Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega laments the incredibly disjointed and ad hoc approach to freshwater management in the United States.
"It would be easy, even tempting, to blame the turbulent state of the nation's water affairs on the Bush administration. Certainly, they've provided ample cause: gutting, and failing to enforce, the Clean Water Act, for instance, and, at best, simply ignoring the obvious problems of floods, droughts, and hurricanes, of shifting weather patterns, of contaminants old and new, and a myriad of other water disasters through eight long years.
The truth is, though, that scientists, engineers, and environmental planners have been advising Congress for years that holistic watershed management is the only rational and practical way to address complex water quality and quantity issues...Notwithstanding this long-term chorus of expert advice, our elected officials have merrily continued to legislate piecemeal, funding billions of dollars of local water-related projects without regard to their overall value or impact.
One could argue that a fractured, ad hoc, haphazard mish-mash of random, inconsistent, and stove-piped projects, administered by a hodge-podge of 36 congressional committees and more than 20 agencies in accordance with outdated and inadequate laws constitutes a national water policy. A de facto one. But with so many ignored aha moments followed by ever-more-frequent and disastrous uh-oh moments, it seems we could use a policy that's not quite so dependent upon sandbags and firehoses."