Sunday, January 04, 2009

Whiskey is for drinkin', water is for fightin'

The new issue (Jan-Feb) of Southwest Hydrology features six articles under a general theme of "Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress," with recommendations on a range of water issues. My print copy arrived last week but the digital copy has not yet been posted online.

Some of the proposals are likely to be controversial, such as establishing a National Water Plan, and a National Water Committee led by a Water Czar, reporting to the president. Even though much of the Plan and Committee's work would be in data collection, projections, research, and 'coordination,' it seems certain that such a proposal will be met with staunch resistance.

I once testified to Congress about the need to get similar data for the High Plains (Ogallala) aquifer from among the 8 states it underlies, so we could try to figure out what is happening to this critical regional water source. I was seated in the center of a table of opponents who accused me of a federal takeover of state and local water rights, and stealing the food from the plates of farm workers. As one reporter described in his story about the hearing, "whiskey is for drinkin'; water is for fightin'."

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