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20 Va. Envtl. L.J. 107 (2001)
Federal Water Policy: An Idea Whose Time Will (Finally) Come

handle is hein.journals/velj20 and id is 119 raw text is: FEDERAL WATER POLICY: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME WILL
(FINALLY) COME
Janet C. Neuman*
I. WHY WE NEED A FEDERAL WATER POLICY ...................................... 108
A.   The Importance of Water to the Nation's Economy and Health ....... 108
B.   The N ation's W ater  Under Stress ........................................................ 110
C.   The Federal Investment in Water Resources ....................................... 113
II. WHY WE DON'T HAVE A FEDERAL WATER POLICY ........................ 114
III. KEY    POLICY CHARACTERISTICS: SIMPLE, SCIENTIFIC, AND
S U ST A IN A B L E  ............................................................................................. 1 16
IV .  C O N C LU SIO N   ................................................................................................. 117
Here it is, the year 2001. Let's pull a few random cards out of the
deck of federal law and see what we find. Here's one: apparently, we
have a national policy promoting family well-being that all federal
agencies are to take into account in assessing the impact of their
activities.' And here's another: we may soon have a federal policy,
indeed a bill of rights, regarding on-time departures and arrivals for
air travelers.' Surely family well-being and convenient air travel are
important and, arguably, even appropriate concerns of the federal
government. But what about the nation's water resources? Here it is,
the year 2001, and we still do not have a coherent federal water policy,
in spite of repeated calls for action over more than half a century. Of
course, hundreds of federal laws and regulations govern a plethora of
water related programs and activities. Even using extremely general
categories, such     as  water   supply, pollution, dams, hydropower
* Associate Professor of Law, Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College.
Professor Neuman is also co-director of the Northwest Water Law and Policy Project, at the
Northwestern School of Law, and is president of the Oregon Water Trust.
I See Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of Oct. 21, 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-277, Sec.
651,, I 2 Stat. 2681-528.
2 See Robert Reno, Today's Air-Travel Hassles Weren't Predicted, TilE I)ALIAS MORNIN(;
NEWS, Aug. 21, 20(E, at s9A, available at'20( ) WL 258F.18585; William P. Bohlen, Airline Summit
Fields Renewed Service Vows, Cii1. Titi., Aug. '2, 2(tK), at 3, available at 2tXO WL 3699686
(discussing airlines trying to provide in alternative to Congress, instead of imposing a
passenger's bill of rights).
- See 13 8 CONt;. RiE'. S17667,17682 (daily ed. Oct. 8, 1992) (statement of Sen. Hatfield)
(lamenting the sheer lack of coordination of our Nation's Federal water policies and the
absence of any comprehensive water strategy); see also CIIARIU.S H. W. Fos'TF:H AND PEI'Frl P.
Ro(;I's, FIEI)ERAL WA'IER POIICY: TOWARDI AN A(;ENDA FIOR Ac'ION: A REI'ORI' tOF T ii.
HARVAR) WA'I'E R POiIcY PROJETI' 17-37 (1988) (detailing the history of policy commissions
calling fiw federal water policy reforms).

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