Saturday, November 19, 2011

Western States Water Council & Local Control

The Western States Water Council (WSWC) is the "water" committee of the Western Governors' Association (WGA) - an affiliation of 19 western states of the US and 3 Pacific islands under the US flag. 

The WSWC has been busy of late dealing with the issue of water needs and strategies for a sustainable future in the western US.  I found it interesting that their 2008 report on this very subject focuses pretty heavy on the issue of local control and an appropriate state posture to facilitate local actions.  More specifically the report says:

1)  States should not overtake local planning, but should set state policies that facilitate information flow from the state to the local entities and which also require local governments to adopt comprehensive plans that include water resources.  Wait a minute. States are not to overtake local plans - but require comprehensive water resource planning?

2)  States should offer technical/financial support for groups dealing with growth-related water issues.  Wait another minute. How can many local groups achieve sustainable use in the face of growth patterns and policies?

3)  States should work with locals to find innovative ways of allowing ag water transfers to urban uses while avoiding economic damage to the ag economies or the environment.  Sounds good where both uses exist, but what about in agricultural rural areas where urban uses are so insignificant as to be non-existant?

Then we find out that the WSWC is also working with 11 federal agencies on issues of better integration of land use and water supply planning - a group they call WestFAST (Western States Federal Agency Support Team).  Wonder if there are any local stakeholders on this team?

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