Policy ForumWater

Water strategies for the next administration

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Science  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6312, pp. 555-556
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaj2221

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Issues around fresh water are not particularly high on the U.S. political agenda. They should be. Water problems directly threaten food production, fisheries, energy generation, foreign policy, public health, and international security. Access to safe, sufficient, and affordable water is vital to well-being and to the economy. Yet U.S. water systems, once the envy of the world, are falling into disrepair, and new threats loom. Drinking water disasters in Flint, Michigan, droughts and floods increasingly attributable to anthropogenic climate change (1), and growing violence worldwide over water offer a glimpse of what we face unless new efforts are made to address failing infrastructure, worsening climate conditions, and ineffective policies and regulations (2). Yet, if there is any issue that offers the opportunity for nonpartisan agreement, it is to create and implement a 21st-century national water policy. In that vein, I detail national and international water challenges and recommendations for the next U.S. president, administration, and Congress.