New USGS Study Summarizes 20 year Occurrence and Trends of Pesticides in U.S. Streams and Rivers 

Levels of pesticides continue to be a concern for aquatic life in many of the Nation’s rivers and streams in agricultural and urban areas, according to a new USGS study spanning two decades (1992-2011).  In contrast, pesticide levels seldom exceeded human health benchmarks.

Over half a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the U.S. to increase crop production and reduce insect-borne disease, but some of these pesticides are occurring at concentrations that pose a concern for aquatic life.

The proportion of streams with one or more pesticides that exceeded an aquatic-life benchmark was similar between the two decades for streams and rivers draining agricultural and mixed-land use areas, but much greater during the 2002-2011 for streams draining urban areas. Fipronil, an insecticide that disrupts the central nervous system of insects, was the pesticide most frequently found at levels of potential concern for aquatic organisms in urban streams during 2002-2011. Fipronil registration and subsequent use in the U.S. began during the late 1990’s and it was used as an alternative to organophosphate insecticides for residential and commercial applications during the early-2000’s.

Since 1992, there have been widespread trends in concentrations of individual pesticides, some down and some up, mainly driven by shifts in pesticide use due to regulatory changes, market forces, and introduction of new pesticides.

Access the article and additional information including data, reports, and maps of pesticide status, trends, and use at


Government Accountability Office, Missouri River Flood and Drought, Experts Agree the Corps Took Appropriate Action, Given the Circumstances, but Should Examine New Forecasting Techniques, GAO-14-741, Sept. 2014.

The Missouri River stretches from western Montana to St. Louis, Missouri. The Corps manages six dams and reservoirs on the river to provide flood control and for other purposes, such as recreation and navigation. The Corps bases reservoir release decisions on the guidance in the Master Manual. In the 2011 flood, the Corps managed the highest runoff volume since 1898, resulting in record reservoir releases. Subsequently, drought occurred in the basin in 2012 and 2013.

GAO was asked to review the Corps’ release decisions and communication during the flood and drought. This report examines (1) experts’ views on the Corps’ release decisions; (2) experts’ recommendations to improve the Corps’ release decisions; and (3) stakeholders' views on the Corps’ communication, as well as any suggested improvements. GAO worked with the National Academy of Sciences to convene a meeting of nine experts to discuss the Corps’ data, forecasts, and release decisions. GAO also interviewed 45 Missouri River basin stakeholders, including state and local agencies, among others, to discuss their views on the Corps’ communication. The views of stakeholders are not generalizable.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Corps evaluate the pros and cons of incorporating new forecasting techniques into its management of the Missouri River reservoirs. The Department of Defense concurred with the recommendation.


Amarasinghe, U. A.; Smakhtin, V. 2014. Global water demand projections: past, present and future. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 32p. (IWMI Research Report 156). doi: 10.5337/2014.212

Water demand projections (WDPs) are widely used for future water resource planning. Accurate WDPs can reduce waste or scarcity associated with overdevelopment or underdevelopment, respectively, of water resources. Considering that the projection period of some WDPs have now passed, this paper examines how closely such past projected withdrawals match current water withdrawals to identify lessons that can be learned and strengthen future studies on WDPs. Six WDPs conducted before 1990 and seven conducted after 1990 are analyzed in detail. The review shows that the pre-1990 WDPs, which considered population as the main driver of change, overpredicted current water use by 20 to 130%. Unrealistic assumptions on the norms of water use in different sectors were the main reasons for large discrepancies.

The post-1990 WDPs had sophisticated modeling frameworks. They integrated many exogenous and endogenous drivers of food and water supply and demand, with refined estimation procedures for domestic and industrial sectors. Yet, the post-1990 WDPs of the ‘business as usual’ (BAU) scenarios show substantial underestimation globally, and large deviations for sectors and countries, from the current water-use patterns; the sustainable water use scenarios are even more downward biased. The average per capita domestic water withdrawals at present already exceed projections made by the BAU scenario for 2025. Still, many low-income countries have fairly low levels of withdrawals. The demand projections for the industrial sector are no better; the relatively large differences are in the low-income countries. BAU projections for the agriculture sector are mostly under- or over-estimated (-11% to 3%). For India, the underestimation ranges from 20 to 90 billion cubic meters (Bm3) or 3 to 14% of the total water withdrawals. For China, they over-estimated the demand by 37-54 Bm3 or 7 to 11% of the total withdrawals. The projections for many small countries also differ substantially compared to their current water withdrawals. Moreover, there is no analysis that assesses the accuracy of projections.

Overall, the value of long-term country-level projections in global WDPs is inadequate for local water resource planning. The accuracy and value of global WDPs could be increased, if past trends, spatial variation across and within countries, and influence of rapidly changing key exogenous and endogenous drivers of water demand in different sectors are taken into account. For individual countries, short-term projections and sensitivity analysis can be more useful.



Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Provides Funding to Target Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie, Sept. 3, 2014


WASHINGTON -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy today announced that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) will provide almost $12 million to federal and state agencies to protect public health by targeting harmful algal blooms (HABs) in western Lake Erie. The funding builds upon the GLRI’s on-going efforts to reduce algal blooms and will be made available to Ohio, Michigan and Indiana state agencies and to the U.S. Geological Survey, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


“The importance of clean water cannot be overstated, which is why the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is taking further action to target harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This important funding will address the immediate need for state and federal agencies to protect public health and build upon on-going efforts to reduce harmful algal blooms.”


The new FY 2014 funding will be used to:

·     Expand monitoring and forecasting to help drinking water treatment plant operators and beach managers minimize health impacts associated with HABs;

·     Increase incentives for farmers in western Lake Erie watersheds to reduce phosphorus runoff that contributes to HABs; and

·     Improve measurement of phosphorus loads in Lake Erie tributaries.


In early August, the City of Toledo issued a "Do Not Drink" order for almost 500,000 people in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan when a drinking water treatment plant was adversely impacted by microcystin, a toxin produced in connection with HAB outbreaks on Lake Erie.  In addition to generating toxins that pose risks to human health, HABs create low oxygen "dead zones" and harm shoreline economies.

On August 13, EPA Regional Administrator, Susan Hedman, convened a meeting of federal and state agencies to identify opportunities for collaboration to minimize HAB-related risks in the western Lake Erie Basin. GLRI funding announced today targets immediate needs identified during that meeting.  The group will continue to focus resources on this issue in FY 2015 and beyond.

McCarthy, who chairs the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, which oversees the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, made the announcement today at the task force meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. GLRI resources are used to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term goals which includes eliminating harmful algal blooms. Under the initial GLRI Action Plan, GLRI resources doubled the acreage enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in the western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Green Bay watersheds where nutrient runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms. Under the new GLRI Action Plan, which covers 2015-2019, projects to reduce nutrient loads from these agricultural watersheds will continue. Watershed management and green infrastructure projects to reduce untreated runoff from urban watersheds will also continue.

Information about the GLRI:



Government Accountability Office, Drinking Water, EPA Program to Protect Underground Sources from Injection of Fluids Associated With Oil and Gas Production Needs Improvement, Report to Congressional Requestors, GAO-14-555, June 2014.

Every day in the United States, at least 2 billion gallons of fluids are injected into over 172,000 wells to enhance oil and gas production, or to dispose of fluids brought to the surface during the extraction of oil and gas resources. These wells are subject to regulation to protect drinking water sources under EPA’s UIC class II program and approved state class II programs. Because much of the population relies on underground sources for drinking water, these wells have raised concerns about the safety of the nation’s drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) role in the Underground Injection Control (UIC) class II program is to oversee and enforce fluid injection into wells associated with oil and gas production, known as class II wells. EPA has approved 39 states to manage their own class II programs, and EPA regions are responsible for managing the programs in remaining states. EPA regions and states use a mix of resources to manage class II programs, including EPA grant funding, state funding, and federal and state personnel. EPA’s UIC grant funding has remained at about $11 million for at least the past 10 years.

EPA is not consistently conducting two key oversight and enforcement activities for class II programs. First, EPA does not consistently conduct annual on-site state program evaluations as directed in guidance because, according to some EPA officials, the agency does not have the resources to do so. The agency has not, however, evaluated its guidance, which dates from the 1980s, to determine which activities are essential for effective oversight. Without such an evaluation, EPA does not know what oversight activities are most effective or necessary. Second, to enforce state class II requirements, under current agency regulations, EPA must approve and incorporate state program requirements and any changes to them into federal regulations through a rulemaking. EPA has not incorporated all such requirements and changes into federal regulations and, as a result, may not be able to enforce all state program requirements. Some EPA officials said that incorporating changes into federal regulations through the rulemaking process is burdensome and time-consuming. EPA has not, however, evaluated alternatives for a more efficient process to approve and incorporate state program requirements and changes into regulations. Without incorporating these requirements and changes into federal regulations, EPA cannot enforce them if a state does not take action or requests EPA’s assistance to take action.

For over 30 years, EPA and states have managed regulatory programs with safeguards that are designed to prevent contamination of underground sources of drinking water from the injection of fluids associated with oil and gas production. As domestic oil and gas production and the demand for underground injection wells continue to increase, EPA faces additional challenges maintaining sufficient oversight and enforcement of these different programs and requirements in a budget-constrained environment. States have been partners with EPA in managing their programs, yet face similar budgetary constraints. To meet its responsibilities to oversee and enforce class II program requirements, it is important that EPA ensures that state programs have information on risks to underground sources of drinking water posed by underground injection, that its oversight and enforcement are focused and efficient, and that it obtains sufficient information to monitor and report on the program nationally.


EESI Issue Brief on Government Climate Change Publications

There has been an outpouring of reports from both domestic and international governmental bodies supporting the existence, causes, and need for action concerning climate change. On this website are summaries of a selected number of these publications. Depending on the authoring body, each report has a varying focus, but they all support the common theme that climate change is happening, its causes are anthropogenic, and planning and action need to begin now to address current and future impacts. It is clear that water resources are closely connected to what happens in climate change, and for that reason the issue brief is important to all water resources specialists.

The issue brief (August 2014) has been prepared by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), and is available at


Tracking the Source and Quantity of Nutrients to the Nation’s Estuaries

New maps and data tables that describe nutrient loading to major estuaries throughout the conterminous U.S. are now available online on the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program web page titled Tracking the Source and Quantity of Nutrients to the Nation's Estuaries. These new web pages describe the major sources and contributing areas of nutrients to 115 estuaries along the Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest coast and from 160 watersheds draining into the Great Lakes.

In addition to the new web pages, water resource managers interested in a particular stream, reservoir, or estuary can use the online, interactive SPARROW model Decision-Support System (DSS) to estimate how reductions in nutrient sources affect downstream nutrient loads at a stream outlet. A new reporting feature within the DSS provides summary information on the amounts and sources of nutrients from upstream states or major hydrologic regions. For instance, output from the new reporting feature shows the amount of nitrogen contributed from each of the 31 states that drain into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin.

This combination of national maps and an online decision support system are provided to improve access to water-quality modeling information that can be used in the development of nutrient reduction strategies and inform nutrient policies across the Nation.  



Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet


Increases in temperature, sea level and CO2 observed; Southern Hemisphere warmth and Super Typhoon Haiyan among year's most notable events



July 17, 2014


In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators--greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.--continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to the indicators assessed in the State of the Climate in 2013 report, released online today by the American Meteorological Society.

State of the Climate in 2013 report available online.

Scientists from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., served as the lead editors of the report, which was compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world (highlights, visuals, full report) It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on air, land, sea and ice.


"These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place," said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. "This report provides the foundational information we need to develop tools and services for communities, business, and nations to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change."

The report uses dozens of climate indicators to track patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system, including greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. These indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. The report also details cases of unusual and extreme regional events, such as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia in November 2013.



  • Greenhouse gases continued to climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2013, once again reaching historic high values. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 2.8 ppm in 2013, reaching a global average of 395.3 ppm for the year. At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the daily concentration of CO2 exceeded 400 ppm on May 9 for the first time since measurements began at the site in 1958. This milestone follows observational sites in the Arctic that observed this CO2 threshold of 400 ppm in spring 2012.
  • Warm temperature trends continued near the Earth's surface: Four major independent datasets show 2013 was among the warmest years on record, ranking between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest.
  • Sea surface temperatures increased: Four independent datasets indicate that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral conditions in the eastern central Pacific Ocean and a negative Pacific decadal oscillation pattern in the North Pacific. The North Pacific was record warm for 2013.
  • Sea level continued to rise: Global mean sea level continued to rise during 2013, on pace with a trend of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year over the past two decades.
  • The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low: The Arctic observed its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 20th century. Record high temperatures were measured at 20-meter depth at permafrost stations in Alaska. Arctic sea ice extent was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. All seven lowest sea ice extents on record have occurred in the past seven years.
  • Antarctic sea ice extent reached record high for second year in a row; South Pole station set record high temperature: The Antarctic maximum sea ice extent reached a record high of 7.56 million square miles on October 1. This is 0.7 percent higher than the previous record high extent of 7.51 million square miles that occurred in 2012 and 8.6 percent higher than the record low maximum sea ice extent of 6.96 million square miles that occurred in 1986. Near the end of the year, the South Pole had its highest annual temperature since records began in 1957.
  • Tropical cyclones near average overall / Historic Super Typhoon: The number of tropical cyclones during 2013 was slightly above average, with a total of 94 storms, in comparison to the 1981-2010 average of 89. The North Atlantic Basin had its quietest season since 1994. However, in the Western North Pacific Basin, Super Typhoon Haiyan - the deadliest cyclone of 2013 - had the highest wind speed ever assigned to a tropical cyclone, with one-minute sustained winds estimated to be 196 miles per hour.

State of the Climate in 2013 is the 24th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The journal makes the full report openly available online.

"State of the Climate is vital to documenting the world's climate," said Keith Seitter, Ph.D., AMS Executive Director. "AMS members in all parts of the world contribute to this NOAA-led effort to give the public a detailed scientific snapshot of what's happening in our world and builds on prior reports we've published."

Reclamation and Partners Release New Hydrologic Projections for Contiguous United States
Using downscaled projections reduces assessment costs and supports risk-based climate adaptation planning

WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Reclamation has released new hydrologic projections that will help local water managers answer questions about future climate, stream flow and water resources. This new scientific data uses the updated World Climate Research Program climate projections that have been scaled to a finer resolution (downscaled) for water management decision support systems. 

"Reclamation is helping water managers prepare for the impacts of climate change with the release of this information, supporting the President's Climate Action Plan," Acting Reclamation Commissioner Lowell Pimley said. "Researchers and planners can use these future climate and hydrology projections to assess societal impacts and explore adaptation options."

The hydrologic data was derived from new downscaled climate projections using the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) data from the World Climate Research Program that was made available by Reclamation and collaborators in May 2013. To develop the new hydrologic projections, the group translated 97 of those downscaled CMIP5 climate projections into fine resolution projections of hydrology for the contiguous United States.

The new hydrology projections are available at Scientists and engineers can use this website to quickly access and download the new information.

The World Climate Research Program develops global climate projections through its CMIP roughly every five to seven years. Results from CMIP3 were released in 2007 and later used in Reclamation research and assessments including the 2011 SECURE Water Act Report and WaterSMART Basin Studies completed in the Colorado, Yakima and St. Mary - Milk River basins.

These new hydrology projections were developed by Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Corporation for Atmospheric Research in collaboration with Climate Analytics Group, Climate Central, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Santa Clara University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and U.S. Geological Survey.

You can learn more about how Reclamation is addressing climate change at


Tortajada, Cecilia, Water Resources: An Evolving Landscape, Chapter 26, 2013.

This chapter presents the history of thinking on water resources and how it has evolved over time. It analyzes paradigms proposed by the international community during the last half century in light of their decisive influence on the content (though not the implementation) of water policies in virtually all developed and developing countries. While paradigms have been an important part of global thinking, at the local level they have represented more of a concept than a reality. This may be why, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, formulation and implementation of efficient policies and management practices benefiting humankind and the environment have still not been achieved.


Gleick, Peter H., Roadmap for Sustainable Water Resources in Southwestern North America, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, 2010. 

The management of water resources in arid and semiarid areas has long been a challenge, from ancient Mesopotamia to the modern southwestern United States. As our understanding of the hydrological and climatological cycles has improved, and our ability to manipulate the hydrologic cycle has increased, so too have the challenges associated with managing a limited natural resource for a growing population. Modern civilization has made remarkable progress in water management in the past few centuries. Burgeoning cities now survive in desert regions, relying on a mix of simple and complex technologies and management systems to bring adequate water and remove wastewater. These systems have permitted agricultural production and urban concentrations to expand in regions previously thought to have inadequate moisture.

However, evidence is also mounting that our current management and use of water is unsustainable. Physical, economic, and ecological limits constrain the development of new supplies and additional water withdrawals, even in regions not previously thought vulnerable to water constraints. New kinds of limits are forcing water managers and policy makers to rethink previous assumptions about population, technology, regional planning, and forms of development. In addition, new threats, especially the challenges posed by climatic changes, are now apparent. Sustainably managing and using water in arid and semiarid regions such as the southwestern United States will require new thinking about water in an interdisciplinary and integrated way. The good news is that a wide range of options suggest a roadmap for sustainable water management and use in the coming decades.


The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities, U.S. Department of Energy, 2014.

Key Messages: 

Energy and water systems are interdependent.

We cannot assume the future is like the past in terms of climate, technology, and the evolving decision landscape. 

Water scarcity, variability, and uncertainty are becoming more prominent, potentially leading to vulnerabilities of the U.S. energy system.

It is time for a more integrated approach to address the challenges and opportunities of the water-energy nexus. 

DOE has strong expertise in technology, modeling, analysis, and data that can contribute to understanding the issues and solutions across the entire nexus.

Collaboration with DOE’s many current and potential partners is crucial.


Hightower, Michael, Reducing Energy’s Water Footprint, Driving a Sustainable Energy Future, in Cornerstone, the Official Journal of the World Coal Industry, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Spring 2014.

Water is an essential natural resource that impacts all aspects of life: Clean and abundant supplies of water are vital for supporting the production of food, public health, industrial and energy development, and a healthy environment. Water is an integral part of energy extraction, production, and generation. It is used directly in hydroelectric power generation and is used extensively for thermoelectric power plant cooling and emissions control. Water is also used for energy resource extraction such as gas shale fracking and development, biofuels production, coal and uranium mining and processing, as well as for oil and natural gas refining and energy resource transportation.

Government Accountability Office, Freshwater: Supply Concerns Continue, and Uncertainties Complicate Planning, Report to Congressional Requestors, GAO-14-430, May 2014.

The nation’s water bodies have long supplied Americans with abundant freshwater, but recent events, such as the ongoing California drought, have focused attention on competing demands for this limited resource. In the United States, the states are primarily responsible for managing freshwater resources, and many federal agencies influence states’ management decisions. In 2003, GAO issued a report providing an overview of trends in freshwater availability and use, as well as states’ views on ways the federal government could assist states to help meet future water management challenges.

GAO was asked to report on changes since 2003. This report examines (1) issues related to freshwater availability and use; (2) expectations for water availability and use over the next 10 years and how these expectations may affect water planning; (3) steps, if any, states have taken to manage freshwater resources; and (4) actions, if any, federal agencies have taken to support management of freshwater availability and use and perspectives from state water managers, experts, and literature on what the federal government can do to enhance its support. GAO conducted a survey of 50 state water managers with a response rate of 100 percent. GAO also reviewed reports and documents from entities, such as federal agencies and environmental organizations, and interviewed federal officials and experts, including environmental and industry officials, to understand freshwater issues across the nation. GAO is not making recommendations


Web site: EnviroAtlas, US Environmental Protection Agency.

What is EnviroAtlas?

EnviroAtlas is a collection of interactive tools and resources that allows users to explore the many benefits people receive from nature, often referred to as ecosystem services. Key components of EnviroAtlas include the following:

EnviroAtlas is a collaborative project developed by EPA, in cooperation with the US Geological Survey (USGS), the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service, and Landscope America. Produced by the collective effort of federal employees, contractors, and non-governmental organizations, EnviroAtlas develops and incorporates data from federal, state, community, and non-governmental organizations.

Melillo, Jerry M., Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, Eds., 2014: Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, 841 pp. doi:10.7930/J0Z31WJ2.



Report Findings

These findings distill important results that arise from this National Climate Assessment. They do not represent a full summary of all of the chapters’ findings, but rather a synthesis of particularly noteworthy conclusions.


1. Global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations. The global warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.

Many independent lines of evidence confirm that human activities are affecting climate in unprecedented ways. U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3°F to 1.9°F since record keeping began in 1895; most of this increase has occurred since about 1970. The most recent decade was the warmest on record. Because human-induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, rising temperatures are not evenly distributed across the country or over time. See page 18.


2. Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and new and stronger evidence confirms that some of these increases are related to human activities.

Changes in extreme weather events are the primary way that most people experience climate change. Human-induced climate change has already increased the number and strength of some of these extreme events. Over the last 50 years, much of the United States has seen an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, and in some regions, more severe droughts. See page 24.


3. Human-induced climate change is projected to continue, and it will accelerate significantly if global emissions of heat-trapping gases continue to increase.

Heat-trapping gases already in the atmosphere have committed us to a hotter future with more climate-related impacts over the next few decades. The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades depends primarily on the amount of heat-trapping gases that human activities emit globally, now and in the future. See page 28.


4. Impacts related to climate change are already evident in many sectors and are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond.

Climate change is already affecting societies and the natural world. Climate change interacts with other environmental and societal factors in ways that can either moderate or intensify these impacts. The types and magnitudes of impacts vary across the nation and through time. Children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor are especially vulnerable. There is mounting evidence that harm to the nation will increase substantially in the future unless global emissions of heat-trapping gases are greatly reduced.24 See page 32.


5. Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including through more extreme weather events and wildfire, decreased air quality, and diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water.

Climate change is increasing the risks of heat stress, respiratory stress from poor air quality, and the spread of waterborne diseases. Extreme weather events often lead to fatalities and a variety of health impacts on vulnerable populations, including impacts on mental health, such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Large-scale changes in the environment due to climate change and extreme weather events are increasing the risk of the emergence or reemergence of health threats that are currently uncommon in the United States, such as dengue fever. See page 34.


6. Infrastructure is being damaged by sea level rise, heavy downpours, and extreme heat; damages are projected to increase with continued climate change.

Sea level rise, storm surge, and heavy downpours, in combination with the pattern of continued development in coastal areas, are increasing damage to U.S. infrastructure including roads, buildings, and industrial facilities, and are also increasing risks to ports and coastal military installations. Flooding along rivers, lakes, and in cities following heavy downpours, prolonged rains, and rapid melting of snowpack is exceeding the limits of flood protection infrastructure designed for historical conditions. Extreme heat is damaging transportation infrastructure such as roads, rail lines, and airport runways. See page 38.


7. Water quality and water supply reliability are jeopardized by climate change in a variety of ways that affect ecosystems and livelihoods.

Surface and groundwater supplies in some regions are already stressed by increasing demand for water as well as declining runoff and groundwater recharge. In some regions, particularly the southern part of the country and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, climate change is increasing the likelihood of water shortages and competition for water among its many uses. Water quality is diminishing in many areas, particularly due to increasing sediment and contaminant concentrations after heavy downpours. See page 42.


8. Climate disruptions to agriculture have been increasing and are projected to become more severe over this century.

Some areas are already experiencing climate-related disruptions, particularly due to extreme weather events. While some U.S. regions and some types of agricultural production will be relatively resilient to climate change over the next 25 years or so, others will increasingly suffer from stresses due to extreme heat, drought, disease, and heavy downpours. From mid-century on, climate change is projected to have more negative impacts on crops and livestock across the country – a trend that could diminish the security of our food supply. See page 46.


9. Climate change poses particular threats to Indigenous Peoples’ health, well-being, and ways of life.

Chronic stresses such as extreme poverty are being exacerbated by climate change impacts such as reduced access to traditional foods, decreased water quality, and increasing exposure to health and safety hazards. In parts of Alaska, Louisiana, the Pacific Islands, and other coastal locations, climate change impacts (through erosion and inundation) are so severe that some communities are already relocating from historical homelands to which their traditions and cultural identities are tied. Particularly in Alaska, the rapid pace of temperature rise, ice and snow melt, and permafrost thaw are significantly affecting critical infrastructure and traditional livelihoods. See page 48.


10. Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being affected by climate change. The capacity of ecosystems to buffer the impacts of extreme events like fires, floods, and severe storms is being overwhelmed.

Climate change impacts on biodiversity are already being observed in alteration of the timing of critical biological events such as spring bud burst and substantial range shifts of many species. In the longer term, there is an increased risk of species extinction. These changes have social, cultural, and economic effects. Events such as droughts, floods, wildfires, and pest outbreaks associated with climate change (for example, bark beetles in the West) are already disrupting ecosystems. These changes limit the capacity of ecosystems, such as forests, barrier beaches, and wetlands, to continue to play important roles in reducing the impacts of these extreme events on infrastructure, human communities, and other valued resources. See page 50.


11. Ocean waters are becoming warmer and more acidic, broadly affecting ocean circulation, chemistry, ecosystems, and marine life.

More acidic waters inhibit the formation of shells, skeletons, and coral reefs. Warmer waters harm coral reefs and alter the distribution, abundance, and productivity of many marine species. The rising temperature and changing chemistry of ocean water combine with other stresses, such as overfishing and coastal and marine pollution, to alter marine-based food production and harm fishing communities. See page 58.


12. Planning for adaptation (to address and prepare for impacts) and mitigation (to reduce future climate change, for example by cutting emissions) is becoming more widespread, but current implementation efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences.

Actions to reduce emissions, increase carbon uptake, adapt to a changing climate, and increase resilience to impacts that are unavoidable can improve public health, economic development, ecosystem protection, and quality of life. See page 62.  


World Resources Institute


Water Stress Magnifies Drought’s Negative Impacts throughout the United States

By Andrew Maddocks, World Resources Institute

Dried-out fields and dwindling reservoirs are becoming all too common across the United States, as companies, farms, and municipalities stagger along under years’ long droughts. Worsening dry conditions now affect two-thirds of Texas. California’s historic drought shows no signs of improvement. Exceptional to moderate drought conditions extend in pockets from Oklahoma north through Minnesota. And inn Colorado, The Denver Post wrote, “comparisons to the Dust Bowl are no longer hyperbole — they're accurate.”

Years of Living Dangerously, a new Showtime series about climate change, turned its lens on how drought devastated the small town of Plainview, Texas in its first episode. Drought drove a Cargill beef-processing plant – Plainview’s largest employer – to close in 2013. More than 2,000 jobs disappeared in a town of 22,000.

In Plainview—and every other drought-stricken place across the United States—a precipitous drop in rainfall is only part of a much broader story. Underlying water stress is one important piece of that complicated puzzle.  When drought strikes where baseline water stress is high, it exacerbates regions’ water woes.


Plainview in Perspective

As drought withered once-rich grazing lands and increased feed prices across Texas, ranchers had to sell their herds to stay in business. The state’s cattle herds are now at their lowest level in half a century, the Showtime episode explained. That meant less business for Cargill.

The company’s now-shuttered Plainview plant sits within the Brazos River basin. The Brazos is the longest river in Texas—and what the show didn’t mention is that the river is also extremely water-stressed.

WRI’s Aqueduct project recently evaluated, mapped, and scored stresses on water supplies in the world’s 100 largest river basins. The Brazos ranked 13th most stressed among the world’s largest rivers. The river’s extremely high stress level means that 80 percent or more of its naturally available surface water supply is already being used by farms, homes, businesses, and energy producers.

All users in the basin, therefore, compete for limited resources. So even in non-drought conditions, Plainview and the surrounding area would have cause for concern. While infrastructure and management interventions—such as water reuse systems—can help improve water access in the area, the fundamental reality is that all users are extremely vulnerable to changes in available supply, such as those that occur during drought.

A National Trend

Plainview’s plight is emblematic of a broad, national trend. Drought and water stress overlap in many regions facing water shortages in the United States. The Aqueduct project shows that 66 percent of California’s irrigated agriculture is exposed to extremely high water stress. Two of the United States’ largest river basins also face extremely high stress – the Colorado and the Rio Grande—which provide water supplies to eight states. More than 30 million people depend on the Colorado alone for water. Both of these rivers rank in the top 18 most-stressed river basins around the world, when analyzed by population.

These risks are projected to increase. Climate change will generally make precipitation more extreme, variable, and unpredictable in the years ahead. Additionally, hotter average temperatures mean drier soil, so farms may face greater risks to their crops, and ranchers to their herds – even if it rains more regularly.


How Can We Ensure a Water-Secure Future?

There is hope, however, for solutions. As the steady stream of national-level coverage and this video series demonstrate, national awareness amongst all stakeholders is starting to build – from individual water users, to politicians and business people, to celebrities like Don Cheadle, who hosted the Plainview story.

That attention can only help further some of the approaches that aim to bring water demand more in line with available supply for agriculture, industry, and municipalities. Some companies are starting to realize that water risks pose serious implications for their bottom lines. Cargill, for example, now participates in the CDP’s water-risk disclosure program. Tools like CDP’s survey are essential as more and more investors seek water-risk information and companies take water risk evaluation and mitigation more seriously. California is among the states leading the way in researching demand-reduction strategies. And in Australia, another notorious drought hot spot, government has invested heavily in water efficiency and created an innovative water-rights trading system to cap overall demand and preserve water for the surrounding environment.

