ation facilities. The most significant revenue generation is from sale of hydropower.
Today we are in a much different economic situation and have different priorities for our water resources. Now, virtually all of the desirable dam sites have been developed, and flood control and navigation works exist on river systems throughout the country. These projects have brought major benefits to the citizens of the United States, but our past approaches to managing water resources also have imposed significant costs. They have at times encouraged inefficient practices such as wasteful use of water and energy and caused problems such as overdevelopment in floodplains; degraded water quality from return flows from urban, industrial, agricultural, and mining activities; and radically altered stream-flow hydrology due to hydropower generation. Current efforts to reexamine the structure and funding of the water agencies in light of the needs of the twenty-first century are appropriate.
Organizational fragmentation is often a major obstacle to effective watershed management. To begin with, divisions among levels of government—local, state, federal—may generate genuine disputes over the proper locus of taxing, spending, or regulatory authority. In addition, each governmental level may have different agencies pursuing apparent cross purposes. One state agency may advocate a new dam while another might oppose it; one local agency might advocate locating a new sewer outfall at a certain place while another may oppose it.
Such apparent contradictions among agencies are inevitable in a governmental structure that, by design, represents varied stakeholder groups. However, in general the various levels of government are in pursuit of common goals. Certainly, those empowered to act may have some jealousies about their authorities, but these conflicts are far less significant than the conflicts that arise over how the land and water of a watershed might be used. For example, a fisheries management organization will view (correctly) a decision by a water and sewer authority to locate a sewer outfall near an oyster ground as having a negative effect on their goals of promoting oyster production and harvester's income.
Governments must choose between legitimate but competing public purposes. Thus, general governments decide between the water and sewer authority's preference for locating a sewer outfall near an oyster ground, and the preferences of the fisheries organization.
Within this structure, decisions allocating watershed resources among competing uses are made through a bargaining process among the same levels of government as well as vertical organizations. Policy for any action results from the formal and informal ways organizations and their leaders seek to influence each other—by technical studies (economic assessments, environmental impact statements, water quality measurements, etc.), identification of policy constraints, exchanges of support, and exchanges of both threats and promises.
Throughout the nation's history, new agencies and new complexes of organizations have been created to make decisions about land and water use, and exist-