Water Strategies for the Next Administration: New Major U.S. Water Policy Recommendations

science_coverNovember 3, 2016, Oakland, Calif. – A new Science article, written by the Pacific Institute’s chief scientist and president emeritus, Peter Gleick, will be published in the journal tomorrow, November 4th. The article identifies major water-related challenges facing the United States and offers explicit recommendations for strategies the next administration and Congress should pursue, domestically and internationally.

The article begins:

“Issues around fresh water are not particularly high on the U.S. political agenda. They should be. Water problems directly threaten food production, fisheries, energy generation, foreign policy, public health, and international security. Access to safe, sufficient, and affordable water is vital to well-being and to the economy. Yet U.S. water systems, once the envy of the world, are falling into disrepair and new threats loom on the horizon.”

Six key challenges are addressed:

  1. Inconsistent, overlapping, and inefficient Federal responsibilities for fresh water.
  2. Incomplete basic water science and data.
  3. Obsolete and decaying critical water infrastructure.
  4. Growing links between water conflicts and threats to U.S. national security.
  5. The failure to provide safe, affordable water to all Americans.
  6. The worsening threat of climate change for U.S. water resources.

The article offers recommendations in each of these areas and suggests that water policy offers an opportunity for bipartisan agreement. The report’s author, Dr. Peter Gleick, says “National water issues have been sadly neglected for far too long. The new administration has many opportunities to build a 21st century national water system with broad public support. During the 2016 campaign, both presidential candidates have indicated their backing for clean water and concern over recent water-quality problems in cities like Flint, Michigan.”

Among the recommendations in the Science Policy Forum piece are a call for a bipartisan water commission to make specific policy suggestions to Congress and the White House; an expansion of national efforts to collect, manage, and share water data; modernization of federal water-quality laws; testing for lead and other contaminants in every school in the country and remediation of any problems; new incentives for improved urban and agricultural water use technologies; an expansion of diplomatic efforts to reduce water conflicts; a boost in resources available for domestic and international programs to provide safe water and sanitation for all; and the integration of climate science into water management and planning at federal agencies and facilities.

In the article Gleick concludes:

“We have neglected the nation’s fresh water far too long. The next administration and Congress have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure federal agencies, money, and regulations work to protect our waters, citizens, communities, and national interests.”

 You may read more about the article and access the link to read it here.



The Pacific Institute is a global water think tank that creates and advances solutions to some of the world’s most pressing water challenges through interdisciplinary research and by partnering with a variety of stakeholders. Founded in 1987 and based in Oakland, California, the Pacific Institute envisions a world in which society, the economy, and the environment have the water they need to thrive now and in the future.