Wherever drought and water stress overlap, reducing water use is an essential step toward long-term economic, social, and political stability. We’re starting to figure out solutions to the world’s water woes—but truly creating a water-secure future will require more information, research, and innovation.

For more information visit:


Website: National Water Research Institute, NWRI Drought Resources, 2014.

This website includes many sources of drought information from the National Water Research Institute (NWRI). Papers and conference materials are covered, such as Los Angeles’ Water Reliability 2025, and a presentation on The Effects of Climate Change and Energy Development on Water Resources, by Jerry Schnoor (U. of Iowa).

Lectures, publications, and workshops are also included, with links to each.


Carter, Nicole T., Energy-Water Nexus: The Energy Sector’s Water Use, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, R43199, 2013.

Water and energy are critical resources that are reciprocally linked; this interdependence is often described as the water-energy nexus. Meeting energy-sector water needs, which are often large, depends upon the local availability of water for fuel production, hydropower generation, and thermoelectric power plant cooling. The U.S. energy sector’s use of water is significant in terms of water withdrawals and water consumption. In 2005, thermoelectric cooling represented 41% of water withdrawn nationally, and 6% of water consumed nationally. The majority of the anticipated increase in water consumption by 2030 is attributed to domestic biofuel and oil and gas production. Policy makers at the federal, state, and local levels are faced with deciding whether to respond to the growing water needs of the energy sector, and if so, which policy levers to use (e.g., tax incentives, loan guarantees, permits, regulations, planning, or education). Many U.S. energy sector water decisions are made by private entities, and state entities have the majority of the authority over water use and allocation policies and decisions.

Conventional hydropower accounts for approximately 8% of total U.S. net electricity generation, and more than 80% of U.S. electricity is generated at thermoelectric facilities that depend on cooling water. Water availability issues, such as regional drought, low flow, or intense competition for water can curtail hydroelectric and thermoelectric generation. An assessment of the drought vulnerability of electricity in the western United States found broad resiliency, while also identifying the Pacific Northwest and the Texas grid at higher risk. Future withdrawals associated with electric generation may grow slightly, remain steady, or decline depending on a number of factors. These include reduced generation from facilities using once-through cooling because of compliance with proposed federal cooling water intake regulations or shifts in how electricity is generated (e.g., less from coal and more from wind and natural gas).

Energy choices represent complex tradeoffs; water use and wastewater byproducts are two of many factors to consider when making energy choices. For many policymakers, concerns other than water.—low-cost reliable energy, energy independence and security, climate change mitigation, public health, and job creation.—are more significant drivers of their positions on energy policies.


Copeland, Claudia, Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, R43200, 2013. 

Water and energy are resources that are reciprocally and mutually linked, because meeting energy needs requires water, often in large quantities, for mining, fuel production, hydropower, and power plant cooling, and energy is needed for pumping, treatment, and distribution of water and for collection, treatment, and discharge of wastewater. This interrelationship is often referred to as the energy-water nexus, or the water-energy nexus. There is growing recognition that .“saving water saves energy..” Energy efficiency initiatives offer opportunities for delivering significant water savings, and likewise, water efficiency initiatives offer opportunities for delivering significant energy savings. In addition, saving water also reduces carbon emissions by saving energy otherwise generated to move and treat water.

This report provides background on energy for facilities that treat and deliver water to end users and also dispose of and discharge wastewater. Energy use for water is a function of many variables, including water source (surface water pumping typically requires less energy than groundwater pumping), treatment (high ambient quality raw water requires less treatment than brackish or seawater), intended end-use, distribution (water pumped long distances requires more energy), amount of water loss in the system through leakage and evaporation, and level of wastewater treatment (stringency of water quality regulations to meet discharge standards). Likewise, the intensity of energy use of water, which is the relative amount of energy needed for a task such as pumping water, varies depending on characteristics such as topography (affecting groundwater recharge), climate, seasonal temperature, and rainfall. Most of the energy used for water-related purposes is in the form of electricity. Estimates of water-related energy use range from 4% to perhaps 13% of the nation’s electricity generation, but regional differences can be significant. In California, for example, as much as 19% of the state’s electricity consumption is for pumping, treating, collecting and discharging water and wastewater.

Topics for research to better understand water-related energy use include studies of energy demands for water at local, regional, and national scales; development of consistent data collection methodology to track water and energy data across all sectors; development and implementation of advanced technologies that save energy and water; and analysis of incentives, disincentives, and lack of incentives to investing in cost-effective energy or water efficiency measures.


McCornick, P.; Smakhtin, V.; Bharati, L.; Johnston, R.; McCartney, M.; Sugden, F.; Clement, F.; McIntyre, B. 2013. Tackling change: Future-proofing water, agriculture, and food security in an era of climate uncertainty. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

In 1950 the global population was just over 2.5 billion. Now, in 2013, it is around 7 billion. Although population growth is slowing, the world is projected to have around 9.6 billion inhabitants by 2050. Most of the population increase will be in developing countries where food is often scarce, and land and water are under pressure. To feed the global population in 2050 the world will have to produce more food without significantly expanding the area of cultivated land and, because of competition between a greater number of water users, with less freshwater. On top of land and water constraints, food producers face climatic and other changes which will affect food production.

There remains great uncertainty as to how climate change will affect any given locality, but it seems likely that it will have a profound effect on water resources. Projected rises in average temperature, more extreme temperatures, and changes in precipitation patterns are likely to alter the amounts and distribution of rainfall, ice and snow melt, soil moisture, and river and groundwater flows.


Climate Change, Energy Infrastructure Risks and Adaptation Efforts, Report to Congressional Requestors, Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-74, 2014.

GAO was asked to examine the vulnerability of the nation’s energy infrastructure to climate change impacts. This report examines: (1) what is known about potential impacts of climate change on U.S. energy infrastructure; (2) measures that can reduce climate-related risks and adapt energy infrastructure to climate change; and (3) the role of the federal government in adapting energy infrastructure and adaptation steps selected federal entities have taken. GAO reviewed climate change assessments; analyzed relevant studies and agency documents; and interviewed federal agency officials and industry stakeholders, including energy companies at four sites that have implemented adaptive measures.


Dörendahl, Esther I. (2013): Boundary work and water resources: Towards improved management and research practice?, ZEF Working Paper Series, No. 122

This paper explores the potential of ‘boundary work’ perspectives for enhancing current approaches in water resources management and research with a focus on developing countries. Boundary work thinking is analyzed in the context of three currently leading approaches for water and natural resources management, i.e. Integrated Water Resources Management, Adaptive Management, and the Ecosystem Approach. Given the political dimension of water resources management, questions of governance are merged into the boundary work perspective. The paper introduces the Boundary Work framework as developed by Mollinga, discusses the potential of the framework for enhancing water resources management and research practice and proposes amendments to the framework.


G. Pegram, Y. Li, T. Le. Quesne, R. Speed, J. Li, and F. Shen. 2013. River basin planning: Principles, procedures and approaches for strategic basin planning. Paris, UNESCO.

Water provides the lifeblood of natural systems, societies and economies. People have lived near and on rivers, lakes, wetlands and deltas for many centuries. Rivers provide a multitude of services such as water supply, waste assimilation, fisheries, energy production, flood attenuation, spiritual, cultural and recreational benefits, and the habitat that supports a wide range of ecosystems.

It is precisely because water resources provide so many functions that planning for their use is so complex. The demands on rivers increasingly exceed their natural capabilities, resulting in over abstraction, pollution, alien infestation, floodplain alteration and habitat destruction. These failures are usually the consequence of poor decision-making, inadequate management and inappropriate planning. Effective basin planning is the starting point for sustainable management of river basins.

The practice of basin planning has developed over time in response to the changing demands placed on river systems by societies, and the changing conditions of rivers. The first attempt to manage the hydrological cycle in a coherent way was undertaken in China about two millennia ago. The concept of the river basin as a unit of management became more widely established in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was the massive water resources infrastructure development that took place across the world between 1920 and 1970 that ushered in a phase of ‘water resources development planning’. At the core of these initiatives was the view that river basin planning is primarily a technical activity that can be undertaken by engineers, with the objective of optimizing the benefits derived from infrastructure development and operation.

During the 1970s and 1980s it became evident that engineering solutions were no longer adequate to address the multifaceted problems of management, particularly the trade-offs between competing interests and values. The development of new approaches was influenced by a number of emerging trends in the water and environmental sectors:

The exhaustion of options for technical, engineering solutions to problems. For example, it was no longer possible to construct new infrastructure to meet growing demand for water.

The recognition of the importance of functioning aquatic ecosystems, and the rapid global decline in the health of freshwater ecosystems.

The increasing costs associated with water supply and waste management.

A desire for more decentralized management and greater stakeholder engagement.

These trends led to new approaches to water resources management and basin planning. These approaches were first articulated in the 1990s in the concept of integrated water resources management (IWRM). Many countries have since embarked on policy and law reforms, in most cases embracing the suite of approaches typically associated with IWRM, including basin planning. While enabling important progress, these reforms have highlighted some of the limitations of IWRM. These have included recognition of the approaches to planning in the context of limited information and imperfect institutions, the ongoing importance of infrastructure, the development of approaches to basin-scale environmental management, and decision-making in societies undergoing rapid economic and social change. In this context, more strategic approaches to basin planning and management are developing, building on the lessons from implementation in recent decades.


Perez, Michelle, and Sara Walker. 2014. Improving Water Quality: A Review of the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) To Target U.S. Farm Conservation Funds. Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.

Historically, federal conservation programs have focused on solving environmental and natural resource problems on individual farms. While improvements have been made in water quality and wildlife habitat at the farm scale, landscape-scale environmental benefits in streams, lakes, and bays, for example, are less commonly documented. Excess nutrients (nitrogen, N, and phosphorus, P) con­tinue to impair thousands of waterways, and eutrophica­tion leads to hypoxia (low oxygen levels that harm aquatic life) or dead zones in water bodies around the country. This report focuses on the Mississippi River Basin.


Evaluating Thermoelectric, Agricultural, and Municipal Water Consumption in a National Water Resources Framework. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: 2013. 3002001154. Enter the report number 3002001154 in the search box. 

More than a decade ago, EPRI identified water availability constraints as a major issue facing current operations and future development of the electric power sector in the United States and internationally. As a result, EPRI initiated research to assess and reduce both current and future vulnerabilities to water shortages. This report derives and applies algorithms for calculating water consumption by the U.S. electric power, municipal, and agricultural sectors. Using the most recent available national data sets, a national water consumption budget is calculated based on the spatial resolution of U.S. counties as well as United States Geological Survey (USGS) medium-sized watersheds.


Web Site: Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises, Climate Change at the National Academies, 2014.

Both abrupt changes in the physical climate system and steady changes in climate that can trigger abrupt changes in other physical, biological, and human systems present possible threats to nature and society. Abrupt change is already underway in some systems, and large scientific uncertainties about the likelihood of other abrupt changes highlight the need for further research. However, with recent advances in understanding of the climate system, some potential abrupt changes once thought to be imminent threats are now considered unlikely to occur this century. This report summarizes the current state of knowledge on potential abrupt changes to the ocean, atmosphere, ecosystems, and high latitude areas, and identifies key research and monitoring needs. The report calls for action to develop an abrupt change early warning system to help anticipate future abrupt changes and reduce their impacts.


Web Site: EPA Releases Climate Assessment Update to National Stormwater Calculator, Water Research Update, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2014.

On January 30th, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced phase II of the National Stormwater Calculator Climate Assessment Tool. The tool provides decision-makers with an easy-to-use, customizable resource to identify and incorporate green infrastructure and low impact development techniques to reduce storm water runoff. The updated tool includes changes in seasonal precipitation levels;  the effects of more frequent, high-intensity storms; and changes in evaporation rates based on climate change scenarios validated by the Intergovernmental  Panel on Climate Change. The Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package was originally mentioned as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan. The announcement was made during a keynote speech at the 14thNational Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment.   


Ekness, Paul A., Ecohydrologic Impacts of Climate and Land Use Changes on Watershed Systems: A Multi-Scale Assessment for Policy (2013). Open Access Dissertations. Paper 789.

Maintaining flows and quality of water resources is critical to support ecosystem services and consumptive needs. Understanding impacts of changes in climate and land use on ecohydrologic processes in a watershed is vital to sustaining water resources for multiple uses. This study completes a continental and regional scale assessment using statistical and simulation modeling to investigate ecohydrologic impacts within watershed systems.

Watersheds across the continental United States have diverse hydrogeomorphic characters, mean temperatures, soil moistures, precipitation and evaporation patterns that influence runoff processes. Changes in climate affect runoff by impacting available soil moisture, evaporation, precipitation and vegetative patterns.

Continental scale runoff is affected by soil moisture and vegetative cover. Cover crops, low tillage farm practices and natural vegetation contribute to less runoff. Developing policies that encourage protection of soil structure could minimize runoff and aid in maintaining sustainable water resources. Best Management Practices and Low impact development at the national level with continued stormwater legislation directed towards sustainable land use policy will improve water quantity and quality.

AWRA at 50: The Future of Water Resources in the United States, Water Resources Impact, American Water Resources Association, Jan. 2014.

Download your free copy of the January 2014 Water Resources IMPACT today!

With the topic of The Future of Water Resources in the United States and 18 articles on topics ranging from water law and pricing to floods, drought management and agriculture, and authors such as Gerald Galloway, Debra Knopman, Ben Grumbles and Brenda Bateman, this is already being called one of Water Resources IMPACT's best issues ever.


Climate Change: Federal Efforts Underway to Assess Water Infrastructure Vulnerabilities and Address Adaptation Challenges, Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-23, Nov. 2013.

The effects of climate change on water resources have already been observed and are expected to continue. The Corps and Reclamation own and operate key water resource management infrastructure, such as dams and reservoirs. Adaptation—adjustments in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment that exploits beneficial opportunities or moderates negative effects—can be used to help manage the risks to vulnerable resources. In 2009, a law—commonly referred to as the SECURE Water Act—and a presidential executive order directed federal agencies to address the potential impacts of climate change.


Clean Water Act: Changes Needed If Key EPA Program Is to Help Fulfill the Nation’s Water Quality Goals, Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-80, Dec. 2013.

GAO was asked to examine the TMDL program, specifically (1) EPA’s and states’ responsibilities in developing and implementing TMDLs, (2) what is known about the status of long-established TMDLs, (3) the extent to which such TMDLs contain features key to attaining water quality standards, and (4) the extent to which TMDLs exhibit factors that facilitate effective implementation. GAO asked water resource experts to review a random sample of 25 long-established TMDLs and surveyed state officials who are responsible for implementing a representative sample of 191 long-established TMDLs.


Web Site: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Global Analysis—Annual 2013, National Climatic Data Center, Released 2014.

The year 2013 ties with 2003 as the fourth warmest year globally since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). This marks the 37th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Currently, the warmest year on record is 2010, which was 0.66°C (1.19°F) above average. Including 2013, 9 of the 10 warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century. Only one year during the 20th century—1998—was warmer than 2013. 

The web site includes global and US data, and covers among other things the state of the climate, temperature, precipitation, drought, extremes, societal impacts, snow and ice, and references.

FACT SHEET: Climate Adaptation at the Federal Level, by Rachel Hampton and John-Michael Cross, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Jan. 2014.

Climate change adaptation is a risk-management strategy characterized by adjustments to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change. Climate adaptation (or resiliency) efforts can vary widely based on the needs of a region, but they commonly include better climate information and decision-making tools, new building and infrastructure standards, and infrastructure modifications that improve resiliency to storm water or extreme temperatures.

Due to concerns over national climate vulnerability and unavoidable increases in climate risk in the coming decades, policymakers have expanded their focus beyond climate mitigation to include resiliency efforts. Many efforts are ongoing at the state and local level. Although progress by the federal government has lagged, strides have been made in the last few years. Action at the federal level can serve to provide guidelines and resources to states and cities, promote collaboration, and improve financing availability. This fact sheet explores federal climate resiliency efforts, the majority of which are in progress.


Year 2013

Hightower, Mike, Danny Reible, and Michael Webber, Workshop Report: Developing a Research Agenda for the Energy-Water Nexus, Sandia National Laboratory, Texas Tech University, and University of Texas, for the National Science Foundation, 2013. 

The energy-water nexus has attracted public scrutiny because of the concerns about their interdependence and the possibility for cascading vulnerabilities from one system to the other. There are trends toward more water intensive energy, (such as biofuels, unconventional oil and gas production, and regulations driving more water consumption for thermoelectric power production) and more energy intensive water (such as desalination, or deeper ground water pumping and production). To address these and other concerns, the National Science Foundation sponsored a workshop in June 2013 to bring together technical, academic, and industry experts from across the country to help develop a research agenda. The results of the workshop are presented in this report, which includes the highest priority research directions identified, plus supporting materials.

Website: Aqueduct Country and River Basin Rankings, World Resources Institute, 2013.

This dataset shows countries and river basins' average exposure to five of Aqueduct's water risk indicators: baseline water stress, interannual variability, seasonal variability, flood occurrence, and drought severity. Risk exposure scores are available for every country (except Greenland and Antarctica), the 100 most populous river basins, and the 100 largest river basins by area.

Scores are also avaialble for all industrial, agricultural, and domestic users' average exposure to each indicator in each country and river basin.


The California Water Plan has been under development for some years. The most recent effort was in 2013, with collaborative work of the University of California at Davis, the California Department of Water Resources, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A good deal of the plan relies on the use of indicators and analyses of water sustainability. See the following link for more information:

In addition, the 2013 report can be found as follows:

Shilling, Fraser, The California Water Sustainability Indicators Framework: Draft Final Report, University of California, Davis, 2013.

The Water Sustainability Indicators Framework grew out of regional projects developing indicators for water and watershed condition. The California Water Plan Update 2013 team decided to incorporate sustainability indicators into the Update in response to recommendations from the 2009 Update advisory process. This report describes the work completed in two phases by the UC Davis team between 2011 and 2013. The first phase (henceforth Phase I) involved developing an analytical framework and approach (henceforth Framework) for developing and evaluating indicators. The second phase (henceforth Phase II) involved pilot testing the Framework at the state and regional scales and development of a web-based reporting and decision-support tool. The report is divided among these two phases, with the intent that the bulk of the report would be included in the California Water Plan Update 2013, Volume IV – Technical Appendices.

The Phase I report describes the progressive development and use of sustainability indicators from vision and goal setting to reporting and knowledge-building. It describes the disaggregation of goals into measurable objectives in the presence of tribe, stakeholder, and agency contributions, and the identification of indicators corresponding to the goals and objectives. It describes the use of a novel method for measuring sustainability performance that involves comparing condition to defined desired and undesired targets. The scores that result from the comparison can be reported at various scales, depending on the fineness and extent of the data. Finally, the Framework describes reporting conditions and trends in various formats, including a report card in narrative, tabular, and/or map form.

The Phase II report describes the testing of the Framework at the state scale and the region scale. The statewide reporting is primarily at the Hydrologic Region (HR) scale, with additional reporting at finer scales where possible, based on the US Geological Survey’s Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) system for watershed classification. The Santa Ana Watershed Protection Authority (SAWPA) region was chosen after consideration of multiple candidate regions because of complexity of the region, availability of a stakeholder process, and capacity of SAWPA to partner with the UC Davis team. The Council for Watershed Health assisted with this regional project, under contract with SAWPA.


U.S. EPA. Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST) v1: User Manual and Case Study Examples. US EPA Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-13/174, 2013.

The Watershed Management Optimization Support Tool (WMOST) is intended to be used as a screening tool as part of an integrated watershed management process such as that described in EPA’s watershed planning handbook (EPA 2008).1 The objective of WMOST is to serve as a public-domain, efficient, and user-friendly tool for local water resources managers and planners to screen a wide-range of potential water resources management options across their watershed or jurisdiction for cost-effectiveness as well as environmental and economic sustainability (Zoltay et al 2010). 

Examples of options that could be evaluated with the tool include projects related to stormwater, water supply, wastewater and water-related resources such as Low-Impact Development (LID) and land conservation. The tool is intended to aid in evaluating the environmental and economic costs, benefits, trade-offs and co-benefits of various management options. In addition, the tool is intended to facilitate the evaluation of low impact development (LID) and green infrastructure as alternative or complementary management options in projects proposed for State Revolving Funds (SRF).

WMOST is a screening model that is spatially lumped with a daily or monthly time step. The model considers water flows but does not yet consider water quality. The optimization of management options is solved using linear programming. The target user group for WMOST consists of local water resources managers, including municipal water works superintendents and their consultants. This document includes a user guide and presentation of two case studies as examples of how to apply WMOST. Theoretical documentation is provided in a separate report (EPA/600/R-13/151).


U.S. EPA. BASINS (Better Assessment Science Integrating Point & Non-Point Sources), EPA Web Site, 2013. 

Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) is a multipurpose environmental analysis system designed to help regional, state, and local agencies perform watershed- and water quality-based studies.

It was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist in watershed management and TMDL development by integrating environmental data, analysis tools, and watershed and water quality models.

A geographic information system (GIS) provides the integrating framework for BASINS. GIS organizes spatial information so it can be displayed as maps, tables, or graphics. GIS allows the user to analyze landscape information and display relationships among data. Through the use of GIS, BASINS has the flexibility to display and integrate a wide range of information (e.g., land use, point source discharges, and water supply withdrawals) at a scale chosen by the user.


Bosshaq, M.R., et al, Measuring Indicators and Determining Factors Affecting Sustainable Agricultural Development in Rural Areas – A Case Study of Ravansar, Iran, International Journal of AgriScience, Vol. 2(6): 550-557, 2012.

In many developing countries continuous economic growth depends on rural regeneration by means of socio-political development. It is therefore crucial to ensure sustainability in the agricultural sector in terms of levels of production and local employment in those countries that depend on food and fiber production. This paper aims to evaluate sustainability indicators in the Ravansar area and Iran in general. 

The methodology used in this study was by collection of primary data and field observations. Data interpretation was done with a descriptive statistical method. Samples for statistics were taken from heads of rural households in Ravansar villages. Subjects were randomly selected for inclusion in samples and the questionnaire was evaluated by use of Cochran's formula. The sample consisted of 188 cases. The Cronbach alpha coefficient was used to make calculations that determined the reliability of questionnaires, for which there three parts with evaluation percentages of 0.72, 0.73, 0.79.

Results showed that 38.70 percent of indicators were in the unstable group, 22.58 percent in the somewhat stable group and 38.70 percent were in the stable group. Results of the regression analysis based on the stepwise method showed that the four variables of education level, household income, average land size, and total land ownership had a 56% influence on agricultural sustainability of the Ravansar rural region.


Alley, W.M., Evenson, E.J., Barber, N.L., Bruce, B.W., Dennehy, K.F., Freeman, M.C., Freeman, W.O., Fischer, J.M., Hughes, W.B., Kennen, J.G., Kiang, J.E., Maloney, K.O., Musgrove, MaryLynn, Ralston, Barbara, Tessler, Steven, and Verdin, J.P., 2013, Progress toward establishing a national assessment of water availability and use: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1384, 34 p.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11) was passed into law on March 30, 2009. Sub­title F, also known as the SECURE Water Act, calls for the establishment of a “national water availability and use assessment program” within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A major driver for this recommendation was that national water availabil­ity and use have not been comprehensively assessed since 1978.

This report fulfills a requirement to report to Congress on progress in implementing the national water availability and use assessment program, also referred to as the National Water Census. The SECURE Water Act authorized $20 million for each of fiscal years (FY) 2009 through 2023 for assessment of national water availability and use. The first appropriation for this effort was $4 million in FY 2011, followed by an appropriation of $6 million in FY 2012.

The National Water Census synthesizes and reports information at the regional and national scales, with an emphasis on compiling and reporting the information in a way that is useful to states and others responsible for water management and natural-resource issues. The USGS works with Federal and non-Federal agencies, universities, and other organizations to ensure that the information can be aggregated with other types of water-availability and socioeconomic information, such as data on food and energy production. To maximize the utility of the information, the USGS coordinates the design and development of the effort through the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information.

A National Water Census is a complex undertaking, particularly because there are major gaps in the information needed to conduct such an assessment. To maximize progress, the USGS engaged stakeholders in a discussion of priorities and leveraged existing studies and program activities to enhance efforts toward the development of a National Water Census.


Harich, Jack and Philip Bangerter, Finding True North at the U.S. EPA With Root Cause Analysis, Australian Centre for Sustainable Business & Development, University of Southern Queensland, 2013.

In 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) underwent a fundamental change in mission by “recognition that the goal of sustainability is our ‘true north.’ ” Subsequently in 2011, at the EPA’s request, the National Research Council completed a study known as the “Green Book.” Its purpose was to “provide an operational framework for integrating sustainability as one of the key drivers within the regulatory responsibilities of EPA.” The book describes the framework and recommends that the “EPA should adopt or adapt the comprehensive Sustainability Framework proposed in Figure S-1.”

This paper analyzes the Sustainability Framework and concludes that as presently designed it is not capable of achieving its stated goal. The steps and tools described in the Green Book are for solution “assessment and management.” Assessment is inspection, so this is an inspection driven process. It will tend to drive research toward the same class of popular solutions that for over forty years has failed to solve the sustainability problem because popular solutions do not resolve root causes. Furthermore, as this paper explains, you cannot inspect quality in. You can only build it into the product in the first place. 

To fix these flaws and allow the EPA to “adapt” the Green Book framework so that it has a high probability of success, this paper presents the Quality Driven Framework. This framework, as well as most of the main points in this paper, has broad applicability to any environmental agency, not just the U.S. EPA.


FUTURE CONFERENCE: Shale Development and Hydraulic Fracturing, Capturing Unconventional Opportunities, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, San Diego, March 17-19, 2014.


Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), Report to Congressional Requestors, Government Accountability Office, GAO-13-797, Sept. 2013.

Approximately $1.3 billion has been appropriated to the GLRI, created in fiscal year 2010, which an interagency Task Force of 11 federal agencies, chaired by the EPA Administrator, oversees. In 2010, the Task Force issued an Action Plan for fiscal years 2010 to 2014 to develop a comprehensive approach to restoring the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem. GAO was asked to review the GLRI. This report examines (1) how the GLRI is implemented by the Task Force agencies and other stakeholders, (2) the methods that EPA has in place to assess GLRI progress, (3) the progress identified by the Task Force agencies and nonfederal stakeholders, and (4) the views of nonfederal stakeholders on factors, if any, that may affect or limit GLRI progress. GAO analyzed the Action Plan, surveyed 205 non-federal recipients of GLRI funding, and interviewed Task Force agency officials and nonfederal stakeholders.


Richter, Brian D., et al, Tapped Out: How Can Cities Secure Their Water Future? Water Policy 15, 335-363, International Water Association, 2013.

Cities around the world are struggling to access additional water supplies to support their continued growth because their freshwater sources are becoming exhausted. Half of all cities with populations greater than 100,000 are located in water-scarce basins, and in these basins agricultural water consumption accounts for more than 90% of all freshwater depletions. In this paper we review the water development histories of four major cities: Adelaide, Phoenix, San Antonio and San Diego. We identify a similar pattern of water development in these cities, which begins with the exhaustion of local surface and groundwater supplies, continues with importation of water from other basins, and then turns to recycling of wastewater or storm water, or desalination of either seawater or brackish groundwater. Demand management through water conservation has mitigated, to varying degrees, the timing of water-system expansions and the extent to which cities rely on new sources of supply. This typical water development pattern in cities is undesirable from a sustainability perspective, as it is usually associated with serious ecological and social impacts as well as sub-optimal cost effectiveness. We highlight case examples and opportunities to invest in water conservation measures, particularly through urban–rural partnerships under which cities work with farmers to implement irrigation conservation measures, thereby freeing up water for ecological restoration and use by cities.


Bhatti, Asif M., et al, Water Resources Management: Pathways for Sustainable Economic Growth and Poverty Eradication, Society for Social Management Systems, 2012.

Water is essential not only for sustaining quality of life on the earth, but also for economic growth and poverty eradication. Due to rapid increase in population, the demand for water will increase over time. The nations that are well endowed in fresh water resources have an economic advantage over those less fortunate. Water resources management is a cost effective strategy; contributing to the economic prosperity and poverty reduction through several pathways, while strengthening systems and capacity for longer-term climate risk management. The access to safe and adequate water improves health, fulfills multiple needs of households, contribute to food and fiber production and poverty elimination. The prime purpose of the present paper is to enhance the understanding of the factors that influence water demand by deeply examining the water use in domestic, agricultural and industrial sectors in Pakistan. The driving forces and key issues, related to socio-economic development, that influence the future water availability and demand are also examined. Pakistan is a country that is facing a water crisis not because of physical scarcities of the resources, but because of lack of knowledge, experience, technology and co-ordination among different institutions. The empirical evidence shows that better management coupled with effective policy, intensified political will, appropriate investments, awareness, climatic change adoption and institutional strengthening are promising pathways for sustainable water resources management. In order to meet the water demand for environment, economic and people’s life, there is scope for significant improvement in the efficiency of water utilization, which if achieved should enhance the overall sustainability.


The Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy, Office of Water, Environmental Protection Agency, Nov. 2013.

EPA is releasing a Synthesis Report on the Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy. This report is intended to help raise the awareness of water’s importance to our national economic welfare, and to summarize information that public and private decision-makers can use to better manage the nation’s water resources. It highlights EPA’s review of the literature and practice on the importance of water to the U.S. economy, identifies key data gaps, and describes the implication of the study’s findings for future research. EPA hopes this report will be a catalyst for a broader discussion about water’s critical role in the U.S. economy.


Herrick, Charles N. and Joanna L. Pratt, Communication and the Narrative Basis of Sustainability: Observations from the Municipal Water Sector, Sustainability 2013, 5, 4428-4443, Oct. 2013.

Numerous studies attempt to operationalize sustainability and seek to characterize objective, or at least standardized, metrics of sustainable conditions and/or operations. In this paper, we suggest that sustainability is better viewed as an emergent quality, defined in terms of specific institutions and situations. Observations from the water sector suggest that sustainability is not merely a matter of ―bolting on technologies‖, but a complex synthesis of institutional factors, social value perspectives, technologies and engineered artifacts, and natural or environmental conditions.

Although physio-chemical properties, ecological processes and thresholds, and technological factors must inform deliberations, we suggest that the realization of sustainability is at base a narrative enterprise. Observations articulated in this essay were derived through an ensemble research approach including a targeted literature review, a three-phase survey of 18 U.S. water utilities, and a workshop with water sector professionals, regulators, and experts in sustainability and organizational change.


Koundouri, Phoebe and Osiel Gonzalez Davila, The Use of Ecosystem Services Approach in Guiding Water Valuation and Management: Inland and Coastal Waters, Dept. of International and European Economic Studies, Athens University of Economics and Business, Oct. 2013.

In this chapter we develop an interdisciplinary methodology for identifying water-related ecosystem functions into ecosystem services for humans, which are then monetarily evaluated using market and non-market valuation methods. We then apply this methodology to selected case studies on inland and coastal waters and show how these results facilitate the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.


Pasi, Nidhi and Richard Smardon, Inter-Linking of Rivers: A Solution for Water Crisis in India or a Decision in Doubt, J. of Science Policy and Governance, Vol. 2, Issue 1.

The acute spatial and temporal variations in precipitation patterns have greatly influenced water resources planning, management, and development in India. Specifically, these patterns have led to the development of several water transfer projects in the country. The Inter-Linking of Rivers (ILR) project is a grand example of such a water transfer project. In this paper, we will discuss major justifications and challenges to the implementation of the ILR project and discuss potential alternative policy recommendations for water resources management and planning in India.

Regional water transfer is an attempt to redistribute water from “surplus” to “deficit” zones within India. The ILR project in India envisions linking 37 rivers of 20 major basins in the country through 31 links and canals. The project has been promoted as a solution to the ‘paradox of floods and drought’ in India and will also provide water for irrigation and power generation. However, several issues have been raised and debated on the basis of technical feasibility, environmental, social, ethical, institutional, financial, and political criteria, which question the very rationale, viability and decision-making process of the project. These concerns make it difficult to determine when water transfer can be justified as desirable.

The recommendations put forward the need for a fundamental change in thinking and attitude towards water resources management in India. The policy recommendations encompass both the science and politics of water resources management and planning. The recommendations present the need for a bottom-up, participatory, decentralized, and interdisciplinary approach to water management. Special emphasis is on understanding demands and justified water needs at the local level; priority to localized and traditional solutions; efficiency improvements in agricultural and irrigation systems; pricing of irrigation water use; education outreach; and an increased research focus on the different facets of Indian River systems.

Fiksel, Joseph, et al, A Framework for Sustainability Indicators at EPA, EPA/600/R/12/687, Oct. 2012,

Table of Contents

1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 1

1.1. Purpose .............................................................................................................................................. 1

1.2. The Role of Sustainability Indicators at EPA ...................................................................................... 2

1.3. Origin of this Document.....................................................................................................................4

2. Conceptual Foundations ....................................................................................................................... 4

2.1. Definitions of Sustainability ............................................................................................................... 4

2.2. Sustainability Indicator Frameworks.................................................................................................. 6

3. Classification of Sustainability Indicators.................................................................................................. 8

3.1 Three “Pillars” of Sustainability .................................................................................................... 8

3.2 Report on the Environment Topics.....................................................................................................9

3.3. ORD National Programs ..................................................................................................................... 9

3.4. System-Based Indicators.................................................................................................................... 9

4. Global Inventory of Sustainability Indicators..........................................................................................12

4.1. Motivation........................................................................................................................................12

4.2 Survey Results and Database Development.....................................................................................13

4.3. Searching, Sorting and Filtering in the Database.............................................................................14

4.4. Future work......................................................................................................................................16

5. Selecting Sustainability Indicators ..........................................................................................................18

5.1. Indicators for National Reporting ....................................................................................................18

5.2. Indicators for Focused Investigation................................................................................................20

5.3. Integrated Indicator: Index..............................................................................................................22

6. Implementing the Use of Sustainability Indicators.............................................................................23

7. Conclusions .............................................................................................................................................26

U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). (2013) Watershed modeling to assess the sensitivity of streamflow, nutrient, and sediment loads to potential climate change and urban development in 20 U.S. watersheds. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC; EPA/600/R-12/058F. Available from the National Technical Information Service, Alexandria, VA, and online at

Watershed modeling was conducted in 20 large, U.S. watersheds to characterize the sensitivity of streamflow, nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus), and sediment loading to a range of plausible mid-21st century climate change and urban development scenarios. The study also provides an improved understanding of methodological challenges associated with integrating existing tools (e.g., climate models, downscaling approaches, and watershed models) and data sets to address these scientific questions. The study uses a scenario-analysis approach with a consistent set of watershed models and scenarios applied to multiple locations throughout the nation. Study areas were selected to represent a range of geographic, hydrologic, and climatic characteristics. Watershed simulations were conducted using the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and Hydrologic Simulation Program―FORTRAN (HSPF) models. Scenarios of future climate change were developed based on statistically and dynamically downscaled climate model simulations representative of the period 2041−2070. Scenarios of urban and residential development for this same period were developed from the EPA’s Integrated Climate and Land Use Scenarios (ICLUS) project. Future changes in agriculture and human use and management of water were not evaluated.

Results provide an improved understanding of the complex and context-dependent relationships between climate change, land-use change, and water resources in different regions of the nation. As a first-order conclusion, results indicate that in many locations future conditions are likely to be different from past experience. Results also provide a plausible envelope on the range of streamflow and water quality responses to mid-21st century climate change and urban development in different regions of the nation. In addition, in many study areas the simulations suggest a likely direction of change of streamflow and water quality endpoints. Sensitivity studies evaluating the implications of different methodological choices help to improve the scientific foundation for conducting climate change impacts assessments, thus building the capacity of the water management community to understand and respond to climate change. This information is useful to inform and guide the development of response strategies for managing risk.

Jaeger, W. K., et al. (2013), Toward a formal definition of water scarcity in natural-human systems, Water Resour. Res., 49,4506–4517, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20249.

Water scarcity may appear to be a simple concept, but it can be difficult to apply to complex natural-human systems. While aggregate scarcity indices are straightforward to compute, they do not adequately represent the spatial and temporal variations in water scarcity that arise from complex systems interactions. The uncertain effects of future climate change on water scarcity add to the need for clarity on the concept of water scarcity.

Starting with a simple but robust definition—the marginal value of a unit of water we highlight key aspects of water scarcity and illustrate its many biophysical and socioeconomic determinants. We make four central observations. First, water scarcity varies greatly across location, time, and a multitude of uses that are valued either directly or indirectly by society. Second, water scarcity is fundamentally a normative, anthropocentric concept and, thus, can and should be distinguished from the related, purely descriptive notion of water deficit. While such an anthropocentric perspective may seem limiting, it has the potential to encompass the vast range of interests that society has in water. Third, our ability to understand and anticipate changes in water scarcity requires distinguishing between the factors that affect the value or benefits of water from those affecting the costs of transforming water in space, time and form. Finally, this robust and rigorous definition of water scarcity will facilitate better communication and understanding for both policymakers and scientists.

Bressers, Hans, et al, Water Governance Assessment Tool, With an Elaboration for Drought Resilience, DROP Governance Team, June 2013.

This document is explaining our Water Governance Assessment Tool and belongs to the INTERREG IVb DROP project (“Benefit of governance in DROught adaPtation”). First we will explain some background of the project and the tool. In Section 2 we will unfold the general Governance Assessment Tool with its five dimensions and four quality criteria. Section 3 will mention some specific background for governance of drought resilience, that will be incorporated in Section 4 that will specify for each of the five dimensions some specific topics of interest when applying the Tool to issues of drought resilience. Section 5 will stipulate some points of attention when applying the Tool in both data-gathering and –analysis.


The Economic Benefits of Protecting Healthy Watersheds, EPA 841-N-12-004, 2012, on the EPA web site Healthy Watersheds. To find the fact sheet go to the main web site and load the publication number into the search box.

Healthy intact watersheds provide many ecosystem services that are necessary for our social and economic well-being. These services include water filtration and storage, air filtration, carbon storage, nutrient cycling, soil formation, recreation, food and timber. Many of these services have not been monetized and therefore the economic contributions of healthy intact ecosystems are often under-valued when making land use decisions. Ecosystem services provided by healthy watersheds are difficult to replace and most often very expensive to engineer. An engineered ecosystem service replacement may only provide a fraction of the services provided by highly functioning natural systems.


Nelitz, Marc, et al, Tools for Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments for Watersheds, Prepared for Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, PN 1494, 2013.

This compendium of tools was prepared for use by technical experts, adaptation planners and resource managers to develop climate change vulnerability assessments of water quantity and water quality at a watershed scale.

Drawing guidance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this compendium defines vulnerability assessment as a process for assessing, measuring, and/or characterizing the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of watersheds to climate change. The purpose of a vulnerability assessment is to generate knowledge that improves understanding of the implications of climate change. The knowledge generated by a vulnerability assessment can inform allocation of resources for climate change planning and adaptation.


Hill, Margot, Adaptive Capacity of Water Governance: Cases from the Alps and Andes, International Mountain Society, 33(3):248-259. 2013.

The Alps and the Andes are both considered water towers in their respective continents and are thus significant not only for their own water needs but also for those of lowland regions farther downstream. As climate change impacts on the hydrology of mountain regions are increasingly observed, attention is turning to the adaptive capacity of the water governance regimes in mountain communities. This paper explores the adaptive capacity of two contrasting water governance regimes in the Swiss Alps and the Chilean Andes.


Peckenham, John, David Hart, Sean Smith, Shaleen Jain, and Whitney King. The Path to Sustainable Water Resources Solutions. Maine Policy Review 21.1 (2012): 46 -57. 

Water is essential both to human survival and to the ecosystems on which people depend. Although Maine is blessed with abundant water sources, managing them is crucial for both short and long-term uses. The authors describe the varying time and spatial scales involved in managing water resources, pointing out that policy decisions made at one time can have far-reaching consequences. They provide illustrations of water-resource projects from Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, ranging in size from Sebago Lake to vernal pools on individual properties.

Murrill, Brandon, Hydraulic Fracturing and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Selected Issues, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, R42502, 2012.

This CRS report was prepared for members and committees of Congress. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the potential environmental consequences of the actions they propose to take by preparing one of three NEPA documents. Actions that fit within a categorical exclusion (CE) undergo a relatively low level of review because these are actions that an agency has found do not have a significant effect on the environment. A CE may not be used when extraordinary circumstances occur. An environmental assessment (EA) provides a more comprehensive level of review and may be prepared when an agency wishes to determine whether an action requires the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). An EIS is the most comprehensive NEPA document; it requires, among other things, that the agency explain how the proposed action will affect the environment; what unavoidable adverse effects will result; and what alternatives to the proposed action exist. The report covers the approaches used by the USDA Rural Development Agency and the Delaware River Basin Commission.


Jafari, Ashfaque and G. Jagmohan Das, Integrated Conjunctive Use Model, Ins. J. Engg. Res. & Sci. & Tech., Vol. 2, No. 3, Aug. 2013.

Increasing shortages of water supplies coupled with deteriorating quality of the sources has made the earlier paradigms of water resources planning irrelevant. Today's planner needs to adopt a holistic systems approach which considers surface water and ground water as complementary resources paving the way for implementation of conjunctive use concept. In the present study, the conjunctive use model is constructed as an allocation model of surface water and ground water which is constrained by system dynamics comprising of recharge-discharge boundaries of ground water aquifers and inflow-outflow of surface water bodies.

The resulting non-linear programming model is solved by employing Sequential Unconstrained Minimization Technique. Finite element method is employed for solving the governing groundwater flow equation and the resulting hydraulics are incorporated in the optimization model by adopting unit response matrix technique.

The validity of the developed integrated model is demonstrated by applying it to a field problem. The results indicate that the developed mathematical model is robust and capable of simulating the system hydraulics satisfactorily and is responding to the demand variations, cost variations, surface water mass balance and ground water draw down constraints reliably.


Government Accountability Office: Unconventional Oil and Gas Production, Opportunities and Challenges of Oil Shale Development, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, House of Representatives, GAO-12-740T, 2012.

Fossil fuels are important to both the global and U.S. economies, and “unconventional” oil and gas resources—resources that cannot be produced, transported, or refined using traditional techniques—are expected to play a larger role in helping the United States meet future energy needs. With rising energy prices one such resource that has received renewed domestic attention in recent years is oil shale.

Oil shale is a sedimentary rock that contains solid organic material that can be converted into an oil-like product when heated. About 72 percent of this oil shale is located within the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming and lies beneath federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, making the federal government a key player in its potential development. In addition, the Department of Energy (DOE), advances energy technology, including for oil shale, through its various offices, national laboratories, and arrangements with universities.


Friedrich, Mark Alexander, Hydraulic Fracturing and Energy Security, the Cases of Bulgaria and Poland, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 2013. 

This thesis seeks to explain how shale gas affects the approaches to energy security taken by Bulgaria and Poland. It claims that the decisions regarding hydraulic fracturing taken by different states have to be seen in the context of the international system, thus through the lens of International Relations theory. This paper argues that Bulgaria and Poland have chosen very different approaches to hydraulic fracturing. However, these approaches are ultimately just a reflection of the two country’s energy policy in general. The cases show the complexity of how to pursue an energy strategy and the multiple factors that influence it. The implication of this finding is that what matters most for achieving energy security is consistency in politics.

Juwana, I., et al, Indicator-Based Water Sustainability Assessment-A Review, Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 438, pp. 357-371, 2012. 

In the past few decades, there have been extensive efforts on measuring sustainability. One example is the development of assessment tools based on sustainability indicators. Several individuals and organizations have suggested various indices for assessing sustainability. This paper focuses on the review of water sustainability assessment using the indicator-based approach. It discusses major definitions of sustainable development that have been proposed and more specific concepts of sustainability based on sustainability principles and criteria. It then proceeds with the review of existing definitions, principles and guidelines on sustainable water resource management. The paper then explores elements of indicator-based water sustainability assessment. These elements include the selection of components and indicators, obtaining sub-index values, weighting schemes for components and indicators, aggregation of components and indicators, robustness analysis of the index, and interpretation of the final index value. These six elements are explored considering four existing water sustainability indices and two other sustainability indices that are thought to be useful for the development and use of water sustainability indices.

EPA: Climate Change and Watersheds: Exploring the Links, Science Matters Newsletter, 2013.

EPA water scientists and their partners are studying how climate change may affect watersheds—the network of rivers and streams that feed into larger water bodies such as big rivers, lakes, and oceans. A recent EPA report, referred to as the 20 Watersheds Report, combines climate change models and watershed simulations to develop a better understanding of what changes to streams and rivers we might expect over the next several decades.


Shi, Daniel, et al, America’s Water Risk: Water Stress and Climate Variability, Columbia Water Center, Columbia University, Feb. 2013.

The emerging awareness of the dependence of business on water has resulted in increasing awareness of the concept of “Water Risk” and the diverse ways in which water can pose threats to businesses in certain regions and sectors. Businesses seek to secure sustainable income. To do so, they need to maintain a competitive advantage and brand differentiation. They need secure and stable supply chains. Their exposure risks related to increasing scarcity of water can come in a variety of forms at various points in the supply chain. Given increasing water scarcity and the associated deterioration of the quantity and quality of water sources in many parts of the world, many “tools” have been developed to map water scarcity risk or water risk. 

A clear understanding of shortages induced by droughts, in terms of the magnitude, duration and recurrence frequency will better inform the water businesses and water related sectors. To properly diagnose water risk, one needs to examine both existing demand and variations in renewable water supply at an appropriate spatial resolution and unit.

Here, we provide ways to estimate this risk and map it for the USA at a county level. The measures of water risk are estimated using over sixty years of precipitation and the current water use pattern for each county.


EPA: 2012 National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change. 

EPA's National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change sets out long-term goals and specific actions that are EPA's contributions to national efforts to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of a changing climate on water resources. The 2012 Strategy is organized around five long-term programmatic vision areas: protecting water infrastructure; coastal and ocean waters; watersheds; and, water quality. The EPA National Water Program looks forward to working with state, tribal, and local governments, as well as other partners to implement actions that address climate change challenges in these areas.

The 2012 Highlights of Progress report provides a summary of the major climate change-related accomplishments of EPA's national and regional water programs in 2012. This is the fourth climate change progress report for the National Water Program and the first progress report organized around the five long-term programmatic vision areas described in the National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change.

Padowski, Julie and James Jawitz, Water Availability and Vulnerability of 225 Large Cities in the United States, Water Resources Research, Vol. 48, 2012.

This study presents a quantitative national assessment of urban water availability and vulnerability for 225 U.S. cities with population greater than 100,000. Here, the urban assessments account for not only renewable water flows, but also the extracted, imported, and stored water that urban systems access through constructed infrastructure. These sources represent important hydraulic components of the urban water supply, yet are typically excluded from water scarcity assessments.

Results from this hydraulic-based assessment were compared to those obtained using a more conventional method that estimates scarcity solely based on local renewable flows. The inclusion of hydraulic components increased the mean availability to cities, leading to a significantly lower portion of the total U.S. population considered ‘‘at risk’’ for water scarcity (17%) than that obtained from the runoff method (47%). Water vulnerability was determined based on low-flow conditions, and smaller differences were found for this metric between at-risk populations using the runoff (66%) and hydraulic-based (54%) methods.

The large increase in the susceptible population between the scarcity measures evaluated using the hydraulic method may better reconcile the seeming contradiction in the United States between perceptions of natural water abundance and widespread water scarcity. Additionally, urban vulnerability measures developed here were validated using a media text analysis. Vulnerability assessments that included hydraulic components were found to correlate with the frequency of urban water scarcity reports in the popular press while runoff-based measures showed no significant correlation, suggesting that hydraulic-based assessments provide better context for understanding the nature and severity of urban water scarcity issues.


Becker, Jackson Jae, Microalgae Biofuel Production in the Desert Southwest, 2012.

As evidence of global climate change continues to become more apparent, the world is exploring ways for humans to live sustainable lives on Earth. The combustion of fossil fuels contributes to climate change by introducing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and the need for an alternative fuel source is increasingly important. Biofuels from microalgae may provide a fuel source that could meet energy demands while and be less harmful to the environment than fossil fuels. Microalgae production for the use of biofuels provides a renewable, environmentally friendly, and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Only requiring light, water, and carbon dioxide, algae has the capability to grow virtually anywhere, however the Southwestern region of the United States would make the most suitable environment for microalgae production. With high amounts of solar radiation, very few cloudy days, and consistent annual temperatures suitable for algae cultivation, the desert Southwest would be the most appropriate area for the production of American energy.


Giupponi, Carlo, Using Modern Decision Support Systems for Evidence Based Policy Making in IWRM in Developing Countries, Universita Ca Foscari di Venezia, Dipartimento di Economia, and Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change (CMCC).

Decision support systems (DSS) tools in the water management sector are usually developed upon hydrologic simulation models, to which they provide at least an interface for facilitated use beyond the restricted group of model developers. They quite often provide also routines for decision analysis and decision making  (e.g., optimization methods). In some cases they also include functionalities targeting the management of participatory processes  (e.g., elicitation of stakeholders’ preferences, group decision making, and conflict resolution). 

The EU funded SPLASH project (Coordinating European Water Research for Poverty Reduction, has thus included in its activities the writing of this report on Using modern decision support systems for evidence based policy making in IWRM developing countries with a general objective to harness the potential of modern decision support systems for policy making in the field of integrated water resources management in developing countries.

Government Accountability Office, GAO-13-253, Climate Change, Various Adaptation Efforts are Underway at Key Natural Resource Management Agencies, May 2013.

This report examines (1) steps key federal natural resource management agencies—Forest Service, NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management—have taken since 2007 to address adaptation and (2) how these agencies have collaborated at the national level on adaptation since 2007. GAO analyzed the agencies’ climate change adaptation guidance and planning documents and interviewed agency officials. GAO also visited one field location for each agency, selected using a non-probability approach, so the results are not generalizable to all of the agencies’ field locations.


Waylen, Kerry and Julia Martin-Ortega, Report on Knowledge Exchange Workshops on an Ecosystem Services Approach, The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, 2013.

The WATERS project aims to support the planning processes of decentralized environmental management, in particular to take better account of the pressures caused by future environmental change. To achieve this, VSO volunteers working in 4 districts (Nsjane, Chikhwawa, Salima and Karonga, in Malawi) are working closely with district officials to support their environmental district planning processes and to stimulate the involvement of the local village level committees

In this context, a series of knowledge exchange workshops were organized by The James Hutton Institute in collaboration with LEAD-SEA. The focus of the workshops was an Ecosystem Services Approach (ESAp), using this to promote system thinking in environmental planning and in the involvement of local communities. These workshops initiate a dialogue on how ESAp concepts can usefully inform planning processes for natural resource management and climate change adaptation, supported by the WATERS project. There were three types of knowledge exchange workshops, all held in May 2013:

• Cross-district workshop including high-level officials from the four districts, associated NGO staff and the VSO volunteers.

• District level workshops focused on teams of district officials and other local stakeholders (e.g. NGOs acting locally)

• Village-committee level workshops involving representatives of VNMRCs, other relevant local committees (e.g. health, family planning), extension workers and NGOs


Akhmouch, A. (2012), Water Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Multi-Level Approach, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, 2012/04, OECD


The water debate in relation to poverty alleviation has one dimension that is often sidelined: its relationship with public governance. This report attempts to shed some light on the governance of water policy in Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries. It argues that public governance of water in most LAC countries is fragmented, as it is in the OECD area as well, and that greater efforts to co-ordinate water with other policy areas are crucial to maximize the impact on poverty reduction. It emphasizes the need to design water policies in a more integrated manner and implement effective water governance tools and mechanisms that are context-specific, flexible and beneficial to the poor. 

Hughes, Sara and Robert Wilkinson, The Role of Governance in Shaping Freshwater Management in America: Toward Integrated Resources Planning, Prepared for the Performance of Environmental Governance Systems: Comparing America and China, Nanjing, China, 2013.

Freshwater is one of the world’s most precious resources, and managing it sustainably is a critically important goal. Fresh water and healthy aquatic ecosystems provide valuable services that society has come to depend on. While many factors determine the outcomes of freshwater management in the U.S., the aim of this paper is to examine the extent to which we can attribute these outcomes to the operation and evolution of governance systems. In this paper, we refer to “governance” as the steering influence of the rules, decision making processes, and incentives provided by both governmental and non-governmental actors, including the private sector and civil society.

In short, while the principles and objectives for freshwater management have changed significantly over the last 100 years, governance has remained a key factor determining freshwater management outcomes in the U.S. Governance systems have helped to distribute authority and incentives in freshwater management; they shape our responses to social and environmental change, and they determine whose voices are heard, and in what decision making venues. In turn, governance systems have created freshwater management challenges and solutions, and they will continue to do so in the future. As society’s goals for freshwater management change, our governance systems may also need to be changed. New challenges and expectations are confronting local, state and national level agencies in the U.S. that are designed to execute basic service functions in a static environment. Governance innovations – such as integrated resources planning and collaborative decision-making – have important potential to address these new challenges.


The Law and Policy of Hydraulic Fracturing: Addressing the Issues of the Natural Gas Boom, Case Western Reserve Law Review, Vol. 63, Issue 4, 2013. 

This issue of the journal contains a series of articles on hydraulic fracturing, some of which go beyond water resource concerns. The articles include such topics as state preemption, regulatory issues, horizontal drilling, water management, clean energy, climate change, the Gulf oil spill, and others.

Implementation of ORD Strategic Research Plans: A Joint Report of the Science Advisory Board and ORD Board of Scientific Counselors, EPA-SAB-12-012, 2012.

This report was submitted to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, as a blueprint for future actions within the Office of Research and Development (ORD). It covers all aspects of ORD, not just water resources concerns. Some important highlights of the report are:

• The Air, Climate and Energy program should include a plan for energy research and indicate how this research will integrate with the plans for climate and air quality research.

• The Chemical Safety for Sustainability program should demonstrate how its research products impact upon end users (e.g., risk managers, policy makers) and how it brings value for informing decisions.

• The Safe and Sustainable Waters program should identify and seek opportunities for leveraging research of other federal agencies and engage with communities in setting the program’s research priorities and research development. Program linkages with sustainability, nutrient management and green infrastructure are critical to the success of this program.

• ORD should develop and implement a strategic vision for the Human Health Risk Assessment program to enhance linkages among the program’s four thematic areas and other research programs, particularly the Chemical Safety for Sustainability program.

• The Homeland Security Research Program, a valuable national resource, should evaluate its potential contributions to sustainability and consider adopting a broader mission that considers the multiple benefits of its products and application of its research to help respond to a wide variety of environmental disasters.

• The Sustainable and Health Communities program should focus its science questions and research more clearly; articulate how it will interact with local communities, state environmental agencies and regional offices; and clearly distinguish research from implementation of environmental programs.

Inquiry Into EU Freshwater Policy, EU Agriculture, Fisheries, and Environment Sub-Committee, UK House of Lords, 2012.

This document contains oral and written evidence before the committee. It includes a large number of different organizations (at least 20), ranging from electricity producers, to food production, to nature conservation and nuclear production (from Germany), to ecology and hydrology. All opinions are captured and can be examined at leisure.


Benson, Reed D., Federal Water Law and the “Double Whammy”; How the Bureau of Reclamation Can Help the West Adapt to Drought and Climate Change, University of New Mexico School of Law, 2011. 

The water resources of the American West—especially the Southwest—are at risk from climate change, as an already arid region grows even drier, warmer, and prone to drought.  The dual threat of drought and climate change is a particular challenge for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), which operates hundreds of federal water projects throughout the region.  USBR has some authority to deal with these problems under the 2009 SECURE Water Act (for climate change) and the 1992 Drought Relief Act (for drought).  This article considers USBR’s climate change and drought programs, examining both the authorities and the implementation.  It concludes with recommendations on how USBR could better use the Drought Relief Act to help reduce the impacts of future water shortages.


Veljkocic, Nebojsa D., Sustainable Development Indicators: Case Study for South Morava River Basin, Serbian Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning, Republic of Serbia, 2013.

The subject of this research study is the elaboration and evaluation of indicators of sustainable development in the field of river basin management. The aggregate indicator entitled  Ecoregion Sustainable Development Index is identified by calculation of an average value by the procedure of leveling of proportion changes of three key indicators (demographic emission index, water quality index, and industrial production index). The developed aggregate indicator of sustainable development is calculated and analyzed for South Morava river basin in Serbia, for the period from 1980 to 2010. The beneficiaries of these indicators are the experts from the field of environmental protection and water management, who should use it for elaboration of reports directed towards the creators of economic development policies and river basin management planning. Elaborated according to the given methodology, the indicator Ecoregion Sustainable Development Index is available for the decision makers on the national level, internationally comparative and it provides the conditions for further elaboration and application.


Breen, Sarah-Patricia and Sarah Minnes, Water and Watershed Management: A Regional Development Perspective, Canadian Regional Development: A Critical Review of Theory, Practice, and Potentials, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, March 2013. 

This paper focuses on water and watershed management and its links with regional development. A watershed can be defined as a unique area of land serving as a natural management unit which captures precipitation, filters and stores water, and regulates its release. Watersheds are defined by complex relationships between human and natural processes, encompassing the interaction between soil, vegetation, animals, people, water, and climate. The study of watershed management includes all relevant characteristics, often with the overall goal of sustainable distribution of water and other watershed resources.


Book Review: Maxwell, Steve, The Future of Water: A Startling Look Ahead, American Water Works Association, and Zetland, David, The End of Abundance: Economic Solutions to Water Scarcity, Aguanomics Press. Both reviewed by G. Tracy Mehan III. Environmental Forum, May/June 2012.

Shifts in migratory pat­terns, driven by water short­ages and escalating costs, are some of the transformations outlined in Steve Maxwell’s very readable new book, The Future of Water: A Star­tling Look Ahead, written with Scott Yates. It surveys the United States and the globe to assess trends and potential solutions to what he does not hesitate to call “an in­exorable planetary crisis.” A grow­ing population, poverty, government water and energy subsidies, failure to price the resource, overconsumption, and an overall failure of political will and governance have contributed to this crisis.

