Water is a unique natural resource in that it constantly flows through the hydrologic cycle. Significant amounts of water are diverted and placed to beneficial use, while significant amounts are also left in rivers, lakes and groundwater basins to support future use and other environmental resources, such as wildlife, fisheries, natural landscapes and aesthetics. This is what is thought to be our current water use regime we are far sustainable with our current practice. Both the incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney largely ignored the topic during the presidential campaign, as have the moderators at the three televised debate (everyone is ignoring the huge elephant in the corner). Below are points in which each Presidential Candidate has addressed water.
Democratic: Barak Obama (Lacked a Game Plan)
- Obama Stated that “We are working to improve water quality, restore rivers, and critical watersheds, and we are making headways in ensuring that our nations water best serve its people.”
- Democrats will continue to working to ensure the integrity of the waters American’s rely on everyday for drinking, swimming, and fishing by supporting initiative to restore our rivers, oceans, and watershed.
- Obama’s failed jobs bill proposed to congress included funds for a National Infrastructure Bank. That would provide low interest financing for water, energy, and transportation project.
- Increased investments in water conservation and infrastructure
- Sustainable infrastructure approach still faces extensive opposition and more often they turn to the traditional grey infrastructure.
- Improve access to drinking water for rural areas and poor communities along the U.S.- Mexico border.
- International development, Obama hopes to increase the access of clean water (primarily Saharan Africa).
Republican: Mitt Romney (Extensive Action Plan)
- Wants to improve the out of date water laws so that businesses and communities are shouldering the burden of “excessively costly and inflexible approaches.”
- Romney views infrastructure networks as a critical for economic growth through international competitiveness and national security
- Romney’s goal is to modernize federal water law. Through a combination of incentives, market based programs, and cooperative conservation measures will improve the water quality of our lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal environment.
- Recognized issues with the water- energy-food nexus but did not set out any plans to make a change.
- The rest of Romney concerns toward water are stated in the Republican Platform
- Safety and availability of water supply
- See water as a component of national infrastructure same as roads, bridges, ports, and so on.
- Investment areas include: Levees and inland waterways (to renew communities and attract business-> creating jobs.)
- Commoditizing water rights. However stand with growers and producers in defense of their water rights against attempts by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand Jurisdiction over water.
- Making all coastal waters off limits to energy exploration.
- Reduce air and waterways pollution and return them to the healthier state they were in decades previous.
Other Issues on the Ballot:
- San Francisco, Ca. needs to decide whether the city should draw up plans to end a century-old dispute over the environmental cost of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (which supplies 61% (2.6 million people)of San Francisco’s drinking water).Voters will decide if the city should think about drinking the reservoir to restore the valley.
- The financial burden of the cost of the O’Shaughnessy Dam and replacing both its storage capacity and the energy it generate would cost between $3 to $10 Billion, according to estimates by the state of California. This is by far the biggest water related item on any U.S. Ballot but its not the only one.
- Voting Yes on Proposition F does not mean that the Dam will be removed, but rather it asks San Francisco voters if the city should spend $8 million to develop a plan to shut it down. (some insight into the reasoning behind this prop.)
- Coastal Californian Residents (Santa Cruz) will be deciding on the future of their water supply. To approve or reject any future plans for a desalination plant.
- Wichita, Kansas will decide whether the city should add fluoride to its water supply.
- Aspen, Colorado decides whether or not the city should continue to pursue there hydroelectric project.
- Wauconda, Illinois decides if they should extend $41 million bond measures and improve the pipeline system to bring in water from Lake Michigan.
- Mansfield, Ohio is considering blocking the development of wells that store waste water from hydraulic fracturing.
- Ashville, North Carolina voted on a referendum asking if the city should sell or lease it water treatment and distribution system.
- Oklahoma voting on the creation of Water Infrastructure Credit Enhancement Reserve Fund. Which would authorize up to $300 million in general obligation bonds for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, expanding a program initiated by the state legislature in the 1980’s.
- Maine will be voting on a smaller bond program where the state wants to issue $7.9 million in bonds for drinking water and wastewater, which would make them eligible for nearly $40 million in federal grants.
- Infrastructure investments have turned away from the surge of government spending which it received in 1970 following the Clean Water Act and heavily relied on ratepayer dollars.
- 2010 Survey from ITT, a manufacturing company based in White Plains, New York, found 85% of voters agreed that federal, state or local governments should invest in water system improvements and 63% were willing to pay 11% more on their water bills to do so.
- However last week General Electric revealed 84% of people surveyed thought water resources should be a national priority.