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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research Appendix D Summary of State Perspectives On January 9, 2003, the Committee on Assessment of Water Resources Research met in Tucson, Arizona, and heard eight presentations about individual state’s water resources research needs and water issues. Subsequently, five additional states were contacted to fill out the geographical representation of the submissions. The goal of the exercise was twofold. First, the committee wanted the states to have an opportunity to express their needs with respect to water resources research, since they are often the primary user of the results of federally funded research activities. Second, the committee used the information to confirm that the research needs found in Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the Twenty-first Century actually reflect current thinking at the state level. The 13 individuals and their state affiliation are listed below. Rita McGuire, Arizona Center for Public Policy Steve Macaulay, California Department of Water Resources Karl Dreher, Idaho Department of Water Resources Derek Winstanley, Illinois State Water Survey Steve Kahl, Maine Water Resources Research Institute Mark Smith, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Affairs Mark Buehler, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Jamie Crawford, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Roger Patterson, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Peggy Barroll, New Mexico Office of the State Engineer Barry Norris, Oregon Water Resources Department Andrew Zemba, Pennsylvania Office of Water Management Bill Mullican, Texas Water Development Board
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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research Each individual was asked to provide input on three water issues, as listed in boldface below. Instead of presenting the individual responses of each, what follows are brief summaries of all of the responses. For a transcript of a complete state response or a copy of the PowerPoint presentations, contact Laura Ehlers at firstname.lastname@example.org. 1. Provide a brief description of your organization’s responsibilities. The 12 contributing organizations include state agencies responsible for water administration, public water supply, planning, and data gathering as well as agencies responsible for water and public policy research and an agency responsible for providing metropolitan water supplies. 2. Speaking from the perspective of your state and its water management institutions, what are the most important issues that you are likely to face in the next 10–15 years? Please do not discuss short-term operational problems. In many instances it was difficult to distinguish a state’s water issues from the water resources research that is needed to address them. Nonetheless, it was clear that important issues span a wide range of topics. Those issues/topics that were mentioned by more than one state include continuing need for better data collection meeting the goals of the Endangered Species Act dealing with future climate change how to manage groundwater mining how to take surface water–groundwater interactions into account when setting policy dealing with droughts and floods capturing recharge various water quality issues, particularly emerging contaminants and pathogens Other issues of concern to the states include interstate compact compliance issues, adjudication of water rights, dam safety/aging structures and finding cost-effective ways to deal with infrastructure, vegetation management, land subsidence due to water withdrawals, sedimentation of reservoirs, growing water demand, treatment and disposal of brine from desalination plants, exotic species invasions, and Total Maximum Daily Loads and the general problem of nonpoint source pollution. 3. What kinds of research would be most helpful in providing the knowledge and technology needed to address these long-term issues?
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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research Below are abridged responses listed by the category of research. No attribution is given for the contributing agency because in a number of instances the same or very similar suggestions were made by multiple agencies. However, in other instances, the comment reflects the views of only one agency representative. Note that almost all of the state representatives mentioned the need for better hydrologic data, even though it was explained that the committee and this report are not considering data collection per se to be a research activity. It is acknowledged in Chapter 5 that research efforts are often limited by the availability of high-quality data. Data Collection Better and more reliable stream gaging is needed. Better basic hydrologic data are needed, especially in real time. Research is needed on how to improve stream gaging, e.g., by using remote sensing and tomographic methods. Soil moisture data collection, as well as research to improve this, is needed. Monitoring of land subsidence was voiced as important but currently neglected. The extent and location of impervious surfaces need to be determined. Endangered Species Better science is needed to understand the water needs of listed endangered species, both aquatic and terrestrial. This comment was made by a large number of the participating state representatives, although each mentioned a different species. Surface Water–Groundwater Interactions A better understanding of surface water–groundwater interactions is needed to help the states answer such questions as: What have been the consequences of ignoring the long-term effects of developing groundwater that is connected to fully appropriated surface water? Is there an economic/ecological time horizon for consideration of interference with surface water, or is the establishment of hydraulic connection without regard to time and percent of interference sufficient to determine injury to senior rights? What methods are available, or could be developed, to give rapid reasonable estimates of return flow and consumptive uses? It was suggested that a comprehensive survey of surface water–groundwater interactions along major aquifer systems would be useful.
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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research Tools to Aid in Water Management Better hydrologic models are needed, for both surface water and groundwater. Research is needed on coupling climate models to models used to predict surface water availability. Improved models are needed for predicting surface water availability (runoff forecasting) at different time scales. Models that could provide an assessment of worst-case drought and flood scenarios would be useful. Research is needed on real-time water management decision making. Research is needed on how to accomplish water transfers. Research is needed on how to implement and make successful programs on water demand management. For example, what are the tools needed to promote the adoption of conservation practices? Planning is needed for aging dam structures. A better understanding is needed on how to mitigate sabotage of water systems. Water Conservation/Recharge/Drought Research is needed on wastewater reuse, particularly the required treatment. Research is needed on recycling and effective use of gray water and stormwater. Research is needed to develop more low-water-use crops. Social science research is needed on the severity of drought impacts and what institutional responses should be. Research is needed to better understand and quantify recharge, to develop recharge monitoring techniques, and to understand the effects of human activity on groundwater recharge (e.g., benefits of stormwater best management practices). Water Quality Research is needed on the water quality impacts of wastewater effluent. Models of the fate and transport of surface water and groundwater pollutants need to be developed, particularly for nonpoint sources of pollution. Research is needed on desalination and the environmental impacts of brine disposal. More information is needed on potential point-of-use devices. Research is needed on alternate methods of preventing sedimentation of reservoirs. Research is needed on the economic and environmental impacts of nutrient pollution and on alternative nondischarge uses of nutrients.
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Confronting the Nation’s Water Problems: The Role of Research Vegetation Research is needed on vegetation management and how it affects overland flow and groundwater recharge. Research is needed on the use of remote sensing to address vegetative management and stream gaging, particularly in ephemeral streams. Information is needed on the long-term impacts of invasive species (e.g., aquatic weeds) and how to prevent, control, and eradicate unwanted vegetation. Research is needed on how landscape changes brought about by human activity affect water quantity and quality. COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS The following observations were made by the committee following the presentations: States are no longer receiving federal money for collecting hydrologic data or receiving the data itself that can be applied to local problems. Thus, basic data collection has become an unfunded mandate for the states. State representatives feel that where the federal government owns a great deal of land (notably in the West), it needs to take the lead research role. Data collection at the federal level is also needed for consistency purposes. Meeting human water supply needs while meeting environmental needs will present challenges in almost all regions of the country. The Water Resources Research Institutes provide broad advantages and increase the stature of basic data but receive low federal funding. Many of the states’ representatives expressed disaffection with the federal water resources research enterprise. Thus, there need to be better linkages between the federal programs that generate and fund research and the state users of such research.
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