Applying the lessons of eco­nomics and incentives to wa­ter management is the aim of Dr. David Zetland in his fine new volume, The End of Abundance: Eco­nomic Solutions to Water Scarcity. He believes the water sector can encour­age better stewardship and a greater degree of social harmony by substi­tuting pricing and market allocation of limited water sup­plies for political management.


N.C. Dey, et al, Assessing Environmental and Health Impact of Drought in the Northwest Bangladesh, J. Environmental Science and Natural Resources, 4(2): 89-97, 2011. 

Drought, the result of regional climatic variability is one of the dominant threats to environment. This study focuses on the biophysical, environmental and health issues concerning drought occurrence in northwest region of Bangladesh. Using both primary and secondary data, the analysis revealed that, during the drought period, rainfall as the dominant factor of supplying surface water and normalizing the dryness of the nature was almost 46% lower than the previous (normal) years. Similarly, average monthly sunshine hours in the drought year was about 7% higher compared to that of the normal year. On an average, groundwater level declined more than one meter compared to the previous years. Thus, many of the tubewells turned dry or failed to supply the required quantity of water for household and irrigation purposes. A significant number of surface water bodies including ponds, ditches, canals and streams had little volume of low quality water. In normal years, cent percent households used hand tubewells (HTWs) as the major source of drinking water, while in the drought period only 90% households could use HTW water since substantial proportion of the HTWs turned dry. People had to collect drinking and domestic water from far distance to meet the basic requirements. Increase in temperature and prevalence of severe dust during drought periods compared to the normal years caused different health hazards including dysentery and diarrhea due to unsafe drinking water.

Whittington, Dale, et al, The Economic Value of Moving Toward a More Water Secure World, Global Water Partnership Technical Committee, Background Paper No. 18, Stockholm, Sweden, 2013. (You may have to paste this link into your browser to reach the document)

Global Water Partnership, (GWP), established in 1996, is an international network open to all organizations involved in water resources management: developed and developing country government institutions, agencies of the United Nations, bi- and multilateral development banks, professional associations, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. GWP was created to foster Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which aims to ensure the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources by maximizing economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital environmental systems. 

GWP promotes IWRM by creating fora at global, regional, and national levels, designed to support stakeholders in the practical implementation of IWRM. The Partnership’s governance includes the Technical Committee (TEC), a group of internationally recognized professionals and scientists skilled in the different aspects of water management. This committee, whose members come from different regions of the world, provides technical support and advice to the other governance arms and to the Partnership as a whole. The Technical Committee has been charged with developing an analytical framework of the water sector and proposing actions that will promote sustainable water resources management. The Technical Committee maintains an open channel with the GWP Regional Water Partnerships (RWPs) around the world to facilitate application of IWRM regionally and nationally.

Worldwide adoption and application of IWRM requires changing the way business is conducted by the international water resources community, particularly the way investments are made. To effect changes of this nature and scope, new ways to address the global, regional, and conceptual aspects and agendas of implementing actions are required.


Seungho Lee, Comparative Research on River Basin Management in Korea and Japan, Korea University, Seoul, 2011. 

This research aims to explore the mode of River Basin Management (RBM) in Korea and Japan with a comparative perspective. The efforts of implementation of RBM in Korea have included the several attempts to enact the Basic Water Bill, and river basin environmental offices and committees in the four major rivers. Japan has also endeavored to introduce policy efforts to accommodate the new approach including the establishment of river basin comprehensive water resources management committees. Despite such policy efforts, the comparative analyses indicate a series of challenges. The first challenge is to transfer the relevant power from center to river basins. Second, there is a lack of laws and regulations to support a set-up of RBM. Third, river basin organizations are not compatible with the current administrative systems in Korea and Japan. Fourth, river basin organizations require independent funding. Fifth, there are conflicts between ministries involved in water management. It is concluded that more emphasis should be placed on establishment of adequate institutions and legal settings in order to establish RBM in these countries alongside political commitment.

Summary of the High-Level Meeting of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, The Hague, the Netherlands, March 21-22, 2013.

The High-Level Meeting of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda took place from 21-22 March 2013, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The meeting consisted of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, also called “Wings for Water,” which took place on 21 March, and the celebration of International World Water Day on the theme of water cooperation, which took place on 22 March. The meetings, hosted by the Netherlands, brought together representatives of governments, international organizations, civil society, religious bodies, the private sector and youth, to discuss the outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Dutch “Wings for Water” Initiative outcome, the “Wake Up Call on Water.” The high-level segment took place on the afternoon of 22 March with the convening of the High-Level Forum on the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which endorsed the outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation.


Sustainability and the U.S. EPA, National Research Council, National Academies Press, 2013. 

An ad hoc committee under the NRC has authored a consensus report, released in August 2011, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Office of Research and Development (ORD) to help define their efforts to incorporate sustainability concepts into agency programs. This report builds on existing sustainability efforts that ORD has conducted by strengthening the analytic and scientific basis for sustainability as it applies to human health and environmental protection within the Agency's decision-making process. Dissemination activities are being planned for 2013. The report covers many more topics in addition to water resources.

Year 2012

Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, Issue 147, Scale Interactions, Universities Council on Water Resources, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, March 2012.

The challenge is to articulate the conditions under which scale imposed constraints are systematic and to develop models that compensate or standardize scale-based variation. Following this point of view, different model structures would be needed to accurately represent the phenomenon at different scales. For instance, studies of water demands at the national or sub-national scale would need lesser bundles of attributes to define the problem than studies at the local scale – wherein many more factors interact and become important (distance to water source, number of households having access, duration, timing etc.). Primary issues therefore center on gaining a better understanding of how to effectively measure and characterize scale; how to use scale information in judging the fitness of data for a particular use; how to automate scale change or scaling and simultaneously represent data at multiple scales; and how scale and change in scale affect information content, analysis, and conclusions about patterns and processes in water resources, hydrology, and climate. The papers in this issue address these concerns.


Government Accountability Office, Oil and Gas, Interior Has Strengthened Its Oversight of Subsea Well Containment, but Should Improve Its Documentation, GAO-12-244, February 2012.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on board the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore drilling rig, resulted in 11 deaths and the largest oil spill in U.S. history in the Gulf of Mexico. After this event, the Department of the Interior (Interior), which oversees oil and gas operations in federal waters, suspended certain offshore drilling operations. After developing new guidance, Interior resumed approving drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. GAO was asked to examine (1) the industry’s improved capabilities for containing subsea wells (those on the ocean floor) in the Gulf of Mexico; (2) Interior’s oversight of subsea well containment in the Gulf of Mexico; and (3) the potential to use similar subsea well containment capabilities in other federal waters, such as those along the Alaskan coast. This report documents the results of this investigation.


Ford, Rachel N., Managing Great Lakes Water as a Common Pool Resource: Barriers to and Opportunities for Collective Action Among Irrigators in Southwest Michigan, Michigan State University, 2012.

In response to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, which protects the region against diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Basin, the State of Michigan has created a water use program to be implemented by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The program regulates large-quantity water withdrawals (LQWs) of greater than 100,000 gallons per day to prevent adverse resource impacts (ARIs), defined as reduction of the index flow in streams and subsequent decline of fish populations. The rivers and their corresponding watersheds in the state were segmented into over 5,000 catchment areas to be used as management units for the identification and mitigation of ARIs. An assessment process consisting of an online screening tool and a site-specific review uses data on aquifer yields, stream index flow, and fish population response to categorize each new or increased LQW according to the risk of ARI. Should an ARI be detected in a catchment, all registered and permitted large-quantity water appropriators potentially will be convened into a water user committee to create a management plan for reducing water use in the area. The dynamics of these negotiations are unknown. This research explores a case study of agricultural irrigators in Southwest Michigan for conditions that influence transaction costs of negotiating and monitoring rules of a water reduction management plan. The identification of these potential barriers and opportunities for collective action results in suggestions for the DEQ to reduce transaction costs and improve the efficacy of the water use program in Michigan.


Kumar, M. Dinesh, et al, Capacity Building in Water Resource Sector of India, Institute for Resource Analysis and Policy, Hyderabad, 2012.            (You may have to paste this link in your browser for it to work properly)

With mounting water scarcity, the priorities for the water agencies of the country have broadened from mere water development to encompass water allocation and water resources management. But, the institutional capacity building of the agencies responsible for water resources and services management hasn’t kept pace with the changing times. Building institutional capacity warrants primarily the following: i] framing the right kind of water policies; ii] crafting the right kind of rules and regulations, institutions and instruments; and, iii] fostering the needed organizational changes among the agencies concerned for water allocation and sustainable water resources management.

            The paper highlights three sets of key issues facing them. They are: a] team building of professionals with multi-disciplinary skills, to provide research and expert inputs for policy formulation, institutional design and design of economic instruments; and, b] mobilizing resources and skills for creating new organizations including development of local institutions, and restructuring wherever needed; and, c] augmenting the overall strength of technical staff in various departments engaged in water resources management and water-related services. Availability of multitude of professional agencies which can undertake tailor-made capacity building activities for various stakeholders is a critical issue. The paper argues that focus of the state and central governments should now be on building world-class human resource base, with trainers, researchers and water management professionals with multi disciplinary skills.


Sarukkalige, Ranjan, et al, Evaluation of the Impacts of Land Use on Storm Water Quality: Case Study from Western Australia, International Journal of Environmental Science and Development, Vol. 3, No. 1, Feb. 2012.

This study evaluates the impacts of land use on storm water quality. Storm water samples were collected from three main land use areas; residential, commercial and industrial lands around the Town of Victoria Park in Western Australia. Each sample was tested to measure important water quality parameters. Time variation of storm water flow, rainfall intensity and storm water quality clearly showed that the highest concentration of pollutants in storm water occurs during the first flush event. Further analysis shows that the commercial storm water demonstrated the cleanest appearing storm water with lowest amounts of suspended solids whereas the industrial storm water had the dirtiest appearing storm water quality. Nutrients in the residential storm water have the lowest nitrate, ammonia and phosphate concentrations. Overall, the industrial land use site recorded the worst storm water quality. Study further provides recommendations for water quality improvement and management controls.


K. Shreelakshmi et al, Situation Analysis on Climate Change, Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative, International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2012.

Bangladesh and India share three major river systems: the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. Along with their tributaries, these rivers drain about 1.75 million sq km of land, with an average runoff of 1,200 cu km. The GBM system also supports over 620 million people. Thus, the need for cooperation on trans-boundary waters is crucial to the future well-being of these millions.

Ecosystems for Life will develop, through dialogue and research, longer-term relationships between various stakeholder groups within and between the countries. It will develop a common understanding to generate policy options on how to develop and manage natural resources sustainably such that livelihoods and water and food security improve. Inter-disciplinary research studies will be conducted by bringing together experts from various fields from both countries so that relevant issues are holistically grasped.

The initiative centers around five broad thematic areas:

• food security, water productivity and poverty;

• impacts of climate change;

• inland navigation;

• environmental security; and

• biodiversity conservation.


Hezri, Adnan and Rospidah Ghazali, A Fair Green Economy?, Studies of Agriculture, Energy and Waste Initiatives in Malaysia, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, December 2011.

Malaysia’s national green economy framework reflects a mainstream economics framing, such as that of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). That is, it attempts to strengthen the economy via incentives, the tax system, pricing, regulatory frameworks and prioritized investments. Its target group, however, is industries located in urban centers and not the poor communities living in the rural areas of Malaysia. Consequently, the social dimension is not clearly spelled out in terms of program and policy tools, despite the fact that “improving the quality of life for all” is one of the four pillars of Malaysia’s National Green Technology Policy. This is manifested in the country’s green policy design, evincing an urban bias. Given this scenario, the empirical section of this paper surveys piecemeal greening projects in a subnational context, particularly in Malaysia’s rural frontier where poverty is still a major challenge. These projects are not officially considered a part of the country’s recent response to the green economy agenda. Through case studies of agriculture, renewable energy and waste-to-wealth initiatives, the paper illustrates that green economy in Malaysia has most potential when it arises from the engagement of communities. The paper explores the contribution of these three sectors in meeting social policy objectives, as well as the challenges. Specifically, the paper investigates the benefits from a greener economy that will accrue to society members who are disadvantaged economically and geographically.


Ajeagah, Gideon, et al, Bacteriological and Environmental Characterization of the Water Quality in the Danube River Basin in the Galati Area of Romania, African Journal of Microbiology Research, Vol. 6(2), 16 January 2012. Click on Archive, then click on issue of 16 January 2012, Vol. 6(2). The paper is further down the list of authors.

In order to contribute with date to the Danube River Basin which is a prime European waterway, this analysis was carried out on the one hand to investigate the possibilities of sanitary risks that are incurred by the riverside population as they are engaged in professional recreational activities that impose a direct contact between man and water, that is intensely developed along the aquatic system and on the other hand to indicate a clear cut picture of the final level of coliforms and Escherichia coli that is actually present in the Galati industrial segment of the Danube River. Total coliforms, faecal coliforms and E. coli could attain values reaching 1.5×103, 9.5×102 and 6.4×103 CFU/ml, respectively for the aquatic ecosystems analysed. A variation of these parameters with respect to the ecodynamical characteristic of the Danube water quality such as temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, salinity and hydrogen sulphite reveal the preponderant role that abiotic factors play in the dispersion of bio-contaminants in a broad basin ecosystem. While the persistence of E. coli during the sampling period from June to September confirm the fact that there is a continuous faecal pollution of this medium. The high presence of organic pollutants in this medium, combined with the presence of coliforms and E. coli, could be related to an accumulation of waste matter all along the ecosystem, also due to the lack of wastewater treatment plants for domestic and industrial discharges, the high impact of human activities across the international river basin and the difficulties encountered in the natural operational processes of self purification.


Wan-Jiun Chen and Shyue-Cherng Liaw, Evaluation of Economic Values for Watershed Management in Northeastern Taiwan, Chinese Culture University and National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan.

A watershed can generate benefits for residents for providing multiple services. However, the quest for services from a watershed and the consequent benefits are not identical for different groups of people. This paper took upstream Lanyang watershed (ULW) in Taiwan for a case study to investigate the opinions from different related groups of people and to assess the economic values generated from this upstream watershed for them. The Lanyang watershed is located in northeastern Taiwan. Two groups of related people are under investigation. One is the local residents of this upstream watershed, and the other is the downstream residents. Consistent with the behavior of rent-seekers, divergent interests arouse their opinions toward watershed management. Both groups of people concern about land and water conservation to ensure the safety of their lives and property. In addition, upstream residents devote much attention to local economic development. The economic value of ULW is higher for local ULW residents, with comparison of the downstream residents. Initiating eco-tourism and transforming agriculture for recreation purpose in this upstream watershed can create jobs, increase local income without further destructive exploitation. These are suggested as feasible and sustainable development practices for effectively integrating multiple but divergent needs from different groups of people. Public involvement management can support the success of sustainable development of this watershed.


EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study, Summary of Technical Roundtables

On November 14–16, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a series of five technical roundtables focused on each stage of the water cycle, as defined in the study plan for EPA’s Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. In this study, each stage of the cycle is associated with a primary research question:

Water acquisition: What are the possible impacts of large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface waters on drinking water resources?

Chemical mixing: What are the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing fluid surface spills on or near well pads on drinking water resources?

Well injection: What are the possible impacts of the injection and fracturing process on drinking water resources?

Flowback and produced water: What are the possible impacts of flowback and produced water (collectively referred to as “hydraulic fracturing wastewater”) surface spills on or near well pads on drinking water resources?

Wastewater treatment and waste disposal: What are the possible impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater on drinking water resources?

Based on feedback from the November 2012 roundtables, EPA will host in-depth technical workshops to address specific topics in greater detail. EPA believes a transparent, research-driven approach with significant stakeholder involvement can address questions about hydraulic fracturing.


Knapen, M.J.R., et al, Evaluating and Improving OpenMI as a Model Integration Platform Across Disciplines, 19th International Congress on Modeling and Simulation, Perth, Australia, December 2011.

OpenMI is a open source software standard for dynamically linking models at runtime, which can potentially be used in many domains, but is currently mainly applied in the water and environmental domains. This paper examines the use of OpenMI in several multi-disciplinary large projects that worked on integrated models. These projects operated in the disciplines of agriculture, land use, nitrogen cycling, forestry, hydrology and economics. The overall objective is to investigate the strengths and weaknesses of integrated modelling according to open frameworks based on standards in general, and OpenMI in particular, based on feedback from both software developers and modelers that contributed to the aforementioned projects on the use of OpenMI, combined with the authors’ knowledge and experience. Recommendations for improvements of OpenMI specific and integrated modelling in general are presented.

The OpenMI ( ) is a data and model integration framework, designed to take independent data and computing systems and provide a standard means of describing how time series are communicated between the systems. It has been developed from the need to answer integrated hydrological catchments management questions within the EU 5th framework program project. The OpenMI is available under the terms of the open source license LGPL (SDK implementations might apply the even less restrictive MIT open source license) with the aim of easier dissemination. 

The OpenMI is under development and under the supervision of the OpenMI Association, which has as its main objectives to promote its development, use, management and maintenance. It is an entirely open international group of organizations and people, with a small core team that supports, responds to and is guided by a growing active worldwide user community.


EPA-SAB-12-012: In September 2012 the EPA Science Advisory Board sent their recommendations to the EPA Administrator. This report covers all aspects of the Office of Research and Development, and goes far beyond water resources. The report can be found at:

The Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the Executive Committee of Office of Research and Development (ORD’s) Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) have strongly supported the consolidation of EPA’s research programs as part of an integrated transdisciplinary approach to research that aligns with your priorities and takes a systems approach to sustainability. Over the past year, the ORD has realigned its research into six new program areas: Air, Climate and Energy; Safe and Sustainable Water Resources; Sustainable and Healthy Communities; Chemical Safety for Sustainability; Human Health Risk Assessment; and Homeland Security Research. ORD requested that the SAB and the BOSC provide advice on implementation of these new program areas. The SAB and the BOSC agree that ORD has made remarkable progress towards integrated transdisciplinary research, systems approaches and sustainability despite changes in leadership over the past year. The Strategic Research Action Plans developed by ORD for its six research programs are important achievements. These plans crystallize and communicate ORD’s new approach to its mission.

The report provides recommendations to strengthen each research program. Some highlights are listed below:

·       The Air, Climate and Energy program should include a plan for energy research and indicate how this research will integrate with the plans for climate and air quality research.

·       The Chemical Safety for Sustainability program should demonstrate how its research products impact upon end users (e.g., risk managers, policy makers) and how it brings value for informing decisions.

·       The Safe and Sustainable Waters program should identify and seek opportunities for leveraging research of other federal agencies and engage with communities in setting the program’s research priorities and research development. Program linkages with sustainability, nutrient management and green infrastructure are critical to the success of this program.

·       ORD should develop and implement a strategic vision for the Human Health Risk Assessment program to enhance linkages among the program’s four thematic areas and other research programs, particularly the Chemical Safety for Sustainability program.

·       The Homeland Security Research Program, a valuable national resource, should evaluate its potential contributions to sustainability and consider adopting a broader mission that considers the multiple benefits of its products and application of its research to help respond to a wide variety of environmental disasters.

·       The Sustainable and Health Communities program should focus its science questions and research more clearly; articulate how it will interact with local communities, state environmental agencies and regional offices; and clearly distinguish research from implementation of environmental programs.

EPA Healthy Watersheds Initiative, Government web site, 2012.

EPA has launched an initiative called “Healthy Watersheds” that emphasizes protection and conservation of aquatic ecosystems. The initiative is being introduced on a Web site which provides information on tools to identify and protect healthy watersheds and their components. The Web site provides critical information for making strategic decisions to both protect and restore our nation’s waters. State officials will benefit greatly from the Healthy Watersheds initiative since they generally operate at the scale needed to implement strategic conservation decisions and are well-suited for assessing and managing watershed resources. Local governments, watershed practitioners, and regional agencies will also benefit from this initiative.


Symmonds, Graham and Trevor Hill, Smarter Water: Ensuring Water Sustainability Via Infrastructure, Incentives, and Information, Global Water Resources, Phoenix, Arizona, 2011.

All nations are now recognizing that the world’s water is a finite resource subject to increased variability in both availability and quality by climate change and population growth. To survive in this new reality, water managers must not only increase the availability of conservation infrastructure – dual water mains etc – they must also increase the availability of information available to consumers and provide direct incentives for conservation.

Addressing this water crisis requires a fundamental change in planning and infrastructure deployment employed for water resources; a change from the largesse policies of the past to stewardship of the future and a commitment to engage the consumer in active conservation. By combining the new water delivery paradigm emphasizing the “right water for the right use” with a concerted rate incentive program and data rich information for consumer, significant operational and infrastructure efficiencies are achieved while promoting water conservation at the user level.


Shu-Quing Yang, et al, Novel Separation, Protection, and Prevention (SPP) Water Management Strategy and Its Applications, School of Civil, Mining, & Environmental Engineering, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, 2011.

 Clean freshwater is the most precious resource in the world and the development of water resources has had a very long history, as early as humans changed from being hunters and food collectors to modern civilization. At very early stage, people had to rely on creeks, rivers and lakes for their water demand that was relatively small, and today humans have accumulated the knowledge and techniques for water storage, building artificial lakes or reservoirs to meet their huge water demand due to industrialization and urbanization. The world’s earliest large dam was the Sadd-el-kafara Dam built in Egypt between 2950 and 2690 B.C. Up to now, water from lakes and reservoirs is still the main source for people’s water supply. However these large water bodies suffer two problems incurred by nature and human being, one is sedimentation and the other water pollution. Two of them jointly reduce the available amount of clean water and deteriorate the water quality. Consequently, approximate 1.1 billion people lack of safe drinking water and between 2 and 5 million people die annually from water-related disease. It is understandable that with the population growth in the world, it is difficult to provide sufficient clean water to meet the demand; on the other hand, our natural systems are under pressure from drought (too little), floods (too much), pollution (too dirty), climate change, and other stresses. This creates serious challenges for water management. Within a generation, water demand in many countries is forecast to exceed supply by an estimated 40%. In other parts of the world prone to flooding, catastrophic floods normally expected once a century could occur every 20 years instead.


Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources, EPA 601/R-12/011, Dec. 2012.

Movahedi, Reza and Hadi Fathi, Analysis of Sustainable Water Resource Management in Agriculture: Case of Kurdistan, Iran, International Journal of Agriculture: Research and Review, Vol. 2 (2), 53-58, 2012.

The purpose of this research was to analyze the supportive policies and dimensions of sustainable water resources management (SWRM) in agriculture of Kurdistan Province in Iran. The research method was quantitative research. Total population of experts in the study included all agricultural extension experts (n= 135) of agricultural organizations of Kurdistan Province, Iran. Based on frequency of respondents about important rate of supportive policies regarding SWRM in agriculture, 76.3% of respondents stated that encouraging farmers to use sustainable methods had very high importance. In reference to the frequency of respondents about extension system roles on realization of SWRM dimensions in agriculture, 71.2% of respondents stated that increasing knowledge of farmers regarding SWRM had very high importance for supporting SWRM in agriculture.

Kilic, Murat and Suer Anac, Sustainable Management of Large Scale Irrigation Systems: A Decision Support Model for Gediz Basin, Turkey, Ege University, Department of Irrigation and Agricultural Structures, Izmir, Turkey. 

While water on a global scale is plentiful, 97% of it is saline and 2.25% is trapped in glaciers and ice, leaving only 0.75% available in freshwater aquifers, rivers and lakes. About 70% of this fresh water is used for agricultural production, 22% for industrial purposes and 8% for domestic purposes. Increasing competition for water for domestic and industrial purposes is likely to reduce the water available for agriculture. 

In developing countries, agriculture continues to be an important economic sector as it makes a significant contribution to national incomes and economic growth. As water scarcity intensifies in many regions of the world, better management of irrigation is becoming an issue of paramount importance. Generally, optimal multi-cropping patterns and irrigation areas associated with appropriate reservoir operation and irrigation scheduling are essential for increasing the overall efficiency of reservoir-irrigation systems.

In this investigation, the real-time irrigation programming model MONES 4.1 developed by Kilic was applied to the irrigation system known as Sector VII which is served by 28 tertiary canals in the Right Bank Irrigation System of Ahmetli Regulator in the Lower Gediz Basin, Turkey. Irrigation programs from the model for different periods were analyzed, and the results were compared with the actual irrigation applications in the system.


Hamdan, Sami, Artificial Recharge of Groundwater with Stormwater as a New Water Resource: Case Study of the Gaza Strip, Palestine, Institut fur Angewandte Geowissenshaften, Technische Universitat Berlin, 2012.

Due to the existing deficit in the water resources budget in the Gaza Strip, the groundwater quality was deteriorated and salinity reached more than 1500 mg/l as chloride ion. Moreover the groundwater level declined continuously until it reached few meters below sea levels in most areas. The average annual rainfall amounts to 350 mm giving a bulk volume of rainfall fallen on the Gaza Strip amounting to 114 Mm3 every year, from which only 45 Mm3/year is infiltrated naturally to groundwater, and the rest either evaporates or flows to the sea.

Non-conventional water resources such as desalination, wastewater reuse and storm water harvesting are needed to bridge the gap in water resources budget. Desalination is faced by financial constraints in addition to problems of available power. Urban stormwater harvesting became an important water resource that plays a significant role in enhancement of water resources management. It has a potential input of about 28 Mm3 per year as runoff, from which 22 Mm3 come from urban areas in cities only based on the existing land use.

Most of the scarce water countries promote rainwater harvesting system (RWH) as one of the strategic water resources due to growing demand of water. RWH is practiced commonly in remote areas especially in the villages, where connecting water pipes is not economically feasible. Qualitatively, the harvested rooftop storm water runoff in Gaza has proved to be suitable for artificial recharge and close to WHO drinking water standards, where low concentrations of chloride and nitrate were found. The measured concentrations of lead, cadmium, iron, zinc, chromium, aluminum and copper were in the acceptable limits set by WHO for drinking purposes.


Oil and Gas: Information on Shale Resources, Development, and Environmental and Public Health Risks, Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-732, Sept. 2012.

Estimates of the size of shale oil and gas resources in the United States by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Potential Gas Committee––three organizations that estimate the size of these resources—have increased over the last 5 years, which could mean an increase in the nation’s energy portfolio. For example, in 2012, EIA estimated that the amount of technically recoverable shale gas in the United States was 482 trillion cubic feet—an increase of 280 percent from EIA’s 2008 estimate. However, according to EIA and USGS officials, estimates of the size of shale oil and gas resources in the United States are highly dependent on the data, methodologies, model structures, and assumptions used to develop them. In addition, less isknown about the amount of technically recoverable shale oil than shale gas, in part because large-scale production of shale oil has been under way for only the past few years. Estimates are based on data available at a given point in time and will change as additional information becomes available. In addition, domestic shale oil and gas production has experienced substantial growth; shale oil production increased more than fivefold from 2007 to 2011, and shale gas production increased more than fourfold from 2007 to 2011.

Oil and gas development, whether conventional or shale oil and gas, pose inherent environmental and public health risks, but the extent of these risks associated with shale oil and gas development is unknown, in part, because the studies GAO reviewed do not generally take into account the potential long-term, cumulative effects. For example, according to a number of studies and publications GAO reviewed, shale oil and gas development poses risks to air quality, generally as the result of (1) engine exhaust from increased truck traffic, (2) emissions from diesel-powered pumps used to power equipment, (3) gas that is flared (burned) or vented (released directly into the atmosphere) for operational reasons, and (4) unintentional emissions of pollutants from faulty equipment or impoundments—temporary storage areas.

Similarly, a number of studies and publications GAO reviewed indicate that shale oil and gas development poses risks to water quality from contamination of surface water and groundwater as a result of erosion from ground disturbances, spills and releases of chemicals and other fluids, or underground migration of gases and chemicals. For example, tanks storing toxic chemicals or hoses and pipes used to convey wastes to the tanks could leak, or impoundments containing wastes could overflow as a result of extensive rainfall. According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s 2011 Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, spilled, leaked, or released chemicals or wastes could flow to a surface water body or infiltrate the ground, reaching and contaminating subsurface soils and aquifers.

In addition, shale oil and gas development poses a risk to land resources and wildlife habitat as a result of constructing, operating, and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to develop oil and gas; using toxic chemicals; and injecting fluids underground. However, the extent of these risks is unknown. For example, the studies and publications GAO reviewed on air quality conditions provide information for a specific site at a specific time but do not provide the information needed to determine the overall cumulative effects that shale oil and gas activities may have on air quality. Further, the extent and severity of environmental and public health risks identified in the studies and publications GAO reviewed may vary significantly across shale basins and also within basins because of location- and process-specific factors, including the location and rate of development; geological characteristics, such as permeability, thickness, and porosity of the formations; climatic conditions; business practices; and regulatory and enforcement activities.

Note: Hydraulic fracturing is now the subject of an extensive study being carried out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. See The EPA plan for the study is also located on this site.


Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels in the United States, Board on Energy and Environmental Systems, National Research Council, National Academies Press, Washington, 2012.

Domestic production of renewable fuels, including algal biofuels, has the potential to meet the dual goals of improving energy security and decreasing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector in the United States. Biofuels produced from microalgae and cyanobacteria1 offer potential advantages over terrestrial plant-based biofuels, such as high biomass productivity and the ability to grow in cultivation ponds or photobioreactors on nonarable lands using saline water or wastewater sources. However, along with potential environmental and social benefits, production of algal biofuels could result in significant resource inputs and in negative environmental and other detrimental effects, as is true of all forms of energy production.

At the request of the Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (DOE-EERE) Biomass Program, the National Research Council (NRC) convened a committee of 15 experts to examine the sustainable development of algal biofuels. The purpose of this study was to identify and anticipate potential sustainability concerns associated with a selected number of pathways for large-scale deployment of algal biofuels, discuss potential strategies for mitigating those concerns, and suggest indicators and metrics that could be used and data to be collected for assessing sustainability across the biofuel supply chain to monitor progress as the industry develops. In addition, the committee was asked to identify indicators that are most critical to address or have the greatest potential for improvement through DOE intervention and to suggest preferred cost and benefit analyses that could best aid in the decision-making process.

Anastas, Paul T., Fundamental Changes to EPA’s Research Enterprise: The Path Forward, Environmental Science and Technology, 2012, 46, 580-586.

Since 2010, significant changes have been made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) research enterprise. All of EPA’s actions and decisions are based on science and research. Whether it is crisis response, chemical assessment, or regulatory decision making, none of the Agency’s work to protect human health and the environment would be possible without the data, tools, science, and information provided by its researchers and the broader scientific community. The Agency has recently undertaken a major effort to realign its research portfolio in order to more effectively address pressing environmental challenges and better serve the Agency’s decision making functions into the future. Principles of the path forward include Sustainability, Systems, Integrated Trans-Disciplinary Research, Solutions, and Acting Catalytically. A program of Safe and Sustainable Water Resources is part of this initiative.


The Clean Water Act at 40, WE&T, OCTOBER 2012, Water Environment Federation.

This special report reflects on the regulatory, technological, and financial advances spurred by the Clean Water Act as well as looks forward to what’s next for water quality and the sector.

Turning 40 is associated with reflection and renewal. Looking at the past, one makes changes, or at least resolutions, for the future. As we consider the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA), we in the water sector will construct a slideshow of happy memories and accomplishments: rivers and lakes returned to health, vibrant urban waterfronts, millions of Americans enjoying recreational opportunities in waterways they once would have avoided. These images are real, and CWA has resulted in tremendous progress. CWA commonly and rightfully is labeled the most successful of our national environmental statutes. But as we prepare to slice the birthday cake, many water professionals think CWA is beginning to show its age. They are frustrated by what many see as stalled progress and continuing difficulty in solving 2012’s water quality challenges — challenges that are not addressed very well under 1972’s law.

Specific suggestions for modernizing CWA have included:

• allowing for greater targeting of priority pollution on a watershed basis;

• better integrating of CWA and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements;

• using market-based solutions, such as water quality trading, incentives, or regulatory strategies, to encourage adoption of innovative technologies for point and nonpoint sources; and

• creating a new funding paradigm that provides adequate money for state administration of CWA and the capital projects undertaken by local governments.

Contemporary Technologies for Shale-Gas Water and Environmental Management

Order No: P120003
Water Environment Federation

Cutting edge gas-shale corporate developers, environmental researchers, and concerned municipality representatives present contemporary technical information and explore potential issues and concerns with gas-shale stakeholders. The publication focuses on related science and engineering technology and presents information on emerging technologies, case studies, and rational cautions for chemical and radiological adverse human and environmental interactions. Includes:

• Overview of gas-shale drilling and technology (Fracking 101) and management of water needs, reuse, and disposal.
• Overview of chemical aspects and significant considerations of shale-gas water management.
• Fate and transport of radium brought to the surface during drilling and other associated shale-gas operations.
• Relationship of shale formation properties, produced water quality, and water management strategies.
• The management of divalent metal scale formers (water softening) to enhance reuse of flowback water.
• In-process reuse and recycle of impaired shale-gas waters prior to disposal.
• Laboratory and field data linking conversion of bromides to bromate in conventional drinking water plant chlorination facilities.
• Reversible sorption and desorption of organics from impoundment basins and wells by an innovative organic–inorganic material based on silica.
• Case studies using nonconventional technology for treatment, reuse, and disposal of shale gas waters in Pennsylvania.
• Impoundment liner considerations for flowback water retention.

Published by WEF. Soft cover. 173 pages. 2012.

This report can be found at  It is for sale by the Water Environment Federation, based on papers presented at WEFTEC12 in New Orleans.


Zakar, Muhammad Zakria, et al, Climage Change-Induced Water Scarcity: A Threat to Human Health, Research Journal of South Asian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, July-December 2012, pp. 293-312.

Climate change might affect the development of water scarcity least in some areas of the world. Water scarcity means not only the availability but also the quality of water and sanitation. Climate change might reduce the capacity of the state to provide health care to the population. Thereby, climate change has direct and indirect impacts on human security and hence health effects may result from (climate change induced) water scarcity. Mainly developing countries will be affected by water scarcity due to their population increase. Water scarcity may lead to a reduction of institutional resources and thereby to a lack in the health care system. Therefore, climate change causes different factors which may promote local and/or transnational conflicts. This impacts the human security and health. Even though climate change is not the only reason for water scarcity, it may affect political and social conflicts and has thereby impact on populations’ health.


Husain, Azar and Ayman T. Hamin, Climate Change Impact on Hydro-Meteorological Variables: A Review, International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering, Vol. 2, Issue 9, Sept. 2012.

Due to increasing concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, several hydro-meteorological variables are likely to be significantly impacted. Reservoir operations, crop production, erosion processes, runoff production and many other hydrological processes are likely to be impacted by the ongoing climate change. This paper presents a comprehensive review of climate change impact on hydro-meteorological variables in several river basins around the world. The hydro-meteorological variables considered in this study include maximum temperature, minimum temperature, precipitation, and streamflow. A review of local weather generators to model hydrological impact of climate change has also been presented. Changes in the frequency of hydro-climatic extremes may be one of the most  significant consequences of climate change. Therefore, a review of impacts of climate change on hydrological extremes has also been presented.


Gladwell, J., Sustainable Development/Water Interactions, Water Interactions with Energy, Environment, Food, and Agriculture, Vol. II, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, 2011.

Even though it is probably true that in more recent times the water planning and management procedures used in most parts of the world appear to have been reasonably adequate, it is now becoming increasingly questionable. A sustainable approach is now required. Yet, it is quite one thing to say “sustainable” in every breath, and another to create a sustainable system when the definition is so vague. A number of questions will certainly have to be answered if water resources experts are to become successful ‘sustainable water resource developers’. Unified concepts for designing, operating, and maintaining water resource systems that could assure planners of a sustainable product are still to be developed.

The September issue of Water Resources Impact, published by the American Water Resources Association (AWRA), is on Sustainable Water Resources. The table of contents of this issue can be found at

Important points for this issue include articles by USGS, USDA, and EPA, all in the same issue. In addition, there are articles from AWRA and the Water Environment Federation, two of the most well-known professional water organizations. The issue concludes with an application of water resources sustainability to the Caribbean region, by authors at CCNY and Auburn.

The full issue can be obtained from AWRA, either by becoming a member or by subscription to Impact. For further information see


Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Review of the Implementation of the OECD Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century, Making Green Growth Deliver, Meeting of the Environmental Policy Committee (EPOC) at Ministerial Level, 29-30 March 2012.

OECD Environment Ministers adopted the OECD Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century on 16 May 2001. The following day, the OECD Meeting of Council at Ministerial level endorsed the Strategy. At our meeting on 29-30 March 2012, we took stock of the progress that we have made over the intervening decade. This followed on from two interim reviews along the way. We submit this report to the OECD Council at Ministerial level on the lessons that can be learned to help guide future action. The Strategy was intended to provide directions for environmentally sustainable policies in OECD Member countries, and to guide the future work of the OECD in the field of environment. Given the multiple and cross-sectoral pressures on the environment, many of the policy actions identified in the Strategy fell outside the responsibility of Environment Ministries. Their implementation depended on a whole-of-government response.

The fundamental objective of the Strategy was to maintain ecosystem integrity, particularly climate, biodiversity and water. Four other objectives were also established: decoupling environmental pressures from economic growth (particularly in the energy, transport and agriculture sectors); improving information for decision-making; enhancing the interface of social and environmental policies; and improving global environmental governance and cooperation. Ten years on we must conclude that the objectives of the Strategy have not been fully achieved. Despite significant improvements on some environmental fronts, it is clear that much work remains. Environmental pressures have not been reduced to the extent needed to maintain ecosystem integrity and to ensure environmentally sustainable development. Although uncertainties remain about environmental thresholds, crossing them would entail real reductions in well-being and welfare. There is an urgent need for more ambitious policies to tackle environmental pressures. But such policies will only be acceptable and effective if they demonstrate that they take full account of economic and social considerations. For this reason, the active engagement of other Ministers will be essential, including those responsible for Finance, Economy and Trade, as well as the private sector, trade unions and NGOs.

The OECD Environmental Strategy is a living document that will continue to provide a reference for the Environment Policy Committee‟s Strategic Vision and guide its priorities. The OECD‟s Green Growth Strategy must now guide us and relevant OECD committees in integrating environmental and economic policies and pursuing green growth objectives.


Reza Ardakanian and Dirk Jaeger (eds.), Water and the Green Economy, Capacity Development Aspects, United Nations University, Water for Life, UN Water, May 2012.

This book consists of 11 chapters that concern global aspects of water as it relates to capacity development.

More and more societies are looking to transfer their economies into green economies. This begs questions such as what are the characteristics of a green economy, and what will it take to accomplish it with respect to capacity development needs within the water supply and sanitation sector?

While the “green economy” concept still needs to be defined and agreed in detail, UNEP’s working definition considers a green economy to be one which results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities: “In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive”.  Furthermore, the green economy approach “seeks, in principle, to unite under a single banner the entire suite of economic policies ... of relevance to sustainable development”.  As such, this approach includes already approved holistic management approaches such as integrated water resources management and combines principles of social inclusiveness, resource and energy efficiency, while assuring biodiversity and sustainable ecosystem services.

In its Green Economy Report, UNEP2 (2011) provides six key messages with respect to water:

1. Water, a basic necessity for sustaining life, goes undelivered to many of the world’s poor.

2. The existing inadequacies in provision of water and sanitation services generate considerable social costs and economic inefficiencies.

3. Continuing current practices will lead to a massive and unsustainable gap between global supply and demand for water withdrawal. This is exacerbated by failure to collect and treat used water to enable subsequent uses.

4. The availability of an adequate quantity of water, of sufficient quality, is a service provided by ecosystems.

5. Accelerated investment in water-dependent ecosystems, in water infrastructure and in water management can be expected to expedite the transition to a green economy.

6. When investment is coupled with improvements in institutional arrangements, entitlement and allocation system, the expansion of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), and the improvement of water charging and finance arrangements, the amount that needs to be invested in water can be reduced significantly.

This book fills a gap in current knowledge when it comes to connecting capacity development, water, and green economy practices. Of particular importance are capacity development practices for knowledge transfer and adaption/adoption; capacity development practices for technology development/adoption/transfer; individual capacity development practices; and institutional capacity development practices.



April 30-May 1: The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recently held a workshop on hydraulic fracturing for extraction of natural gas from shale rock formations. The link to the workshop may be found at, and the series of presentations is on the right-hand side of the page, organized by author last name.

Natural gas extraction from shale rock formations, which includes hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “hydrofracking”), is increasingly in the news as the deployment of the technologies has expanded, rural communities have been transformed overnight, public awareness has increased, and regulations are developed. The expanding use of shale gas extraction across the United States occurs in a context in which there are demands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, desires to decrease dependency on foreign energy, controversies over other energy sources like offshore drilling, nuclear energy, biofuels and the proposed Keystone pipeline, and slower advancements of renewables like wind and solar energy technologies.

Shale gas extraction in the United States is an opportunity because of the existence of thermagenic methane reservoirs in geologic formations such as the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. Formerly inaccessible, the higher cost of petroleum based fuels has motivated efforts to extract and market this methane at depths up to 7,000 feet. Because of the geology of the shale—at depths of at least 100 ft and with gas stored within natural fractures or joints rather than in large pools—conventional gas extraction techniques are not effective. Hydrofracturing utilizes technological advances in horizontal drilling and fracturing techniques. It differs from conventional gas extraction techniques in that it involves: higher volume of fracking fluids (millions of gallons of fluid versus less than 100,000 gallons of fluid) to stimulate gas release; directional drilling to access more natural joints; the use of “slickwater” to allow for pumping over 1.5 to 2.0 miles of horizontal pipe; and multi-well pads. Combining these technologies has made gas extraction from organic-rich shale formations economically feasible in the last 15 years.

Here are some of the presentation titles that relate to sustainable water resources. Use the author last name to see the full presentation on the web site given above. All can be downloaded.

Groat, Chip, Assessing the Perceived and Real Environmental Consequences of Shale Gas Development, University of Texas.

Focazio, Michael, The Geographic Footprint, USGS.

Swackhamer, Deborah L. Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Water Resources, University of Minnesota.

Jackson, Rob, Hydraulic Fracturing, Water Resources, and Human Health, Duke University.

Orme-Zavaleta, Jennifer, EPA Study Plan on the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources: Approach to Study Potential Health Impacts, EPA.


Computing for Sustainable Water Project, World Community Grid, University of Virginia, 2012.,32996

This web link is to a new sustainable water resources project. Welcome to the Computing for Sustainable Water (CFSW) project. This is an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Virginia in the United States. The project will use the resources of the World Community Grid to assess how we might restore and sustain the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the continental United States, covering over 64,000 square miles.
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed covers parts of six Eastern states and the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital, and is home to nearly 17 million persons. As the population of the watershed has increased over the years and become more urbanized, there has been great stress placed on the health of the Bay and its aquatic species. A principal cause of the stress is human activity including agricultural practices, land development, and population growth.

2012: The new India Water Portal is now available at

This web site offers comprehensive information about Indian water resources. News, data, and a directory are all included. A newsletter subscription is offered. User queries and comments are on the right hand side of the display. The included blog may have new papers and reports that are offered for review and comment. A bulletin board and calendar round out the most prominent aspects of this web site.

The Portal is a voluntary effort being coordinated by Arghyam, a non-profit trust that works in the area of water. The Portal is created in a spirit of sharing and openness by a wide range of partners including technical water experts, research institutes, NGOs, government departments, historians, hydro-geologists, IT specialists, educators and others.

The Portal is managed by a dedicated team, including both full-timers working from Arghyam’s office in Bengaluru and a group of consultants distributed across India.

Funding for the Portal is provided by Arghyam.


Government Accountability Office, Information on the Quantity, Quality, and Management of Water Produced During Oil and Gas Production, Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, House of Representatives, GAO-12-156, January 2012.

A significant amount of water is produced daily as a byproduct from drilling of oil and gas. A 2009 Argonne National Laboratory study estimated that 56 million barrels of water are produced onshore every day, but this study may underestimate the current total volume because it is based on limited, and in some cases, incomplete data generated by the states. In general, the volume of produced water generated by a given well varies widely according to three key factors: the hydrocarbon being produced, the geographic location of the well, and the method of production used. For example, some gas wells typically generate large volumes of water early in production, whereas oil wells typically generate less. Generally, the quality of produced water from oil and gas production is poor, and it cannot be readily used for another purpose without prior treatment. The specific quality of water produced by a given well, however, can vary widely according to the same three factors that impact volume—hydrocarbon, geography, and production method.

Oil and gas producers can choose from a number of practices to manage and treat produced water, but underground injection is the predominant practice because it requires little or no treatment and is often the least costly option. According to federal estimates, more than 90 percent of produced water is managed by injecting it into wells that are designated to receive produced water. A limited amount of produced water is disposed of or reused by producers in other ways, including discharging it to surface water, storing it in surface impoundments or ponds so that it can evaporate, irrigating crops, and reusing it for hydraulic fracturing. Managing produced water in these ways can require more advanced treatment methods, such as distillation. How produced water is ultimately managed and treated is primarily an economic decision, made within the bounds of federal and state regulations.

The management of produced water through underground injection is subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control program, which is designed to prevent contamination of aquifers that supply public water systems by ensuring the safe operation of injection wells. Under this program, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the states require producers to obtain permits for their injection wells by, among other things, meeting technical standards for constructing, operating, and testing and monitoring the wells. EPA also regulates the management of produced water through surface discharges under the Clean Water Act. Other management practices, such as disposal of the water into surface impoundments, irrigation, and the reuse of the water for hydraulic fracturing, are regulated by state authorities.

Several federal agencies, including EPA; the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey; and a number of Department of Energy national laboratories, have undertaken research and development efforts related to produced water. These efforts have included sponsoring and issuing studies that describe the volume and quality of produced water, options for managing produced water and associated regulatory issues, as well as options for improving existing technologies for treating produced water and developing new technologies, such as more cost-effective filters.

Year 2011


Amron, Mochammad, Sustainable Water Management, International Workshop on Sustainable Water Management for Agriculture, Bogor, Indonesia, 2011.

This presentation describes the current condition of water resources in Indonesia, followed by how integrated water resources management is implemented in the nation. Challenges to water management are highlighted, with special emphasis on preparedness for drought.


Seperovic, Enes and Alma Imamovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Within the Concept of Transboundary River Basin Management, ISSN 1512-5785, 2011.

Transboundary river basin management is a challenge everywhere in the world. EU Water Framework Directive set principles and objectives of transboundary river basin management for EU member states but usually followed by non-members states sharing with them river basins. Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken direction towards cooperation on transboundary river basin management as member of commissions and signing bilateral agreements. Due to the complex institutional arrangements of water management sector in BH problems, related to the activities within the international bodies such as ICPDR, exist. Recommendations for improvements of transboundary river basin management are dominantly related to the improvements within the country’s water management sector. Understanding and positive attitude towards good cooperation with riparian countries is present in BH.


Azmi, Mohammad, et al, A National-Scale Assessment of Agricultural Development Feasibility Using Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) Approaches, Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences, 5(4): 445-457, 2011.

Problem Oriented Approach in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), requires that outcomes of water resources development be assessed based on water resources sustainability at basin level. In planning models, assessment of options and structural and non-structural actions and plans are also assessable based on the variations of these criteria in view of the current situation. Hence, study and prioritization of options in Iran entails the selection and measurement of water resources sustainability criteria at basin level. Agriculture sector as the world’s main consumer of water has a significant role in water allocation in different countries. In the present study, three multi-criteria decision making methods of AHP, TOPSIS and ELECTRE have been used to rank the feasibility of agricultural development in second order basins of Iran. Next, existing trend of agricultural development will be compared with the obtained rankings of MCDM methods. Results reveal that there are signs of agricultural disharmonious and unsustainable development in some of second order basins of Iran.


International Climate Change Assessments, Federal Agencies Should Improve Reporting and Oversight of U.S. Funding, Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-43, 2011.

GAO recommends that (1) State and NSF coordinate and inform Congress annually with accurate and consistent information on U.S. funding for IPCC and (2) NSF conduct timely project reviews as required by its cooperative agreement. State, NSF, and USGCRP generally concurred with these recommendations.


Slaughter, Andrew, et al, Developing Climate Change Adaptation Measures and Decision Support System for Selected South African Water Boards, Expected Climate Change and Non-Climate Related Changes, Institute for Water Research, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 2011.

The aim of this fifth deliverable is to provide hydrological modeling for the two catchment areas (Amatola system and Caledon River system) and the progress on reducing uncertainty through the use of skill measures for assessing historical rainfall and evapotranspiration outputs of downscaled GCMs, results for WEAP model for quantifying the impacts on water quantity and quality associated with climate change in addition to those due to socio-economic developments, as well as to provide a preliminary outline of the new proposed water quality model.


Sood, Aditya and William F. Ritter, Developing a Framework to Measure Watershed Sustainability by Using Hydrological/Water Quality Model, J. of Water Resource and Protection, 2011,3,788-804.

A framework is built, wherein hydrological/water quality model is used to measure watershed sustainability. For this framework, watershed sustainability has been defined and quantified by defining social, environmental and biodiversity indicators. By providing weights to these indicators, a “River Basin Sustainability Index” is built. The watershed sustainability is then calculated based on the concepts of reliability, resilience and vulnerability.

The framework is then applied to a case study, where, based on watershed management principles, four land use scenarios are created in GIS. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is used as a hydrology/water quality model. Based on the results the land uses are ranked for sustainability and pol-icy implications have been discussed. This results show that land use (both type and location) impact watershed sustainability. The existing land use is weak in environmental sustainability. Also, riparian zones play a critical role in watershed sustainability, although beyond certain width their contribution is not significant.


B. Venkateswarlu, Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies in Rainfed Agriculture, Delhi, Feb. 7-9, 2011.

Climate change impacts on agriculture are being witnessed all over the world, but countries like India are more vulnerable in view of the high population depending on agriculture and excessive pressure on natural resources. The warming trend in India over the past 100 years (1901 to 2007) was observed to be 0.510 C with accelerated warming of 0.21oC per every10 years since 1970.

The projected impacts are likely to further aggravate yield fluctuations of many crops with impact on food security and prices. Cereal productivity is projected to decrease by 10-40% by 2100 and greater loss is expected in rabi. There are already evidences of negative impacts on yield of wheat and paddy in parts of India due to increased temperature, increasing water stress and reduction in number of rainy days.

Modeling studies project a significant decrease in cereal production by the end of this century. Climate change impacts are likely to vary in different parts of the country. Parts of western Rajasthan, Southern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Northern Karnataka, Northern Andhra Pradesh, and Southern Bihar are likely to be more vulnerable in terms of extreme events. For every one degree increase in temperature, yields of wheat, soybean, mustard, groundnut and potato are expected to decline by 3-7%. Similarly, rice yields may decline by 6% for every one degree increase in temperature. Water requirement of crops is also likely to go up with projected warming and extreme events are likely to increase.


Averyt, K., J. Fisher, A. Huber-Lee, A. Lewis, J. Macknick, N. Madden, J. Rogers, and S. Tellinghuisen. Freshwater use by U.S. power plants: Electricity’s thirst for a precious resource. A report of the Energy and Water in a Warming World initiative. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists. November 2011.

This report—the first on power plant water use and related water stress from the Energy and Water in a Warming World initiative—is the first systematic assessment of both the effects of power plant cooling on water resources across the United States and the quality of information available to help public- and private-sector decision makers make water-smart energy choices.

Our analysis starts by profiling the water use characteristics of virtually every electricity generator in the United States. Then, applying new analytical approaches, we conservatively estimate the water use of those generators in 2008, looking across the range of fuels, power plant technologies, and cooling systems. We then use those results to assess the stress that power plant water use placed on water systems across the country.

We also compare our results with those reported by power plant operators to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for 2008. We examine both the withdrawal and consumption of freshwater. Withdrawal is the total amount of water a power plant takes in from a source such as a river, lake, or aquifer, some of which is returned. Consumption is the amount lost to evaporation during the cooling process. Withdrawal is important for several reasons. Water intake systems can trap fish and other aquatic wildlife. Water withdrawn for cooling but not consumed returns to the environment at a higher temperature, potentially harming fish and other wildlife. And when power plants tap  groundwater for cooling, they can deplete aquifers critical for meeting many different needs. Consumption is important because it too reduces the amount of water available for other uses, including sustaining ecosystems.

Climate Change Adaptation, Federal Efforts to Provide Information Could Help Government Decision Making, Government Accountability Office, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senate, Nov. 16, 2011.

This testimony addresses (1) the data challenges that federal, state, and local officials face in their efforts to adapt to a changing climate, (2) the actions federal agencies could take to help address these challenges, and (3) federal climate change strategic planning efforts. The information in this testimony is based on prior work, largely on GAO’s recent reports on climate change adaptation (GAO-10-113) and federal climate change funding (GAO-11-317). These reports are based on, among other things, analysis of studies, site visits to areas pursuing adaptation efforts, and responses to a web-based questionnaire sent to federal, state, and local officials.


International Journal for Sustainable Innovations, Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan. 2011.

This journal issue contains a 13 papers on sustainable innovations. Three relate specifically to water resources, (1) principles and challenges in developing economies, (2) biofuel production and watersheds, (3) clean water sustainability.


Ivana Gudelj, et al, Water and Health: Current Issues on European Level and the Need for Sustainable Water Resources Management, The Holistic Approach to Environment 1 (2011)3, 121-127.

Profound pressure on water resources affects health, the economy and sustainable development. Industrialization, intensification of agriculture and growing populations followed by increases in water demands accentuate the necessity for sufficient high-quality water resources. Conflicts between amount of use and availability, coupled with all the driving forces and pressures on the quality of water resources highlite the need for sustainable management of water resources.


J.-S. Yang, et al, Prioritization of Water Management Under Climate Change and Urbanization Using Multi-Criteria Decision Making Methods, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 8, 9889-9925, 2011.

This paper quantifies the transformed effectiveness of alternatives for watershed management caused by climate change and urbanization and prioritizes five options using multi-criteria decision making techniques. The climate change scenarios (A1B and 5 A2) were obtained by using a statistical downscaling model (SDSM), and the urbanization scenario by surveying the existing urban planning. The flow and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) concentration duration curves were derived, and the numbers of days required to satisfy the environmental flow requirement and the target BOD concentration were counted using the Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran (HSPF) 10 model. In addition, five feasible alternatives were prioritized by using multi-criteria decision making techniques, based on the driving force-pressure-state-impact-response (DPSIR) framework and cost component. Finally, a sensitivity analysis approach for MCDM methods was conducted to reduce the uncertainty of weights. The result indicates that the most sensitive decision criterion is cost, followed by criteria response, 15 driving force, impact, state and pressure in that order. Since it is certain that the importance of cost component is over 0.127, use of the groundwater collected by subway stations will be the most preferred alternative in this application. All applications are carried out on watersheds in Korea.


Ory Zik and Nalin Kulatilaka, The Sustainability Babel Fish, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011.

This paper proposes an intuitive energy vocabulary that enables sustainability decisions to be made in a quantitative manner across different domains such as fuel, electricity, and water.

Burke, Sophia, et al, Migration and Global Environmental Change: Quantifying Change in Ecosystem Services and Exposure to Hazards in the Mediterranean Basin Over the Next 50 Years That Might Be Relevant to Migration, Kings College London, UK, Oct. 2011.

This report examines the environmental drivers of migration in the Mediterranean, with particular focus on the role of ecosystem services and the impact of environmental hazards as potential push and pull factors. Environmental drivers are just one set of potential drivers for migration described in the Foresight ‘drivers of migration’ pentagon alongside demographic, social, political and economic drivers. In the complex and diverse Mediterranean political, social and economic landscapes, environmental drivers rarely work in isolation of the other drivers, except in rare cases of migration forced by hazard.

Nevertheless, environment plays a part and so we must consider how environmental drivers help to define the ecosystem services and disservices (such as hazards) that might combine with political, social and economic factors to provide push or pull conditions which then encourage migration. Moreover, the environment is rarely static and, given pressures on the global environment in general and the Mediterranean environment in particular, we need to analyze how ecosystem service provision and hazardscapes might change in the future and what the potential implications of such change might be for encouraging particular types of migration.

The substantial role of non-environmental drivers (i.e. politics, social, cultural and economic factors) is covered by a separate report.

Mehan, G. Tracy III, The Business of Water: It is Time to Embrace a New Model for Water Services, Bureau of National Affairs, 2011.

Water utilities in America are facing the sobering truth that there is nowhere else to turn other than to a model of business self-sufficiency for the financial and technical resources necessary to carry out their mission, according to G. Tracy Mehan III, the author of this article. He says that in a strange twist of fate, water utilities must become more business-like in how they value their water, wastewater, and more critically, their very sophisticated and capital-intensive services. They will have to manage water demand as much as water supply, and price the resources effectively while accounting for the poor and needy within their service areas.

This article is written in conjunction with the Second Annual Water Resources Summit, ‘‘Sustaining Our Nation’s Water Resources Summit—Answering the Call for Stewardship,’’ sponsored by The Horinko Group. This event will be held Oct. 25 in College Park, Md., and will focus on governance, advocacy, and the business of water, the latter panel to be moderated by the author.


Asthana, Vandana and A.C. Shukla, The Logistics of Developmental and Water Governance in India, Prepared for the Fourth Annual Critical Studies Conference, Sept. 7-11, 2011.

This paper covers water policy in the region of Delhi in India. There are many policy pressures associated with production processes that have resulted from globalization. In addition to the concept of planned intervention to form policy, it is important to study the result of overlap among local, sub-national, national, and global scales as well as how inclusion or exclusion affects water policy. The interaction among all these levels helps to determine how a particular version of water policy achieves legitimacy. A close examination of these interactions aids in understanding how power mediates policy processes. In this view, water policy is largely about how actions determine the possibility of change in what the actors do. Therefore, making water policy involves the application of expertise and institutional techniques that affect how water is used.


