Trying to articulate water issues, provide discussion fodder, seek other ideas, broaden and educate a bit, and, and... well, solve the world's water problems.
Friday, September 18, 2009
UN Resolution on Transboundary Aquifers
I have just read the UN's recently adopted resolution RE: Transboundary Aquifers - underlying two or more states or countries. If we were to fully comply with this resolution for the Ogallala Aquifer, Kansas would be: 1) granted sovereignty over its portion of the aquifer; 2) obligated to use the aquifer in an equitable and reasonable and sustainable manner that maximizes the long-term benefits; and 3) required to develop a utilization plan factoring in population, social and economic needs, natural aquifer conditions, alternative supplies and the ecosystem - any of which can be weighted - so long as special regard is given to vital human needs.
Kansas would also be required to: 1) prevent harm to other states in its use of the aquifer or to the discharge zones located in other states; 2) take all steps to eliminate such harm to other states if occuring - in consultation with the affected states(s); 3) cooperate on the basis of sovereign equality with other states to attain equitable aquifer utilization and protection - establishing joint mechanisms for cooperation; and 4) exchange all relevant data and information - generating such data and information if not already known.
Kansas would be: 1) encouraged to enter into regional agreements with other state(s) for management purposes; 2) obligated to prevent and control pollution that may affect another state; 3) required to monitor our aquifer to accepatble standards (jointly with other states when possible); and 4) required to develop a management plan - jointly where appropariate.
Whenever Kansas does any activity that may affect another state, it must assess that activity, notify the affected state(s) and when disagreement occurs, consult with or negotiate eqitable solutions. This is especially vital in cases of emergencies - natural or human induced activities which will immently affect another state(s) - or when vital human needs are affected. All states would be bound by international law to protect the aquifer in cases of armed conflict. (IMHO not even the Texans would resort to this!) :)
Whew. It's not clear how in the US the encouraged cooperative agreements between states would be done. This sounds more like an interstate compact to me, but I guess less formal MOA's between states would not be precluded. I asked about such an informal agreement with our neighboring GMD in Colorado once early in my career and was told definitively that it would require an interstate compact - only possible with the consent of Congress.
Anyway, lots of good ideas in the resolution, but... I wonder how closely the agreement between Utah and Nevada on the Snake Valley Aquifer follows this UN roadmap?