De Villiers, Marq, et al, Water Wars of the Near Future, and other subjects, blog entries during 2004-2006.

Although these blog discussions are not new, they cover a wide variety of water related subjects, and are both stimulating and thought provoking. Readers may not agree with the opinions expressed by the writers of the blog, but the ideas expressed are sure to impel one to form his own opinion about the subjects under discussion. A number of contributors wrote these entries during the 2004-2006 period, but the concepts are current, and many of the problems discussed have not been addressed.


Elkassar, Gamal and Nahla Abou El-Fotouh, Promotion of Water Saving Policies and Options for Water Use in Improved Areas in Egypt, Options Mediterrannées, A n° 98, 2011 ─ Dialogues on Mediterranean water challenges: Rational water use, water price versus value and lessons learned from the European Water Framework Directive.

The problem of water scarcity is complex, as it includes climate change, desertification, as well as increased demand by different water user sectors. The concept of sustainable water use is based on three main issues, economic efficiency, social equity and environmental integrity. The vision of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation is that a new approach of water management is needed to consider the diverse range of resource-use features and its interactions to elaborate sustainable water resources management strategies. The study presented here concentrates on these aspects in general and gives some findings on water saving options in the improved areas of Egypt. It reflects on the actual approaches to water saving strategies. Therefore the current state of water management policies, indicator development and participation approaches was investigated. The implementation of an effective integrated strategy or policy for water management, and water saving, needs also to be based on a comprehensive and integrated assessment of the water bodies. At the same time, successful practices of water use need to be disseminated. It is essential to enable a quantification and qualification of system aspects for successful evaluation.


Tenhunen, John, et al, TERRECO: A Flux-Based Approach to Understanding Landscape Change, Potentials of Resilience and Sustainability in Ecosystem Services, 2011 TERRECO Science Conference October 2 – 7, 2011; Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The Millenium Assessment has provided a broad perspective on the ways and degree to which global change has stressed ecosystems and their potential to deliver goods and services to mankind. Management of natural resources at regional scale requires a clear understanding of the ways that ongoing human activities modify or create new system stressors, leading to net gains or losses in ecosystem services.

Ever since information from the International Biological Program (IBP) was summarized in the 1960s, we know that ecosystem stress response, recovery and resilience are related to changes in ecosystem turnover of materials, nutrient retention or loss, resource use efficiencies, and additional ecosystem properties that determine fluxes of carbon, water and nutrients (Odum 1969, 1985). At landscape or regional scale, changes in system drivers influence land-surface to atmosphere gas exchange (water, carbon and trace gas emissions), the seasonal course of soil resource stores, hydrology, and transport of nutrients and carbon into and through river systems. In today’s terminology, shifts in these fluxes indicate a modification of potential ecosystem services provided to us by the landscape or region of interest, and upon which we depend.

Ongoing modeling efforts of the TERRECO project (DFG GRK1565) carried out in S. Korea focus on describing landscape and regional level flow networks for carbon, water, and nutrients, but in addition monetary flows associated with gains and losses in ecosystem services. The description is embedded within a framework which examines the trade-offs between agricultural intensification versus yield of high quality water to reservoirs for drinking water supply. The models also quantify hypothetical changes in flow networks that would occur in the context of climate, land use and social change scenarios.


Mwakalila, Shadrack, Vulnerability of Peoples Livelihoods to Water Resources Availability in Semi Arid Areas of Tanzania, Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 2011, 3, 678-685 doi:10.4236/jwarp.2011.39078 Published Online September 2011 (

In semi-arid areas of Tanzania vulnerability context is depicted as the starting component for policy process analysis through the sustainable livelihood approach. Giving vulnerability a high prominence in this analysis allowed the research to consider all kinds of vulnerabilities as central issues to the ways in which livelihoods are shaped. Hence the Sustainable Livelihood framework was used in this research as the comprehensive framework for assessing the contributing factors to limited water resources availability to sustain people’s livelihoods. The study revealed that, changes in the quantity, timing, intensity and duration of rainfall as a result of climate change contributes to greater water stress and making people more vulnerable. Due to over-abstraction upstream of the Great Ruaha River, it implies that, people depending on the water resources downstream of the Great Ruaha River catchment are vulnerable. Their livelihoods are at risks as they don’t have water for irrigation and other economic activities. The study also revealed that, both vulnerability and livelihood strategies are derived through natural water availability which features droughts, climate change and the link between water availability, agricultural production, and outcomes.

Beck, M B (2011), Cities as Forces for Good in the Environment: Sustainability in the Water Sector, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia (ISBN: 978-1-61584-248-4).

What was unprecedented about the final decade or so of the 20th Century was not so much the pace of change in technology — which supposedly is always “unprecedented” — but our collective willingness to question whether Man had got his relationship with the Environment “about right”. It was as though the rarity of the approach of a new millennium had evoked just as uncommon and profound a questioning, no less so for water professionals and environmental engineers than for people from all manner of other walks of life.

This Sustainability Concepts Paper is marked by that experience. Having become used to decades of the water-based paradigm, for removing the biological residuals of the city’s metabolism and returning them to the aquatic environment, we had ceased to question what might otherwise have been — had the water closet not been so successful at some critical juncture in the competitive technological stakes of the mid-19th Century. The Paper takes this experience of the “great sustainability debate” of the 1990s, first to record the role of customary environmental engineering therein — almost its fall from grace by default — and, second, to set out a vision and challenge for it.

Hipel, Keith, et al, Water Resources in Canada: A Strategic Viewpoint, Report to the Inter American National Academies of Science, 2011.

All levels of government in Canada should adopt an adaptive, integrative and participatory approach to water governance from a systems thinking perspective for proactively addressing existing strategic water problems as well as unforeseen difficulties that will arise in the future. In consultation with all levels of government and key stakeholders, Canada should develop a comprehensive national water policy that reflects the values of Canadians and has precedence over international trading agreements. Because of its vastness and the rich diversity of climate regions and ecosystems, Canada has many regional water problems to solve such as melting glaciers in the Rocky Mountains, droughts in the Prairies, high water demand in the oil sands, flooding in Manitoba, fluctuating water levels and pollution in the Great Lakes, expanded hydroelectric power developments in northern Quebec and Labrador, and the threat of water exports, especially from the Great Lakes. A wide variety of challenging water related problems to tackle occur in many regions of Canada: groundwater overexploitation, contaminants of emerging concern, brownfield prevention and redevelopment, bottled water, and the increasing negative impacts of climate change. Accordingly, specific recommendations are put forward for achieving enlightened water governance in Canada as well as internationally. Moreover, connected governance innovations related to climate change, energy and trade are also formulated.


Ximing Cai, et al, Can Water Allocation in the Yellow River Basin Be Improved?, International Food Policy Research Institute, Discussion Paper 01117, 2011.

In 1999, the Government of China enforced a cross-provincial, quota-based Water Allocation Agreement that was developed in 1987 and titled Unified Water Flow Regulation (UWFR) to ensure that flow to the Yellow River mouth would not be cut off. This policy was in line with the refocus of the Government, over the last decade, on sustainable water use and keeping the Yellow River healthy. The policy enforcement ended more than two decades of flow-cutoffs, that is, periods when the Yellow River did not reach the Bohai Sea at its mouth, during an increasing number of days every year. While the UWFR was an important step forward in protecting the water resources in Northern China, the allocation did not take into account the value of water in various uses and water users who had to give up water resources, chiefly irrigators in the upstream and midstream provinces were not compensated. Could alternative water management options have brought about a better outcome for irrigators and the downstream ecosystem? We analyze this question using a Multi-Agent System (MAS) modeling framework for the Yellow River Basin (YRB). We find that compared to the baseline scenario simulating UWFR management, water trading among irrigation districts would result in a small decline in water consumption, a significant increase in agricultural GDP, and a small increase in total basin GDP. Overall GDP increase would be much higher if domestic and industrial uses became active water trading sectors.


Varela-Ortega, Consuelo, Participatory Modeling for Sustainable Development in Water and Agrarian Systems: Potential and Limits of Stakeholder Involvement, EAAE 2011 Congress, Change and Uncertainty, Zurich, Switzerland, 2011.

Public participation is increasingly advocated as a necessary feature of natural resources management. The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) is such an example, as it prescribes participatory processes as necessary features in basin management plans. The rationale behind this mandate is that involving interest groups ideally yields higher-quality decisions, which are arguably more likely to meet public acceptance. Furthermore, failing to involve stakeholders in policy-making might hamper the implementation of management initiatives, as controversial decisions can lead pressure lobbies to generate public opposition.

A common approach to public participation is to hold open meetings for groups or individuals to provide input. While these strategies have been used for decades, they are not necessarily sufficient for some processes as they are frequently biased towards the interests of participants of well-organized place-based groups. Hence, public participation has developed into an expanding body of knowledge that comprises a variety of techniques and practices. For instance, wherever significant uncertainties exist ongoing stakeholder participation might be needed to address management and governance problems adequately. Joint involvement of water managers, stakeholders and experts may in turn require decision support tools that build on transparency and flexibility to reach sound action plans and instruments.

While participatory processes should ideally empower participants to have a direct impact on policy, this can be difficult in regions where a participatory tradition is lacking. This is particularly true if competing uses make the setting at hand a conflicting one. Following upon this argument, this paper explores the role of an informal public participation process held in the Upper Guadiana basin, Spain. It is hypothesized that informal, non-binding fora might provide valuable additions to conflictive contexts, not only contributing to broaden the knowledge about the basin under consideration, but also facilitating adaptation to socio-economic and environmental challenges.


Plan Bleu, Water Use Efficiency and Economic Approach, National Study Egypt, July 2011.

This report presents inputs and contribution from the country of Egypt towards international efforts for the region. It comprises an attempt to assess the efficiency of water use at the national scale for three main subsectors of the water sector, namely: the agricultural sector, the municipal sector, and the industrial sector. Best estimates for the water efficiency index, based on collected data and existing national water-related strategies, are calculated. National water saving potential and efficiency improvement objectives are evaluated along with projected expenses and corresponding savings.


Victor Pochat, International Agreements, Institutions and Projects in La Plata River Basin, International Journal of Water Resources Development, 27:3, 497-510, 2011.

La Plata River basin is one of the most important river systems in the world, mainly due to its degree of development. In 1967, the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee of La Plata Basin Countries (CIC) was established and, two years later, the riparian countries signed the La Plata Basin Treaty, broadly comprehensive regarding its competence, as well as a framework agreement which has facilitated the implementation of numerous bilateral or multilateral agreements that characterize the current state of co-operation. Since the 1990s, with support from international organizations, a number of projects—at sub-basin or river level—have been carried out, and, in 2001, the development of a Framework Programme for the La Plata basin was agreed. The strengthening of CIC in order to foster synergies among the different institutions and projects towards an integrated basin management approach is expected.


Government Accountability Office, Chesapeake Bay, Restoration Effort Needs Common Federal and State Goals and Assessment Approach, GAO-11-802, 2011.

GAO was directed by the explanatory statement of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, to conduct performance assessments of progress made on bay restoration, and this first assessment examines (1) the extent to which the Strategy includes measurable goals for restoring the bay that are shared by stakeholders and actions to attain these goals; (2) the key factors, if any, federal and state officials identified that may reduce the likelihood of achieving Strategy goals and actions; and (3) agency plans for assessing progress made in implementing the Strategy and restoring bay health.


Government Accountability Office, Environmental Health, Action Needed to Sustain Agencies’ Collaboration on Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water, GAO-11-346, 2011.

Pharmaceuticals may enter drinking water supplies from several pathways, including discharge from wastewater facilities. GAO was asked to provide information on the (1) extent to which pharmaceuticals occur in drinking water and their effects, if any, on human health; (2) U.S. and other countries’ approaches to reducing their occurrence; and (3) challenges, if any, that EPA faces in determining whether to regulate pharmaceuticals.


Blanco-Gutierrez, Irene, et al, Integrated Economic-Hydrologic Analysis of Policy Responses to Promote Sustainable Water Use Under Changing Climatic Conditions, 2011 EAAE Congress, Change and Uncertainty, Zurich, Switzerland, 2011.

Water is a vital resource, but also a critical limiting factor for economic and social development in many parts of the world. The recent rapid growth in human population and water use for social and economic development is increasing the pressure on water resources and the environment, as well as leading to growing conflicts among competing water use sectors (agriculture, urban, tourism, industry) and regions. In Spain, as in many other arid and semi-arid regions affected by drought and wide climate variability, irrigated agriculture is responsible for most consumptive water use and plays an important role in sustaining rural livelihoods. Historically, the evolution of irrigation has been based on publicly-funded irrigation development plans that promoted economic growth and improved the socio-economic conditions of rural farmers in agrarian Spain, but increased environmental damage and led to excessive and inefficient exploitation of water resources.

The present study analyzes the effects of national and European water policies under normal and dry climate conditions, using a novel hydro-economic model based on the integration of a multiscale economic optimization model and a hydrology water management simulation model built in WEAP. Application of the model was carried out in the Middle Guadiana basin, a surface irrigated area located on the south-western of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain.


Liu Shao, Water Pricing Towards Sustainability of Water Resources; A Case Study in Beijing, J. of Environmental Sciences, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2002.

Huang, Qunying, Utilizing Model Interoperability and Spatial Cloud Computing to Enable the Computability of Dust Storm Forecasting, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 2011.

Both environmental and human challenges, such as deforestation and desertification, require scientifically sound simulations of physical phenomena to better understand the past and to better predict future trends for improved decision support. However, many scientific problems cannot be processed using a single computer and require computing capability from many distributed computers. The problems should be solved by interdisciplinary efforts instead of by a single science community. Using dust storm forecasting as a case study, the study investigates how interoperability technologies can facilitate data access service, model input integration, model coupling, and output utilization and dissemination.


Government Accountability Office, Climate Engineering, Technical Status, Future Directions, and Potential Responses, A report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, House of Representatives, GAO-11-71, 2011.

Reports of rising global temperatures have raised questions about responses to climate change, including efforts to (1) reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, (2) adapt to climate change, and (3) design and develop climate engineering technologies for deliberate, large-scale intervention in Earth’s climate.


Government Accountability Office, Hazardous Waste, Early Goals Have Been Met in EPA’s Corrective Action Program, but Resource and Technical Challenges Will Constrain Future Progress, A report to the Honorable Edward J. Markey, House of Representatives, GAO-11-514, 2011.

GAO was asked by Representative Markey, in his former capacity as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, to assess this program. This report discusses (1) actions EPA has taken to establish goals for the program and expedite cleanup; (2) the progress EPA, states, and facilities have made in meeting these goals; and (3) the challenges EPA, states, and facilities face, if any, in meeting future cleanup goals. GAO reviewed and analyzed EPA documents and data and interviewed EPA and state agency officials and stakeholder groups.


Government Accountability Office, Impacts of Potential Oil Shale Development on Water Resources, Testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives, GAO-11-929T, 2011.

GAO’s testimony is based on its October 2010 report on the impacts of oil shale development (GAO-11-35). This testimony summarizes (1) what is known about the potential impacts of oil shale development on surface water and groundwater, (2) what is known about the amount of water that may be needed for commercial oil shale development, (3) the extent to which water will likely be available for such development and its source, and (4) federal research efforts to address impacts to water resources from commercial oil shale development. For its October 2010 report, GAO reviewed studies and interviewed water experts, officials from federal and state agencies, and oil shale industry representatives


Stucki, Virpi, In Search of Integration, Analyzing the Gap Between Theory and Practice of Integrated Water Resources Management With Case Studies from West Africa and International Policy Processes, Aalto University, School of Engineering, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Espoo, Finland, 2011.

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is one example of integrated approach to natural resources management that has been widely promoted during the past decades. In this thesis, IWRM is understood as a strategic management procedure that integrates the natural resources and society (users and institutions) around a body of water. Numerous international conferences and meetings have promoted IWRM as a key approach to water management and subsequently a way to sustainable development. Yet, practical implementation of IWRM on the ground has had uneven success.


Abbaspour, Somaya, Water Quality in Developing Countries, South Asia, South Africa, Water Quality Management and Activities that Cause Water Pollution, 2011 International Conference on Environmental and Agricultural Engineering, IACSIT Press, Singapore, 2011.

There are many water quality problems in both developing and developed countries. Of all the environmental concerns that developing countries face, the lack of adequate water of good quality is probably the most serious. The sustainable management of water quality has policy, technical, institutional and financial components. In many developing countries restricted funding is usually combined with fragile or unstable institutions and limited technical capabilities to deal with an expanding range of water quality problems. At the technical level, there has been great progress in western nations in developing more cost effective monitoring, analytical protocols, and assessment methods. This flows not only from better scientific knowledge, but also from recognition that conventional monitoring programs are inefficient, expensive, and often not very useful. Regrettably, financial institutions and ODA programs tend to reinforce conventional approaches in developing countries with the result that these countries have little opportunity to develop a new, more appropriate and more sustainable data paradigm. In lesser developed countries where public health is the major concern, the traditional model of a centralized monitoring program often does not work, suggesting that a new model of decentralized community-based monitoring would be more effective.


Bandeth, ROS, LY Tem, and Anna Thompson, Catchment Governance and Cooperation Dilemmas: A Case Study from Cambodia, CDRI Policy Brief 2011, No. 9.

     A catchment or river basin refers to an area of land that is drained by a single river and its tributaries. Integral to the health of a catchment are elements such as soil, water, wildlife and vegetation, all of which form a life support ecosystem. Modern global catchment governance policy has turned to the theory of Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) in the last three decades. Such policy is soon to be introduced in Cambodia as a means to achieve sustainable water resources management at catchment level. This approach recognizes the importance of cooperation between all stakeholders within a catchment, based on the perspective that a catchment is a relevant territorial space which cuts across pre-existing administrative boundaries containing different groups of users and governance systems.


Coulibaly, Naga, An Opensource GIS Tool for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in a Basin, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, 2011.

Challenges faced by more and more countries in their struggle for economic and social development are increasingly related to water. Growth in population, increased economic activity and improved standards of living lead to increased competition for and conflicts over the limited freshwater resource. Also, water pollution is inherently connected with human activities linked to domestic, agricultural and industrial wastes. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process which can assist countries in their endeavor to deal with water issues in a cost-effective and sustainable way.

This study aims to design a prototype of Decision Support System (DSS) using free and open source software which allows management and analysis of current and historical data for a sustainable management of water resource in a drainage basin. Specifically it is to collect water resources, socio-economic and environmental data, design and implement a database and create a Spatial Decision Support System for water management.


Maskey, Stuty, Using the Advocacy Coalition Framework to Understand Challenges in Urban Water Policy Reforms: A Case Study of the Melamchi Water Supply Project in Nepal, Oregon State University, 2011.

The Himalayan mountain range is one of the world’s largest sources of fresh water, and Nepal, situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, is endowed with ample water resources. In spite of this water abundance, drinking water supply in many parts of the country is inadequate, particularly in the capital, Kathmandu Valley. For a long time now, Kathmandu residents have been struggling with an increasing urban water shortage. In 2000, as a part of the urban water sector reform program, the Government of Nepal (GoN) entered into a loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to construct the multimillion dollar Melamchi Water Supply Project.

This Project provides a sound case study to understand urban water policy challenges in Nepal. This muchhyped project has been mired in controversy ever since its inception and subsequent loanagreement. The development of the project was halted due to numerous controversies ranging from charges of social injustice to environmental concerns, and the project deadline has been revised more than three times.

This paper analyzes how differences in beliefs and values lead to the formation of conflicting coalitions that stand firm to protect their core beliefs. By applying the Advocacy Coalition Framework, this paper then examines how coalitions interact, negotiate, reorganize, and adapt to changing policy conditions, to survive and to advance the policy making process.


BP Barber, Water Resources Master Plan for the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission, Laurens, South Carolina, 2011.

Located between Greenville and Columbia, Laurens County is in a position to benefit economically from its location in the upstate of South Carolina. To take advantage of potential economic opportunities, the County will need adequate water and wastewater systems to support potential growth. The resources required to effectively operate these systems will need to be developed and managed properly to maintain a high quality of life for the residents of the County.  To provide guidance for sustainable development and management of the County’s Water Resources, the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission (LCWSC) authorized BP Barber to assist with preparation of a Water Resources Master Plan. This report documents the work, findings, and recommendations developed as part of this planning process. An overview of each Section in the report is provided in this Executive Summary.


Nelson, Robert H., The New Holy Wars, Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011, Book Review by G. Tracy Mehan III.

Excerpt: The author “aims to deconstruct modern economics and the environmental movement, purporting to reveal them as literal religions. These are attenuated Protestant sects, “Calvinism minus God,” complete with a Creation story, Garden of Eden, the Fall, and a path to Salvation.”  The review also includes a discussion of the 2005 documentary /Grizzly Man/ by the German director Werner Herzog which might involve another kind of “secular theology” as described by Nelson.

Government Accountability Office, Climate Change Adaptation, Aligning Funding with Strategic Priorities, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate, GAO-11-876T, 2011.

This testimony addresses (1) the actions federal, state, and local authorities are taking to adapt to climate change; (2) the challenges that federal, state, and local officials face in their efforts to adapt and actions federal agencies could take to help address these challenges; and (3) the extent to which federal funding for adaptation and other climate change activities is consistently tracked and reported and aligned with strategic priorities. The information in this testimony is based on prior work, largely on GAO’s recent reports on climate change adaptation and federal climate change funding.

Osuna, Andrea Rodriguez, Adaptation Funding to Climate Change under the Global Environment Facility: An Analysis of Bolivia’s Adaptation Projects, Uppsala University, 2010

Adaptation finance has recently become an essential component to address international climate change impacts. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the main mechanism providing financial adaptation assistance from developed to developing countries. Under this mechanism, Bolivia figures as the country with more projects than any other eligible country, giving the impression that Bolivia receives favorable treatment when resources are allocated. This study analyzes the process by which Bolivia receives funding for adaptation projects using the principle of good governance and elements of accountability, fairness and effectiveness in the allocation of resources, to understand how such adaptation projects are granted.


Rezaian, Sahar, et al, Water Consumption Management using WEAP&Conceptual Models, Case Study: Golestan Province, Iran, 2011 2nd International Conference on Environmental Science and Development, Singapore

Iran is located among the world’s arid and semiarid lands climatically, so its water consumption management is of vital importance. Golestan province as one of the important poles of Iran’s farming and agricultural products is not excluded and in terms of water supply has not a desirable situation. Due to over pumping and reduction in precipitation, groundwater reserves have not been in satisfactory condition. Exploitation of surface water does not conform to any management principle as well. On the other hand due to population growth, development of agricultural and industrial activities, as well as decreasing trend of water resources, setting up a principled approach for water consumption is an undeniable fact. In this study, water supply sources were identified in various parts of the region. Consequently, the role of major water consumption sections in the quantitative change of water resources was determined. Finally the obtained results were used to project the conceptual model for quantitative changes of water resources in order to achieve sustainable development in different parts of this province. The result of the conceptual model shows that about 371.51million cubic meters of water in Golestan province is lost due to lack of adequate reserves. On the other hand, reviews of different management scenarios indicated that the problem of water shortages in this province cannot be resolved alone with construction of new dams. Meanwhile a modified consumption pattern is considered as an effective and complementary step in sustainable water consumption management.


Kragt, Marit E., et al, How Integrative Modeling Can Break Down Disciplinary Silos, University of Western Australia, Working Paper 1121, Crawley, Australia, 2011

Effective management of environmental systems requires assessments of multiple (physical, ecological, and socio-economic) issues and integration of knowledge from various disciplinary experts. Integrative research faces widely acknowledged theoretical and practical challenges. In this paper, we argue that model development aimed at integrating multidisciplinary inputs can overcome many of these difficulties. Environmental models can act as a shared goal and provide a framework for successful integrative research. Modellers often have the more generalist background and overarching perspective required to develop a shared understanding of a system. Modellers are therefore well-placed to facilitate integrative processes. We discuss the challenges of integrative research and discuss how modellers, and model development, can facilitate successful integration through: definition of common research questions and objectives; conceptual modelling; identification of project participants; aligning terminologies; and stressing the importance of communication and trust.

Hydraulic Fracturing, IWA Water Wiki, London, UK, 2011 

This online article covers the whole process of hydraulic fracturing, used for the recovery of natural gas from shale rock. The contents include method, environmental and health effects, lawsuits, regulation, chemical constituents used, and other topics. Commentary is included from consultants and the Ground Water Protection Council.


Mehan, G. Tracy III, A Symphonic Approach to Water Management: The Quest for New Models of Watershed Governance, J. of Land Use and Environmental Law, Florida State University, 2010

While the largest of the nation’s watersheds will be governed according to their own tailor-made ways, the most common, logical means of effectuating a symphonic watershed governance model across the country is through the instrumentality of water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities that need to assume a greater leadership role in their respective home watersheds.  This requires that utility managers redefine their roles in terms of watershed protection, community involvement, and facilities management. Simply managing a facility is no longer sufficient. The problem extends far beyond their immediate service area to the entire basin, catchment, drainage or watershed.



Hussain, Ijaz, Water Demand Management and Economic Value of Water in the Indus Basin, Department of Economics, University of Sargodha, Pakistan, 2007

The present study was conducted on Water Demand Management and Economic Value of Water in the Indus Basin. To fulfill the objective of the study secondary and primary data sets were used. The primary data for study was collected through a farm survey of nearly 120 farmers on distributaries in Sargodha district. The data for supply and demand was taken from secondary sources. The sources include but not limited to the Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan, 2005-06, Economic Survey, 2006, the Water and Power Development Authority. The crop yield stress data was taken from Mona Reclamation project and Punjab Agriculture Research Institute, Faisalabad. Water supply and demand was estimated by using water balance equations.

In order to calculate the Economic Value of Irrigation Water residual imputation approach was used. The change in net income method can be adapted to mathematical programming models (LP model) of farm situations to approximate a functional relationship between net benefits and irrigation water use .


Waslekar, S., The Blue Peace, Rethinking Middle East Water, Strategic Foresight Group, C-306, Mumbai, India, 2011.

The issue of access to water resources, particularly in lean seasons, will impact the way political relations and alliances are framed in the future, even more significantly than it already does. The costs of failing to manage water are counted in terms of poverty, conflict, impaired growth and lost biodiversity. New political behavioral norms and processes are emerging. What was common sense and vision in the past is no longer the case. What can be agreed upon today and tomorrow is not the same as before. The conditions have changed in a way that the solutions of the past are not effective anymore. The rules of the game are evolving at an unprecedented speed. The response is not easy. It is all about fostering a new diplomacy, the “blue diplomacy” with the objective of fostering the blue peace.

Full Report: 

Presentation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace with video:


Ritzma, H.P., Adapting to Climate Change: Examples from the Netherlands, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, the Netherlands, 2011. 

In the Netherlands, adaptation measures focus on the water management system as well as the spatial planning. The selection of adaptation measures mainly depends on the type of land use. For the three major types of land types, i.e. the low-lying peatlands in the western part of the country, the higher sandy soil areas in the east and southeast and the marine clay areas in the reclaimed polder areas, adaptation measures, for both agriculture and nature, adaption strategies are discussed are discussed.


Mahmud-ul-Islam, S., Land Use Change Detection of the Buriganga River (Bangladesh) Using GIS Tools and its Water Management for Promoting a Sustainable Environment, ISSN 1651-064X, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, 2011.

This research work recommends promoting a sustainable environment in the Dhaka city area and healthier life for its inhabitants. It is essential to save the surrounding river system especially the Buriganga River. An integrated river basin organization is highly necessary to implement an IWRM approach to save the river. The present study reveals that a governmental weak institutional setup and lack of enforcement of existing laws and policy are the main obstructions to saving the Buriganga River.


Glassman, Diana, et al, The Water-Energy Nexus, Adding Water to the Energy Agenda, World Policy Institute, March 2011.





To enhance the quality of discussion and decision-making on the water-energy nexus, this policy paper provides the context needed to evaluate key tradeoffs. We present a comprehensive, user friendly guide to the most credible available data about water consumption per unit of energy produced across a spectrum of traditional and alternative energy technologies. We identify data holes and important issues that merit further attention. We also have created a glossary to help non-experts decipher energy jargon.

Based on existing data, the most startling finding is that (with some notable exceptions) both traditional and existing alternative energy technologies are evolving toward higher water consumption per unit of energy produced.

Both emerging petroleum and alternative transportation fuels consume more water than conventional petroleum-based fuels:

Petroleum from the Canadian oil sands extracted via surface mining techniques can consume 20 times more water than conventional oil drilling. As a specific example of an underlying data weakness, this figure excludes the increasingly important steam-assisted gravity drainage technique (SAGD) method. We encourage future researchers to fill this hole.

Irrigated first-generation soy- and corn-based biofuels can consume thousands of times more water than traditional oil drilling, primarily through irrigation. More research is needed to evaluate second and third generation biofuels. 

The picture on electricity generation is mixed:

Among conventional power plants, gas-fired plants consume the least amount of water per unit of energy produced. Coal- and oil-fired plants consume roughly twice as much water as gas-fired plants. Nuclear consumes approximately three times as much. The nuclear figure may seem surprisingly low in light of the public debate around nuclear water; this reflects frequent confusion between water withdrawal (which tends to be much higher) and water consumption. More research is needed on contemplated future projects including modular nuclear energy. 

One of the “cleaner” coal technologies, the integrated gasification combined cycle process, reduces a coal plant’s water consumption by half, while also reducing carbon emissions and other pollutants. However, contemplated carbon capture technologies could increase a coal plant’s water consumption by 30%-100%. 

Wind and solar photovoltaic electricity consume minimal water and are the most water efficient forms of conventional or alternative electricity production. 

The installed base of the solar thermal form of electricity generation (as opposed to photovoltaic) consumes twice as much water as coal and five times as much as gas-fired power plants. 

Natural gas produced by a technique called hydraulic fracturing is a game-changer that could alter the entire energy mix of transportation fuels and electricity generation. The main water issue here involves pollution, which is beyond the scope of this paper; however, additional research is needed on consumption, particularly in order to reflect substantial changes in the technology and its application to oil. Current data indicate that natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing consumes seven times more water than conventional gas extraction but roughly the same amount of water as conventional oil drilling.


2011: Water Use for Electricity Generation and Other Sectors: Recent Changes (1985-2005) and Future Projections (2005-2030), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Product ID 1023676, November 10, 2011.

 Go to, and enter 1023676 in the search field of the page.

EPRI has just published this report, which uses the most current data to frame freshwater availability/water resource sustainability across the U.S and across all water using sectors. The report also includes several scenarios to frame how the issue may develop over the next 25 years. This is a framing study which identifies potential geographical areas of concern and explores trends and interrelationships among the water using sectors. More refined analyses are needed to evaluate alternative water management plans for specific localities. As with all analyses of this nature, there are multiple assumptions and caveats; hence, one should read the text to fully understand what these are before citing figures or tables.


2011: Bekiroglu, Sultan, and Omer Eker, The Importance of Forests in a Sustainable Supply of Drinking Water: Istanbul Example, African Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 6(7), pp. 1794-1801, 4 April 2011.

Istanbul has administrative, social and economic, drinking water problems. The forest areas of Istanbul are more important to drinking water than any other of the forest’s activities, because most of the drinking water dams are located in forest areas. This study is aimed at determining the differences between past and present forestry applications concerning drinking water production in Istanbul for a 600 year period. 

The level of future drinking water problems in Istanbul was also estimated. Using descriptive analysis method similarities and differences between past and present forestry applications in producing drinking water were identified. Furthermore, the trend of Istanbul’s water demand and supply for the 2010 and 2030 term was also predicted with a scenario.

This study indicates that Istanbul city has historically experienced drinking water and forest resources shortages. In the past administrators were very keen to conserve forest areas and drinking water resources for the city. Various regulations to protect and improve the utilization of water resources have been created throughout the history of Istanbul. These measures today are not as effective as they once were which causes exploitation and destruction of water resources.


2011: Bassi, Andrea, et al, An Integrated Assessment of Investments Towards Global Water Sustainability, Water 2010, 2, 726-741, ISSN 2073-4441.

To date there has been limited research on integrated water resource management from a global perspective. This paper gives an overview of current and impending water problems while assessing the investment needs for integrated water management as a possible solution to projected water challenges. The analysis compares a business as usual case to a scenario in which investments improve water efficiency use across sectors to curb demand, increase innovative supply from desalination, and enhance conventional water resource management measures. Systems dynamics modeling is employed to represent the structural factors in the context of an integrated framework including cross-sectoral linkages. The analysis concludes that water sustainability is feasible, but would require investments in the range of $145 billion per year between 2011 and 2050, and timely, effective action.


2011: Gober, Patricia, Desert Urbanization and the Challenges of Water Sustainability, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2010,2:144-150, Elservier.

Arid regions and their cities are vulnerable to future water scarcity because climate change threatens to reduce supply and rapid growth increases demand. The study of water sustainability in these regions and cities transcends concern about these topics, and includes the dynamics of water-energy relationships, tradeoffs involved in the use of irrigated landscaping for temperature control, and feedbacks between urban growth, the economy, and the environment. It requires analysis of how complex human and biophysical systems function at a range of scales and calls for new tools for risk assessment and decision support incorporating decision making under uncertainty.


2011: Sustainability and the U.S. EPA, Committee on Incorporating Sustainability in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Research Council, ISBN 978-0-309-21252-6, 2011. This report is available at

The report presents a framework for incorporating sustainability into EPA principles and decision making. It intended to help the agency better assess the social, environmental, and economic impacts of options as it makes decisions. The report includes chapters on:

  • History of Sustainability
  • Sustainability Framework for EPA
  • Sustainability Assessment and Management: Process, Tools, and Indicators
  • How Risk Assessment and Risk Management Relate to the Sustainability Framework
  • Changing the Culture at EPA
  • Benefits of a Sustainability Approach at EPA


2011: Sustainability, Globalization, and the Future

Gomes, Carla, Computational Sustainability, Computational Methods for a Sustainable Environment, Economy, and Society, The Bridge, 2009.

Key issues in the development of policies for sustainable development will entail complex decisions about the management of natural resources. Making these decisions implies significant computational contributions and will require cooperation among disciplines that do not usually work together. The idea of computational sustainability represents the needed cooperation among these fields, to consider the whole system and how it can be made more sustainable. Biodiversity and species conservation, with special emphasis on marine resources, is studied as an example. Agrarian systems and pastoralism are similarly considered.

In all these cases, the demand for improved data and computational systems is in evidence. For example, large-scale sensor networks may be expected to impose increasingly heavy demands on natural resources management. One implication is the development of the Smart Grid, a composite of information and power networks that would weave together users and consumers in ways that are not now possible. The energy needed for such efforts would put natural energy resources as both something that must be managed, as well as something that is needed to make the network a reality.

The solution to this kind of systems analysis requires computational models of great sophistication, which largely do not exist today. Development of system models would go far beyond the kind of computer science now taught. Research in this field would require scientists from different fields to work together; natural resource specialists, operations researchers, mathematicians, economists, and policy analysts to name just a few. The focus would be on developing comprehensive computational models that can be used to make more sustainable decisions about natural resources and how they are used. Computational sustainability opens up fundamentally new territory for intellectual progress, with the promise of contributing unique societal benefits.

This study can be found at


Martens, Pim and Mohsin Raza, Is Globalization Sustainable?, Sustainability 2010, 2, 280-293, ISSN 2071-1050

Among the visible manifestations of globalization are the greater international movement of goods and services, financial capital, information, and people. There are also technological developments, more international cultural exchanges, increased freedom of trade in new products and services, immigration, political changes, and ecological consequences. This study links the Maastricht Globalization Index with Sustainability Indices to analyze whether more globalized countries are doing better in terms of sustainable development and its dimensions. The results seem to suggest that the process of globalization may render world development more sustainable. The study can be found at

Raskin, Paul, et al, The Century Ahead: Searching for Sustainability, Sustainability 2010, 2, 2626-2651, ISSN 2071-1050

The global future lies before us as a highly uncertain and contested landscape with numerous perils along the way. This study explores possible pathways to sustainability by considering four different scenarios for the twenty-first century. The analysis reveals vividly the risks of conventional development approaches and the real danger of socio-ecological descent. However, there is also Great Transition scenario-implying a civilization of enhanced human well-being and environmental resilience. This option includes a suite of strategic and value changes for getting there. A fundamental shift in the development paradigm is found to be an urgent necessity for assuring a sustainable future and a hopeful opportunity for creating a better world. This study can be found at


2011: A recent study on Water Sustainability in Uzbekistan is Schieder, Tina-Maria, Analysis of Water Use and Crop Allocation for the Khorezm Region in Uzbekistan Using an Integrated Hydrologic-Economic Model, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat, Bonn, Germany, 2011. This document can be found at

Sustainable and efficient water management is of central importance for the dominant agricultural sector, the population, and the environment of the Khorezem region. The region is situated in the lower Amu Darya river basin in the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan and the delta region of the Aral Sea. Deterioration of the ecology is due to vast expansion of the agricultural area, the utilization of marginal land, and very intensive production of cotton on much of the agricultural land. Supplying food for increasing population and coping with the arid climate require intensive irrigation. Current irrigation strategies are not flexible enough to cope with supply-demand problems, and the political system has promoted unsustainable water use rather than preventing it. 

The focus of the study is analysis of more economical and efficient water management and crop allocation. To adequately analyze underlying conditions, an integrated water management model is used. To promote an interdisciplinary approach, hydrologic, climatologic, agronomic, institutional, and economic relationships are integrated into one coherent optimization model for the region.

Simulations with the model indicate that a modification of the regional water supply has a large influence on the total irrigation, ground water, and drainage system, as well as the soil water budget. Low water supply would cause a shift in crop allocation to less water demanding crops such as vegetables, wheat, alfalfa, and fruits. At higher water supply levels, cultivation of water-demanding rice would become more advantageous. Other results show that better distribution and irrigation systems would reduce infiltration losses. Potential changes indicate that the cotton sector could be restructured to less water-demanding crops with higher economic values. Cotton sector reform would lead to a general redistribution of acreage with compensation for losses caused by abolition of cotton subsidies. However, the abolition of subsidies implies greater risk for farmers. Water pricing could help induce environmental awareness and promote conservation.


2011:  Kirker and Burger, Just the Fracking Facts, University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering, 11th Annual Freshman Conference, April 9, 2011. This paper can be found at 

The Marcellus Shale formation stretches from Tennessee to New York, and it is estimated that there may be enough natural gas housed in these structures to supply the United States for approximately 100 years at current consumption rates. Positive effects include possible lower energy costs, about 280,000 jobs, and millions of dollars in local revenue. The fracking process involves cracking open the shale by injecting water, sand, and chemicals at extremely high pressure. However, along with the produced gas there are risks, benefits, and implications for sustainability.

USGS DOCUMENTS: Because of the spirited dialogue surrounding this issue, a search was carried out for USGS documents that relate to the geology of the problem (see A large number of highly technical documents were found, and for this message four were selected that may help to improve understanding of the issue. The documents are:

Soeder and Kappel, Water Resources and Natural Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale, USGS Fact Sheet 2009-3032, May 2009. This document gives background information about the Marcellus Shale formation in the eastern U.S. The document can be found at:

Milici, Robert, Assessment of Undiscovered Natural Gas Resources in Devonian Black Shales, Appalachian Basin, Eastern USA, USGS Open-file Report 2005-1268. This document expands the information base to include other formations found throughout the region, their history, and properties. The document can be found at: 

Characterizing Ground-Water Chemistry and Hydraulic Properties of Fractured-Rock Aquifers Using the Multifunction Bedrock-Aquifer Transportable Testing Tool (BAT), USGS Fact Sheet FS-075-01, August 2001. This document describes a tool for examining how fractured rock can act as an aquifer and be subject to contamination. It helps scientists and others to assess the availability of ground water and the potential for contaminant migration. The document can be found at:

Borehole-Radar Methods: Tools for Characterization of Fractured Rock, USGS Fact Sheet 054-00, May 2000, in cooperation with EPA Region 5. This document concerns how to locate and characterize bedrock fractures and lithologic changes to assess ground water supply and contamination in fractured rock aquifers. Borehole radar reflection methods provide information on the location, orientation, and lateral extent of fracture zones that intersect the borehole, and can identify fractures in the rock surrounding the borehole that are not penetrated by drilling. This document can be found at:


2011: A paper is available about Arab water security in the relevant nations. This is Salih, Abdin M.A., UNESCO/IHP’s Contribution to Arab Water Security in the Countries, from the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Khartoum, Sudan. The paper can be found at  or

The study reviews freshwater scarcity in the Arab countries, at present and in the future. A number of references to work in the area are included. Key problematic concerns are outlined. Ways of dealing with these problems in part or in total through the framework provided by UNESCO/IHP and related initiatives are highlighted.


2011: Claudia Pahl-Wostl, et al: Adaptive and Integrated Management of Water Resources

This paper is available as part of a book for sale from several sources. The book is Water Resources Planning and Management, Grafton and Hussey (eds.), Cambridge University Press,, $83.26 (Amazon), 2011. It includes 35 papers on water resources. 

The paper can be seen on-line, and can be viewed at: 

The impacts of climate change on freshwater resources will primarily be due to changes in temperature, rising sea levels, and increased precipitation variability. Changes in precipitation, evaporation, and snowmelt will cause widespread impacts in the hydrologic cycle relating to availability and quality. Climate induced changes in land use, population, and urbanization will increase the intensity of demand and the vulnerability to extreme events.

The authors include extensive literature references to support their views, and examine tools like Integrated Water Resources Management to cope with the impacts. Managers might be assisted by dashboard-like models, that enable them to see quickly the results of their decisions on the real world. Finally, the conclusions reached are that much of the problem falls not into the technical realm, but into that of management and governance.


The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Executive Office of the President, has released a draft report for comments on this subject. The report is the Draft National Action Plan: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate, June 2, 2011.

The report contains a number of recommendations, as follows: Government agencies and citizens should collaboratively manage freshwater resources in response to a changing climate in order to assure adequate water supplies, protect human life, health and property, and protect water quality and aquatic ecosystems. To accomplish that goal, the draft Action Plan identifies specific actions Federal agencies should take, including:

• Establish a planning process to adapt water resources management to a changing climate that includes better coordinating Federal agencies and maintaining strong engagement with state, local and tribal governments, stakeholders and the public.

• Improve the quality of water resources and climate change information available to decision-makers.

• Expand the use of water efficiency practices and technologies.

• Develop a toolbox of the most effective freshwater conservation practices to help state and local officials and facility managers identify and adopt these practices.

• Develop a pilot climate change vulnerability index for a major category of water facilities, such as drinking water systems, to help facility managers prioritize their adaptation responses.

• Develop a “one stop” internet portal for up-to-date data and information on water resources and climate change.

 To see the June 2011 report directly, you can use the link:


April 2011: There are two important sources for information about the effect of hydraulic fracturing on water resources. 

First, there was a hearing on April 12, 2011 of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. To see this hearing go to Roll back the calendar to April 2011, and click on April 12. You will see a list of hearings, and the one you want is about Natural Gas Drilling, Public Health and Environmental Impacts. You can view the testimony, plus there is an archived video of the hearing itself. During this hearing, at least two senators asked about the effect of drilling on drinking water resources. The answer they got was there is no verified impact.

Second, EPA has published a report in February 2011, Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. This report can be found at:


This report covers the concerns about risks to drinking water supplies from the hydraulic fracturing process. EPA is now undertaking studies to determine the effects. There will be Retrospective Case Studies to investigate reported instances of drinking water resource contamination or other impacts in areas where hydraulic fracturing has already occurred. Three to five sites across the US will be investigated. A report of interim research results will be completed in 2012, mostly focusing on the Retrospective Studies. 

Prospective Case Studies will involve sites where hydraulic fracturing will occur after the research is initiated. Sampling will be done before, during, and after the process is carried out. Two to three sites in different regions of the US will be included. A second report in 2014 will include more information about the long-term results of the research.

The draft study plan will be submitted to the EPA Science Advisory Board for review before being finalized. Stakeholders and the public will have an opportunity to provide comments to the Board during the review.


March 2011: The Omnibus Public Lands Act (Section 9506 of Public Law 111–11, Appendix A, which incorporates the SECURE Water Act) calls for a report to Congress that describes the current scientific understanding of each impact of global climate change on freshwater resources of the United States.

This draft report identifies key actions to improve the Nation’s capacity to detect and predict changes in freshwater resources that are likely to result from a changing climate. In addition, a series of next steps for Federal agencies is provided. The ultimate goal is to help decision-makers and water resource managers by facilitating improvements in observational, data acquisition, and modeling capabilities. 

The draft report is available at


March 2011: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) carried out a study titled Amount of Energy Needed to Supply, Use, and Treat Water is Location-Specific and Can Be Reduced by Certain Technologies and Approaches. This study can be found at

Few nationwide studies have been conducted on the amount of energy needed to provide drinking water and wastewater services, and these studies do not consider all stages of the lifecycle in their analysis. The energy demands of the urban water lifecycle vary by location. Important factors include topography of the service area, the level and type of treatment provided, and the quality of the source water. Systems relying on ground water as a drinking water source generally use less energy than systems relying on surface water, because ground water usually contains fewer contaminants and therefore requires less treatment. 

Installing more efficient equipment, adopting water conservation measures, and upgrading infrastructure are some approaches that can decrease energy use. Technologies to identify potential pipeline leaks throughout water systems can reduce water loss and consequent energy requirements. Barriers to more efficient operation may include the costs to retrofit plants with better equipment and competing priorities at treatment facilities, and other factors.


February 2011: Climate Change Issues: Options for Addressing Challenges to Carbon Offset Quality, GAO-11-345, February 15 (42 pages)

Highlights -

The report provides information on key challenges in assessing the quality of different types of offsets and options for addressing key challenges associated with offset quality. This information would be important if the US adopts a program to limit emissions. GAO reviewed relevant literature and interviewed selected experts and stakeholders such as project developers, verifiers, and program officials. However, the report contains no recommendations.


The Spring 2011 issue of the National Water Monitoring News, published by the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC) can be found at

This issue covers a wide variety of subjects, such as the 2012 conference and webinars, the National Wetland Condition Assessment, Great Lakes Restoration, nutrients in the Rocky Mountain states, harmful algal blooms, and other topics.


Osooli, Nooshin et al,

A Survey: Factors Affecting the Sustainable Water Resources Management (SWRM) in Agriculture Under Drought Conditions in Lorestan, Iran. World Applied Sciences Journal 12 (4): 476-484, 2011.

Drought is one of the climatic phenomena that would always cause some damages for human societies. Drought occurs in all climatic regimes of Iran with different intensities. Low precipitation rate has resulted in decreasing river discharge, early exploitation of wells and early aquifer loss in Lorestan Province in recent years. Therefore, it has worsened the drought crisis. The agricultural sector of the province has showed very vulnerable and its crop yield has quite decreased due to inefficient water resources management.

As its main objective, the research was conducted to study the factors affecting the sustainable water recourses management in agriculture under drought conditions in this province. This survey was conducted on a number of 220 wetland farmers and 70 experts linked to the subject and selected by Cochran Formula and cluster sampling method. The data were analyzed with Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) Method and the LISREL 8.5 Software. The results indicated that all economic, technical, farming, socio-cultural and educational-extensive factors had significant effects on the sustainable management of water resources in Lorestan Province under drought conditions with 99% certainty.

Among these factors, technical ones had the highest effect and ranking. However, socio-cultural factors showed the lowest effect and ranking. Moreover, the amounts of the effects produced by the indexes of these factors were based upon the amounts of standardized factor loads and their ranking was on the same basis.

Ommani, Ahmad Reza,

Analysis of Sustainable Water Resources Management (SWRM) in Agriculture in Khuzestan Province, Iran. African Journal of Agricultural Research, Vol. 6(1), pp 1-6, January 2011.

The purpose of this research was to analyze the supportive policies and dimensions of sustainable water resources management (SWRM) in agriculture of Khuzestan Province of Iran. The research method was a quantitative approach. Total population of experts in the study included all agricultural extension experts (n = 96) in Khuzestan Province, Iran. Based on frequency of respondents about important rate of supportive policies regarding SWRM in agriculture, 70.8% of respondents stated that encouraging farmers to use sustainable methods had very high importance. In reference to the frequency of respondents about extension system roles on realization of SWRM dimensions in agriculture, 52.8% of respondents stated that conservation of water resources had very high importance for supporting SWRM in agriculture.


Hearnshaw, E.J.S., et al, Addressing the Wicked Problem of Water Resource Management: An Ecosystem Services Approach, 55th Annual AARES National Conference, Melbourne, Australia, February 2011.

This paper develops a systematic assessment of the sustainability of ecosystem services provided by rivers impacted by water storage projects. Given the conflicting preferences among stakeholders and the incomplete understanding about river ecology, managing water resources sustainably is a difficult problem. To address this problem, the methods of multi-criteria analysis and graph analysis are applied, in accordance with integrated water resource management, to assess the potential of investing in water storage projects and explore sustainable solutions through the construction of an ecosystem services index.

Mehan, Tracy: Water Management in the Collaborative Mode, WE&T, Feb. 2011, Vol. 23, No. 2.

In this article the author reviews the foundations of cooperative decision making over time, with examples like the work on Governing the Commons. This theory has led to practical application in various parts of the nation, that involve both government and non-government organizations that have stakes in water problems. Some of the examples are reminiscent of how alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is used to achieve solutions that are not traditional, and where the balance of power is such that extended gridlock could occur if solutions are not found that are acceptable to many stakeholders. Solutions of this kind are an important part of sustainable water resources management.

January 2011, National Academy of Science: A Review of the Proposed Revisions to the Federal Principles and Guidelines Water Resources Planning Document

Since it was issued in 1983, the federal document Economic and Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Land Resources Implementation Studies (the P&G) has guided water resources project planning for four federal agencies. Since the early 1980s, however, there have been many changes in the national water resources planning landscape. In light of these developments, many groups -- including committees of the National Research Council -- have recommended that the P&G be reviewed and modernized. In 2007 the U.S. Congress directed the Secretary of the Army to revise the P&G. Congress also directed the Secretary to consult with other entities, including the National Academy of Sciences. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released its "Proposed National Objectives, Principles and Standards for Water and Related Resources Implementation Studies" in December, 2009. The present report from the National Research Council constitutes a review of the 2009 document issued by the CEQ.

The study Examining Water Reuse Implementation Challenges in Texas: Identification of Education Deficits, 2010-2011, has been published by Baylor University. The study can be found at

The State of Texas faces unique water resource challenges in the coming decades, highlighted by an increasing gap between water supply and demand associated with a projected doubling of the State’s population over the next 40 years. Interannual climate variability further stresses efficient water management in a State with a dramatic west-to-east rainfall gradient, projections of prolonged droughts, and corresponding shifts in reliance on groundwater to surface water supplies for potable source water.

Water reuse (beneficial potable and nonpotable uses of treated wastewater) is recognized as an important approach to increase water use efficiency and diversify water resource management portfolios. However, current projections in the current Texas Water Plan indicate that water reuse will represent only 7.5% of total water demand in 2050. Thus, this project investigated why potable water reuse practices have not been more widely employed in Texas. An initial conceptual model employing a shifting the burden archetype identified infrastructure and research funding, risk communication, and reuse outreach and education as leveraging points to facilitate change.

Findings from this study identify the critical need to develop and increase water reuse, environmental health and risk education at the undergraduate level as intervention strategies to facilitate increased implementation of potable reuse practices in the Texas. Accredited undergraduate programs in environmental health science appear poised to support this activity.

Year 2010


National Report, Responding to National Water Resources Challenges, Building Strong Collaborative Relationships for a Sustainable Water Resources Future, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Works Directorate, August 2010.

As important as water is to life, livelihood, and leisure, water is a resource that is often taken for granted until too much of it appears or too little is available to satisfy basic societal needs. Managing water resources as a collaborative endeavor is becoming increasingly crucial as society faces demographic, economic, institutional and climate changes manifesting across the U.S. and around the globe. These changes portend a different understanding of the risks associated with the occurrence, location, intensity and impacts of extreme events—including floods and droughts.

Such changes will inevitably aggravate the competition for water in already stressed regions or emanating from population shifts to arid and semi-arid regions, and along our lakes, rivers and coastlines. Change will also affect water quality by stimulating sea level variations and, from different patterns in the movement of sediments, lead to intrusion of chemicals, other contaminants, and invasive species into water bodies and related land resources. Such change will accelerate the loss of wetlands and sensitive habitats, threaten species and reduce ecosystem services. The resulting challenges facing the Federal government, the states, and interstate and local governments in our management—our collective stewardship—of public water resources come into focus as a shared responsibility for which collaboration is an imperative, not an elective choice.

Water resource planning to address these contemporary needs involves envisioning, formulating and assessing solutions against a backdrop of complex, but sometimes limited, scientific information which is not always completely understood. Planning processes are often seen as fragmented and expensive, while at the same time challenged to accommodate diverse stakeholder perspectives without being tinged with political realities. Although such planning is typically iterative by nature, its efforts are all too often limited in perspective and scope, stymied by constrained funding, and subsumed by higher priorities.

More deliberate, comprehensive planning is needed—intergovernmental by design—and founded on an appreciation of the interconnectivity among and between natural systems and human activities. More collaborative planning, both transparent and inclusive, embracing the systems perspective of watersheds, river basins, estuaries and coastal reaches is needed to realize the promise of concerted integrated water resources management.

The water challenges facing the Nation are compelling and the needs are great. Resolving water issues successfully will take time, funding and commitment by decision makers and stakeholders at all levels of government. To succeed we must act with a sense of urgency to improve the management of critical water resources—especially in an era where the variety of changes threatens the sustainability of all natural resources. The time to act is now.

This initiative represents a dialogue exploring the perspectives of the states, interstate, and stakeholder perspectives on water resources planning and challenges throughout the Nation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was motivated to further this dialogue because we seek to continue to move our own Civil Works program towards a paradigm based on collaboration, sustainability and the embrace of integrated water resources management—and we have concluded that success cannot be achieved alone—a sustainable water resources future can only be realized through a true intergovernmental partnership.

One desired outcome almost universally expressed by participants in this dialogue is to better articulate the roles and align the objectives across disparate water agencies, stakeholders, interests, sectors and all levels of government; however, with full recognition of the primacy of state water rights and responsibilities.

This report represents only the first phase of a journey ultimately aimed at improving water management through more effective collaboration between state, interstate and Federal water resources agencies. The document attempts to summarize the input from the diverse range of Federal, state, interstate, tribal, and nongovernment representatives who gave of their time and energy to join together and lay the groundwork towards a sustainable water future. It provides a synthesis of the issues and themes voiced during the dialogue, along with some general recommendations and suggested actions (next steps) for advancing integrated water resources management (IWRM).


Vidic, Radisav, Sustainable Water Management for Marcellus Shale Development, Dept. of             Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 2010.

This presentation shows U.S. shale gas basins, how the hydraulic fracturing process works, and the wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Water supply issues and the chemical composition of fracturing fluids are given. Waste water and information about flow back water is included. Options for waste water disposal that are assessed include deep wells, waste water treatment plants, reuse, and evaporation. The possibility of using acid mine drainage water with fracturing reuse water is discussed. The current project at the University of Pittsburgh is also mentioned.


National Report on Sustainable Forests—2010, Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture, FS-979, June 2010.

Many thanks to the Deputy Chief, Research and Development, US Forest Service, for sending along this new report. 

The aim of the report is to enhance and inform public dialogue about forest sustainability in the US and beyond. It contains information on the social, economic, and ecological dimensions of forest sustainability. Current forest conditions on the nation’s private and public forests are described using a set of seven criteria and 64 indicators. Recent activities promoting sustainable forests at the national, regional, and local levels are also highlighted.


Tsakiris, G., et al, Proactive Management of Water Systems to Face Drought and Water Scarcity in Islands and Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean (PRODIM), National Technical University of Athens, 2010.

Most of the islands and coastal zones of the Mediterranean suffer from droughts and water shortages which cause heavy impacts on economies, societies and the environment at local or regional scales. The PRODIM project aimed at producing rational, comprehensive, easy to use and applicable methods for assessing drought severity. Models of preparedness plans were devised, ready to be customized according to local or regional natural and socio-economic conditions.

Guidelines for facing water shortages and road maps for effective participation of stakeholders, administration officers, institutions and the public in decision making, were formulated. Simplification of the multiple character of droughts (severity, areal extent, duration, etc.) led to a uni-dimensional approach, which can be easily understood and implemented by people of different backgrounds and disciplines. The methodology was applied and refined through case studies carried out in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta.

This general description of the project should help those faced with design of management plans for regions that have similar challenges.


Farrell, David et al, Drought Early Warning and Risk Reduction: A Case Study of the Caribbean Drought of 2009-2010, Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, 2010.

Hydrometeorological disasters are the most frequently occurring disasters in the Caribbean. Many of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean, as well as the lowlying coastal regions of South and Central America, are particularly vulnerable to hydrometeorological and climate hazards due to their geology, topography, significant coastal urbanization, small climate sensitive economies and lack of significant economic diversity.

As a result, reducing their vulnerability to climate and hydrometeorological hazards is critical if many of these states are to increase or sustain their current level of socio-economic development into the future. Drought represents one of the most frequently occurring climate hazards in the Caribbean with recent droughts resulting in economic losses and national anxiety for many Caribbean SIDS. While droughts are a frequent occurrence in the region, the region’s adaptation to such events is quite poor. This paper illustrates the impacts of the most recent drought in the Caribbean through island specific examples. The examples show the sensitivity of key economic sectors (in particular water and agriculture) to drought and the low resilience of the region to drought.

This low resilience is due to limited national and regional capacity in key areas, systemic problems within countries that limit information sharing between key stakeholder institutions, inadequate policies, and limited finances to implement and sustain key activities. We conclude that unless more is done to increase the region's resilience to drought, the region will be challenged to sustain and enhance its socioeconomic development under range of future climates and increasing climate variability currently being forecast. 

Areas where more needs to be done include (i) enhancing the quality, delivery and targeting of climate services to national and regional stakeholders, (ii) increasing data sharing, enhancing collaborations between national, regional and international stakeholders, (iii) policy reform with respect to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), and (iv) public education. We conclude that if significant improvements are not made with respect to adaptation to drought, many Caribbean SIDS will find it difficult to adapt to future regional climates which are expected to be marked by on average longer drier conditions than present.


Water for Business, Initiatives Guiding Sustainable Water Management in the Private Sector, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Version 2, March 2010. 


Every business depends and impacts on water resources. Some use it to process raw materials and manufacture goods. Some use it for cooling and cleaning. For others, it is a central ingredient in the goods they produce, or it is required to consume the product they sell. 

The future of business depends on the sustainability of water resources, which are increasingly under pressure. Globally, per capita availability of freshwater is steadily decreasing and the trend will inevitably continue as the world’s population swells towards 9 billion, emerging economies increase consumption levels and climate change unfolds.

For the global economy to carry on expanding at the same pace without improvements in efficiency, worldwide annual water consumption would have to rise from 4,500 km3 today to 6,900 km3 in 2030 – that is 40% above current accessible, reliable supply.

Some of the key questions facing business today include: How might water availability and allocations restrict my company’s supply chain? What effects will the lack of water security have on my markets? Will my customers have enough water to enable them to use my products or services? Can I justify my water consumption with regard to other users, including environmental requirements? And also: Can I boost my revenues by providing solutions? The global business community increasingly recognizes the water challenge, but to respond effectively it needs guidance, tools, standards and schemes to enable change to more sustainable practices. Since 2006, many new initiatives and concepts have emerged to address this need, driven by business leaders in the field, civil society and governments. Most are global with multistakeholder representation; but some are also addressing more and more the specificities of water usage for a particular sector (the beverage industry and the mining sector for example). Water risks are increasingly capturing the attention of the capital markets as reflected by the recent launch of the CDP Water Disclosure. 

The WBCSD and IUCN have joined forces to produce this guide to help business better understand and meet the water challenge. The WBCSD has been actively working on water issues for over 10 years and has helped move water up everybody’s business agenda. The WBCSD recently produced a set of tools intended to help member companies integrate water issues.

Purpose and scope 

The world is in desperate need of tools for sustainable water management. Some exist and are widely used, others are still under development. This guide is aimed at helping business identify which initiatives and approaches will most suit their needs, and to help developers of schemes understand opportunities for increasing impact through consensus building and joint action.

The key objectives of this document are to: 

• Provide a structured overview of major initiatives to improve understanding of “who is doing what”;

• Help build a common language for business on water sustainability; 

• Support the identification of risks and opportunities, gaps and complementarities;

• Demonstrate leadership and facilitate business engagement in relevant initiatives.



Berger, Markus and Matthias Finkbeiner, Water Footprinting: How to Address Water Use in Life Cycle Assessment?, Sustainability, 2010, 2, 919-944, ISSN 2071-1050 

As freshwater is a vital yet often scarce resource, the life cycle assessment community has put great efforts in method development to properly address water use. The International Organization for Standardization has recently even launched a project aiming at creating an international standard for “water footprinting”. This paper provides an overview of a broad range of methods developed to enable accounting and impact assessment of water use. The critical review revealed that methodological scopes differ regarding types of water use accounted for, inclusion of local water scarcity, as well as differentiation between watercourses and quality aspects. As the application of the most advanced methods requires high resolution inventory data, the trade-off between “precision” and “applicability” needs to be addressed in future studies and in the new international standard.


Mathews, Kevin, The Water Imperative: Blue is the New Green, Sustainability Summit, Arlington, Virginia, December 7, 2010.  

This presentation covers the efforts of Nestle’ Waters North America (NWNA) to carry out a program of water sustainability, showing how their products impact water resources and what actions the company is taking. To frame the issue, the point is made that most of the world’s population will experience water stress by 2025. Climate change is expected to cause major changes, leading to increased competition among water users. Because of increasing rates of consumption, and the fact that there is no substitute for it, water may become the “oil” of the 21st century. 

In 2007, Nestle’ and five other world business leaders launched the CEO Water Mandate. The UN Global Compact Project was designed to help companies reduce their water use throughout their supply chains. Over the past 10 years, Nestle’ has reduced its water usage ratio by 28 percent. Industrial methods include irrigation water reuse, filler flush timers, reuse of air conditioner condensate, and cleaning in place. The NWNA approach considers the whole supply chain from raw material to end of life disposal of the product. 

The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a partnership of leading beverage companies including Nestle’, Coca Cola, Bacardi, Pepsico, Beam, Coors, and others, to quantify and improve water use and efficiency, share best practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and quantify water footprinting. Other partnerships include water education, sustainable land and water use (with the Nature Conservancy), and a sustainable agriculture initiative. Case studies with companies like Anheuser-Busch have shown positive results.


Kant, Krishna, NSF Briefing on Sustainability Programs, Presentation at INFOCOM 2010, March 17, 2010. 

NSF programs cover a variety of topics that relate to sustainability, and funding supports them to various degrees. Funding through 2009 shows a steady increase, and further funding is sought for succeeding years. A 2009 study resulted in findings about how sustainability is important for the whole economy. There are a number of general topics for which NSF has allocated sustainability funding. These include Computing, Environment, Climate Research, Earth System Modeling, Biodiversity, Water Sustainability and Climate, Ocean Acidification, Climate Change Education, Science, Education, and Engineering, and others (given in a table). Contacts are given for more information about these topics.


The USGS has published the report Maupin, M.A., and Arnold, T.L., 2010, Estimates for self-supplied domestic withdrawals and population served for selected principal aquifers, calendar year 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1223, 10 p. This report can be found at  

The National Water-Quality Assessment Program of the U.S. Geological Survey has groundwater studies that focus on water-quality conditions in principal aquifers of the United States. The Program specifically focuses on aquifers that are important to public supply, domestic, and other major uses. 

Estimates for self-supplied domestic withdrawals and the population served for 20 aquifers in the United States for calendar year 2005 are provided in this report. These estimates are based on county-level data for self-supplied domestic groundwater withdrawals and the population served by those withdrawals, as compiled by the National Water Use Information Program, for areas within the extent of the 20 aquifers.

In 2005, the total groundwater withdrawals for self-supplied domestic use from the 20 aquifers represented about 63 percent of the total self-supplied domestic groundwater withdrawals in the United States; the population served by the withdrawals represented about 61 percent of the total self-supplied domestic population in the United States.


The December 2010, Vol. 2, No. 1 Journal of Management and Public Policy is a special issue on water.  This biannual peer reviewed international journal is published in June and December every year by the Management Development Research Foundation, New Delhi, India. The online edition of the journal is available at as an open access journal. The December issue is the “current issue.” You can find earlier issues by going to the archive list on the left-hand side of the home page. Here is a brief description of the contents:

Adam Smith in his famous book ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ has pronounced the famous diamond-water paradox, where he argues that water is priceless, even compared to diamond because water is imperative for life. The diamond-water paradox proves that scarcity makes diamond costly. Growing urbanization and industrialization has made water a costly product. Trans-national corporations are catching the market for safe drinking water as well as other uses of water. Global evidence proves that market for water is costly and risky if it is not properly regulated by government. Public policy for the distribution of water is very important at a time when neither the public water bodies nor the private water bodies are sensitive to the use and misuse of water. There are certain loopholes in the system, which need to be taken care of properly when we have global task like providing safe drinking water to one billion people on this earth as a part of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG). The current issue of Journal of Management & Public Policy presents a critical analysis of public policy on water. This issue is an important collection because the mixture of developed and developing countries’ experiences makes us aware about what and how water policy should be framed.


Clear Gold: Water As a Strategic Resource in the Middle East, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, December 2010.

Study description:

Full report:

Water is a fundamental part of the social contract in Middle Eastern countries. Along with subsidized food and fuel, governments provide cheap or even free water in order to ensure the consent of the governed. But when subsidized commodities have been cut in the Middle East, instability has often followed. Water’s own role in prompting unrest has so far been relatively limited, but that record is unlikely to hold. Water has no substitutes, and while cheap in its natural state, water is expensive to process and transport. Future water scarcity will be much more permanent than past shortages, and the techniques governments have used in responding to past disturbances may not be enough.


Drought Predictability and Prediction in a Changing Climate: Assessing Current Predictive Knowledge and Capabilities, User Requirements and Research Priorities, World Climate Research Programme, December 12, 2010.

A report has been located from the Global Water System Project, specifically the proceedings The Global Dimensions of Change in River Basins, University Club, Bonn, Germany, Dec. 6-8, 2010. The report can be found at:

This proceedings contains 20 papers from various parts of the world. Some selected subjects include:

Impact of global change on large river basins, River flow projections in a changing climate, Impacts of national and international actors on river basin management, Effect of changing anthropogenic and climate conditions on BOD loading and water quality, Water resources planning and management regions: new insights for defining regions.


The Sustainable Society Foundation has launched the new update of the Sustainable Society Index, SSI-2010. This is already the third edition of the SSI, after SSI-2006 and SSI-2008. The SSI, based on 24 indicators, comprises the three wellbeing dimensions of sustainability in its broad sense: Human, Environmental and Economic Wellbeing. The SSI has been calculated, like the previous editions, for 151 countries.

Since this is the third edition, SSI can make comparisons over time, however cautiously. It shows that the world at large has grown in wealth, but that this increase has hardly been used for progress on the way towards sustainability. The overall index slightly increased in the past four years from 5.8 to 5.9.

All information can be found on the SSI website at And should you wish any further information, do not hesitate to contact SSI at Sustainable Society Foundation

Alteration of Streamflow Magnitudes and Potential Ecological Consequences: A Multiregional Assessment, Ecological Society of America, Front Ecol Environ 2010; doi: 10.1890/100053,

 Most River Flows across the U.S. are Altered by Land and Water Management, Leading to Ecological Degradation. This USGS assessment provides the most geographically extensive analysis to date of streamflow alteration. Findings show that the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers has been significantly altered from land and water management in nearly 90 percent of waters that were assessed in the nationwide USGS study.  Flow alterations are a primary contributor to degraded river ecosystems and loss of native species whose survival and reproduction are tightly linked to specific flow conditions. These consequences can also affect water quality, recreational opportunities and the maintenance of sport fish populations. Flows are altered by a variety of land- and water-management activities, including reservoirs, diversions, subsurface tile drains, groundwater withdrawals, wastewater inputs, and impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, sidewalks and roads. The severity and type of stream flow alteration varies among regions, due to natural landscape features, land practices, degree of development, and water demand.  Differences are especially large between arid and wet climates. In wet climates, watershed management is often focused on flood control, which can result in lower maximum flows and higher minimum flows. Extremely low flows are the greatest concern in arid climates, in large part due to groundwater withdrawals and high water use for irrigation.

In September 2010, the New Zealand Land and Water Forum issued Report of the Land and Water Forum, A Fresh Start for Freshwater. This document is available on the Land and Water Forum website at

This report covers a variety of land and water problems in New Zealand, which may be similar to those faced by others. Although some water bodies have good quality, problems are mounting because of the failure to set limits, for example on nutrients. This has implications for institutional arrangements at different government levels. The growing problem of scarcity should be managed better, so that water is allocated on a rational basis. A permit system is in place, but changes are needed to make it easier to transfer permits between users. Rural water infrastructure should be improved so as to increase the availability of water, and promote economic development. Across the board improvement in water science is needed, including research and application to data collection, storage, and utilization. In urban areas, stakeholders should be engaged to develop comprehensive water and wastewater management plans. Because of the major impact of floods, policies should be developed to connect land management with impacts on the river systems. A series of recommendations is included that are intended to accomplish the needed changes in land and water management.

How Can We Finance Urban Water Challenges To Come: Do We Need A New Business Model?World Water Congress and Exhibition, International Water Association, Montreal, Sept. 20, 2010

This article points out that the traditional approach of simply providing the engineered facilities for water is no longer adequate to present needs within a watershed. Multiple requirements are now the norm. The economics of water pricing affect demand, and thereby the behavior of water users. Recent examples include the development of price management strategies that attempt to balance water use by differential pricing. In addition, future water sources may become smaller and more decentralized, and rely on a mixture of nontraditional water sources within a watershed. Attempts are also underway to include the non-human needs of the ecology in the management plan, and to develop ways to distinguish among the differing needs for water of different quality. This complex mixture of elements then becomes the basis for sustainable water management in a given watershed.

The natural watershed and the local hydrologic cycle then become more important to developing a viable approach. Some examples of the resulting changes include the use of green roofs, water gardens, and expanded use of trees and plants, rather than only relying on engineered solutions. The resulting smaller systems have implications for local water pricing, financing, and how benefits are realized for users in the watershed. This is far from business as usual, and requires a new role for government in fostering this decentralized approach. Specifically, integrating the full value of water into management practices is a significant departure from underpriced supplies that many now enjoy. Reaching this new goal will challenge all aspects of water supply and demand economics in the nation.

June 2010: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) convened a workshop entitled “Water Management Technology Best Management Practices and Innovations Workshop for the Process Industries,” held May 13-14, 2009 at EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC. The report of the workshop, along with earlier ASME work, is available at

Some important action items resulted from this process. The items of highest interest are those with potential for collaboration with partners, including government, industry, and nongovernmental organizations. The action items from the workshop are:

  1. Establish a community engagement platform on industrial water reuse management technology
  2. Give ASME awards/recognition for outstanding water reuse projects, equipment, and activities
  3. Develop industry-specific workshops to promote and capture best management practices
  4. Produce industry case study resource guide
  5. Create water efficiency codes and standards within areas of expertise
  6. Use thermal pinch experience to promote water pinch
  7. Develop an online tool analogous to the Produced Water Management Information System
  8. Define “10 Great Challenges” for industrial water reuse
  9. Identify industries best suited for water reuse
  10. Establish benchmarking through case studies

Water Resources Sustainability, AWRA Watershed Update, Jan.-June 2010, Vol. 8, No. 1,

The article covers definitions of water resources sustainability, for example as seen by the 1983 Brundtland Commission, and defined by the Daly Rules for Sustainability. One important point is the comparison between the rate of water use and the rate at which water can be replenished. A systems analysis approach is also included, which discusses how water sustainability is affected by long duration, the use rate, moderate solutions to problems, and the flexibility of solutions.

Peak Water Limits to Freshwater Withdrawal and Use, National Academy of Sciences, June 22, 2010, Vol. 107, No. 25, 11155-11162,

Observers may be familiar with the concept of “peak oil,” in which a nonrenewable resource is assumed to have passed its peak of production. Some descriptions claim that the world is now on the downward trend because less oil remains to be recovered. This paper applies the concept to water, which is generally considered a renewable resource.

Three kinds of peak water are described. Peak renewable water occurs where flow constraints limit total water availability over time. Peak nonrenewable water is observable in groundwater systems where production rates substantially exceed natural recharge rates, and where overpumping or contamination leads to a peak of production followed by a decline. Peak ecological water is defined as the point beyond which the total costs of ecological disruptions and damages exceed the total value provided by human use of the water.


Elevated nutrients in the Nation’s Streams and Groundwater—A Continuing Issue, National Water Quality Assessment Program, Circular 1350, USGS.

The information describes nutrient concentrations in the Nation's water resources, key sources of nutrients, factors affecting nutrient concentrations, potential effects on humans and aquatic life, and changes in concentrations since the early 1990s. Implications of the findings touch on many environmental issues, including those related to (1) developing nutrient criteria for surface water bodies, (2) reducing nutrients to receiving waters, (3) setting realistic expectations for water-quality improvements following nutrient reduction strategies, and (4) managing elevated nutrients in drinking water from surface-water intakes and wells.


Wastewater Infrastructure Financing: Stakeholder Views on a National Infrastructure Bank and Public-Private Partnerships, General Accountability Office, GAO-10-728, June 2010.

One important aspect of water sustainability is maintaining water quality. Communities will need hundreds of billions of dollars in coming years to construct and upgrade wastewater infrastructure. For this reason, the General Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to prepare a short report to ascertain stakeholders views on issues of financing, especially how public and private options could work together.

The results of the GAO study are now available at:

This report may well serve as the basis for future policy making, as the nation attempts to cope with this important water resources problem.


The International Water Association ( has made available power point slides on the impact of biofuel development on water resources.

An original presentation on this subject was given in 2009 at the annual technical conference of the Water Environment Federation (, in Orlando, Florida.

The slides may be found at:

The International Water Association (IWA) has published an article on Water and Sanitation, with special reference to urban service supply chains. The article uses maps and graphs from the sustainable water resources indicators compendium, to show the elements of a complete sanitation program. Also included is recent research on improving wastewater flows by capturing nutrients and raising algae as an energy source. The article may be found at:

Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable, Draft Meeting Proceedings, April 2010, Palo Alto, California

The final report can be found at:

On August 13, 2009 a workshop on water sustainability was held in
Cincinnati, under the auspices of such organizations as the American
Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Institute for Electrical and
Electronics Engineers, and the National Science Foundation. The goal
of the workshop was to provide a forum on the science required to
sustainably manage the nation's water resources.   

The agenda included overviews of federal efforts like the
Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality (SWAQ) report, and
the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable of the Advisory
Committee on Water Information (ACWI). Also included were
perspectives of the academic, community, and corporate organizations.
A web site with relevant background reports can be found at:

Presentations and other results of the workshop are now available at:

Plenary Address of G. Tracy Mehan III, Data and Monitoring as Tools for Water Management, National Water Quality Monitoring Council, April 2010, See:

Understanding and Applying New Sustainability Metrics in the Water Sector 
By Howard M. Neukrug, et al (  

(March 2010) See

Water Environment Federation

This Technical Practice Update (TPU) is focused on providing guidance on sustainability metrics and terminology as a basis for clear communication. The water sector has been applying sustainability principles for many years, by considering social, economic, and environmental effects when evaluating water sources; by designing wastewater treatment facilities to reduce environmental effects on the receiving waters; and providing reuse of water to reduce economic, environmental, and social burdens caused by over-extraction of water. This TPU will help water professionals to understand the terminology of sustainability and the main metrics used to assess and measure sustainability.


Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Report, March 2010,  

Year 2009  

Water Environment Federation, 2009 Sustainable Water Resources Management, Sessions 59, 83, and 101. The papers may be found at

University of British Columbia, Canadian Approaches to Assessing Water Security: An Inventory of Indicators, November 2009,

Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable. Meeting Summary, December 2009, Arlington, Virginia,

Water Dependency of Energy Production and Power Generation Systems, VWRRC Special Report No. SR46-2009, Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, July 2009.

Water and energy systems constitute the foundation for modern infrastructures around the world. In the U.S., energy and power generation systems are major users of freshwater resources. Energy production systems considered in this study include primary fuel sources like coal, natural gas, and petroleum, biofuels, and synthetic fuels. Power generation technologies considered include hydroelectric, fossil fuel thermoelectric, nuclear, geothermal, solar thermoelectric, and hydrogen. Water use efficiency of various energy/power technologies is expressed in gallons of water per BTU generated.

Results of the study show that natural gas is the most water efficient energy source, while biofuels are the least efficient. Synthetic fuel production processes are also water efficient, but these technologies mostly depend on hydrocarbon feedstock such as coal and natural gas. In terms of power generation, hydroelectric power is the most water efficient, while nuclear power is the least efficient.


Water Consumption in the Production of Ethanol and Petroleum Gasoline, Engineering Management (2009) 44:981-997, DOI 10.1007/s00267-009-9370-0

 Water consumption was analyzed for a number of sources, such as ethanol, conventional fuel feedstocks, oil sands, etc. It appears that water consumption varies not only with region, but also according to the technologies employed, and recovery processes. Crop irrigation is the most important factor in the production of corn ethanol. Nearly 70 percent of US corn used for ethanol is produced in regions where 10-17 liters of water are consumed to produce one liter of ethanol. Water requirements for switchgrass ethanol production vary from 1.9 to 9.8 liters of water per liter of ethanol produced. For most gasoline produced from conventional sources, the water consumed is 2.8 to 6.6 liters for each liter of gasoline. For most of the oil from Canadian oil sands, about 5.2 liters of water are consumed for each liter of gasoline produced. The differences in water consumption emphasize the need for water management plans as part of energy production.


 Evolving Methodology for Rating Watershed Sustainability in Preparation for Possible Certification

By Ethan T. Smith and Harry X. Zhang  

Order No: P090038
Medium: Electronic Download
Publisher: Water Environment Federation
Year: 2009

This Technical Practice Update (TPU) proposes a watershed rating methodology that combines and expands existing elements used to assess the sustainability of a watershed, including human use of physical characteristics, water and wastewater treatment facilities, and significant industrial facilities. Inherent in these discussions is the concept that human activity, at a minimum, should only use nature's resources at a rate at which they can be safely replenished naturally so that future generations can meet their own needs. It has now been proposed that it may be possible to apply certification to an entire watershed. This TPU tries to show how steps might be taken in this direction and to address how a foundation might be established that could provide the basis for a subsequent certification process. Published by WEF. 2009. Electronic download. 22 pages.

List Price: $55.00

Free for members of the Water Environment Federation (



Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable. Meeting Summary, June 2009, Arlington, Virginia,


Mehan, G. Tracy, Cadmus Group. Moving Beyond Water Quality Trading Towards a Complete Portfolio of Ecoservices. University of Chicago. May 29, 2009. Video, 15 minutes.


Year 2008

Vorosmarty, Charles J., et al, Global Water Resources: Vulnerability from Climate Change and Population Growth, Science, 289, 284 (2008).

The future adequacy of freshwater resources is difficult to assess, owing to a complex and rapidly changing geography of water supply and use. Numerical experiments combining climate model outputs, water budgets, and socioeconomic information along digitized river networks demonstrate that (i) a large proportion of the world’s population is currently experiencing water stress and (ii) rising water demands greatly outweigh greenhouse warming in defining the state of global water systems to 2025. Consideration of direct human impacts on global water supply remains a poorly articulated but potentially important facet of the larger global change question.

Water Environment Federation, 2008 Sustainable Water Resources Management, Sessions 17, 36, 58. The papers may be found at

Matthews, Robert and Catherine M. Spencer, “National Security Strategy for U.S. Water,” IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, Vol. 27, No. 6, Nov.-Dec. 2008,

Managing for Water Sustainability. Paper by John Wells at the AWRA Annual Conference, New Orleans, Nov. 17-21, 2008. The report by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board is available at

The Case for Using Reclaimed Water, by Ethan T. Smith and Harry X. Zhang, published in the Nov. 2008 issue of Power Engineering. The paper is available at: paper addresses the impact of the use of cooling water at thermoelectric power facilities on water availability, and how this impact may be mitigated.

Managing an Uncertain Future, Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for California's Water, Oct.2008. The report includes topics that are significant for water sustainability, such as changes in precipitation and runoff patterns, the frequency of extreme hydrologic events, and the variation of impacts by geographic region. The report is available at

June 26-27, 2008 Meeting Notes (PDF 287KB)

American Water Resources Association: Water Resources Blog (A series of essays on Water Resources Concerns in the next decade.) (click on the left side bar of the blog to see main page and/or other current articles.)

Year 2007

Water Environment Federation, Sustainable Water Resources Management, 2007 Sessions 36, 78, 114. The papers may be found at

November 15-16, 2007 Proceedings (PDF 1,020 KB)

Taking the Long View: The Journey toward sustainable water resources management begins by determining the most important water issues and indicators, by Ethan T. Smith and Harry X. Zhang (PDF 1,050KB) (

May 22-23, 2007 Proceedings (PDF 1,681KB)

Developing National And Sub-National Sustainable Water Resources Indicators, by E. T. Smith and R. Swanson, Presented at the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress, May 15-19, 2007, Tampa, Florida. (PDF 831KB) (

January 25-26, 2007 Proceedings (PDF 166KB)

An Integrated Indicator Based on Basin Hydrology, Environment, Life, and Policy: The Watershed Sustainability Index

Water Resources Management (2007) Vol.21, No.5, 883-895, DOI: 10.1007/s11269-006-9107-2

This study considers Hydrology, Environment, Life, and water resources Policy (HELP) as the most important elements in the watershed, and combines them with a pressure-state-response approach to develop an overall watershed sustainability index. The study recognizes the availability of good data as a critical requirement for carrying out such studies. Within each of the major categories (e.g., hydrology) a number of indicators are used to develop numerical ratings. The overall watershed sustainability index is a linear sum of the components. The authors apply the method to a UNESCO watershed in Brazil, as an example.


Year 2006


Water Environment Federation, Sustainable Water Resources Management, 2006 Sessions 36, 80. The papers may be found at

Report on the Progress of the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable. Water Resources Impact, July 2006, Volume 8, No. 4. American Water Resources Association. See

April 25-26, 2006 Proceedings (PDF 1025KB)

Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable -- Fact Sheet February 2006 (PDF 204KB)


Year 2005  

Water Environment Federation, Sustainable Water Resources Management, 2005 Sessions 68, 107. The papers may be found at

Measuring the Sustainability of Water Management in the U.S. Presented by John Wells at the Minnesota Water 2005 Conference in October 26, 2005

Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable -- Preliminary Report September 30, 2005

Great Lakes Region, Water Sustainability Research Workshop (PDF File 882KB), April 5-6, 2005, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Related report on Sustainability of Water Wthdrawals in Journal of the American Water Resource Association: Roy, Sujoy B., Ricci, Paolo F., Summers, Karen V., Chung, Chih-Fang, and Goldstein, Robert R., Evaluations of the Sustainability of Water Withdrawals in the United States, 1995-2025, October 2005, 18pp.
Please contact the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) to obtain a copy of the article at the following url:


Year 2004

Water Environment Federation, Sustainable Water Resources Management, 2004 Session 47. The papers may be found at

December 7, 2004 Proceedings (PDF File 115KB)


Conservation and Sustainable Use of Freshwater Resources in West Asia, Central Asia and North Africa, 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress, Bangkok, Thailand, November 17-25, 2004.

This World Conservation Union Water Publication sought to bring into focus some of the many issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of freshwater resources across the region. This publication includes 6 technical papers prepared by specialists representing each of WESCANA’s four sub-regions (the Arabian Peninsula, Mid-west Asia, North Africa and Central Asia). The papers addressed water issues from the viewpoint of the four themes of the World Conservation Congress:

• Ecosystem Management: Bridging sustainability and productivity

• Health, Poverty and Conservation: Responding to the challenge of human well being

• Biodiversity Loss and Species Extinction: Man- aging risk in a changing world

• Markets, Business and Environment: Strengthening corporate social responsibility, law and policy.


September 13-14, 2004 Proceedings

Understanding Sustainability at the State Level, by John R. Wells, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, July 2004 (Power Point File 1,246KB)

How Do We Know It's Sustainable? , by Ethan T. Smith and Harry X. Zhang, Water Environment and Technology, June 2004. (PDF File 2,207KB) (

March 2-3, 2004 Proceedings (PDF File 76KB)

Water Resources Sustainability, Water Resources Update, Issue 127, February 2004, Universities Council on Water Resources, 4543 Faner Hall, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-4526, (618) 536-7571. The table of contents, includes the URL link to the full article for each journal entry, for this journal issue is available to non-members of UCOWR at:

National Council for Science and the Environment, Jan. 29-30, 2004, Session 3, Water Sustainability Indicators. See button at left hand page.



Bayarsaihan, T. and D. McKinney (eds.), Past Experience and Future Challenges, Cooperation in Shared Water Resources in Central Asia, Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sept. 26-28, 2002.

 Water and environmental management problems in Central Asia first gained international notice as a result of the ecological crisis brought on by the shrinking of the Aral Sea. The catchments of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, which both exit to the sea, together form the Aral Sea basin. From 1960 to 1990, the Aral Sea’s area was halved when inflows were diverted to support cotton and rice production in downstream deserts. An ecological disaster resulted as a vibrant fishery was destroyed, surrounding ecosystems devastated, and the health and livelihood of a million people irrevocably damaged.

The challenge of regional water management for these semi-arid lands is no less acute today. Attention has now turned primarily to the need for balance between upstream hydropower and downstream irrigation interests—even as steps continue to address economic and social hardships facing those still living around the Aral Sea.

Year 1998

Gleick, Peter, Water in Crisis: Paths to Sustainable Water Use, Ecological Applications, 8(3), Ecological Society of America, 1998.

A wide range of ecological and human crises result from inadequate access to, and the inappropriate management of, freshwater resources. These include destruction of aquatic ecosystems and extinction of species, millions of deaths from water-related illnesses, and a growing risk of regional and international conflicts over scarce, shared water supplies. As human populations continue to grow, these problems are likely to become more frequent and serious. New approaches to long-term water planning and management that incorporate principles of sustainability and equity are required and are now being explored by national and international water experts and organizations. Seven ‘‘sustainability criteria’’ are discussed here, as part of an effort to reshape long-term water planning and management. Among these principles are guaranteed access to a basic amount of water necessary to maintain human health and to sustain ecosystems, basic protections for the renewability of water resources, and institutional recommendations for planning, management, and conflict resolution. ‘‘Backcasting’’ a positive future vision of the world’s water resources as a tool for developing rational policies and approaches for reducing water related problems is also discussed in the context of the Comprehensive Freshwater Assessment prepared for the United Nations General Assembly in 1997.

Year 1996

The Mississippi Heartland River of the Nation, by John C. Kammerer (PDF 1,497 KB)