Wanted: Vision and Leadership to Ensure A Sustainable Water Future for America — Jay Famiglietti

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From National Geographic (Jay Famiglietti):

Let’s face facts. We can’t really manage water sustainably now, nor can we predict water availability in the future…It is absolutely essential that we determine how much water we have, as snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater; how much water we need, for humans and for the environment; and how these quantities will change with time, as climate and population changes, and as we adapt to a resource-limited future. We need to move forward with core observations and models that can utilize them to answer these questions, to advance prediction and to help prepare for the future.

How can we accomplish this? Since we lack a national water czar, policy or agency in the U. S., much of what I’m writing about here has fallen through the cracks for too long. There’s no one there to take ownership.

Consequently, vision and leadership are sorely needed. We need champions. Our elected officials must embrace this sustainable water challenge through awareness, commitment, and focus.

Research leadership, from our funding agencies through communities of investigators, must also take responsibility for making it happen. Communication of key results and research needs to elected officials and to the general public, though atypical for this group, is becoming increasingly important to heighten awareness

There’s a grand challenge on the table. We must aggressively tackle the frontiers of:

1)Exploration and mapping of Earth’s shallow crustal water environment, including its freshwater bathymetry, soils, hydrogeology, its water quantity and quality and synthesis of available information.

2) Advanced digital water data and information system capabilities for archiving and disseminating these data, with open, easy access to all information. New policies for sharing environmental data across political boundaries are also required.

3)Development of next-generation computer models that readily exploit this new information, as well as capabilities to evolve with rapid advances in computer power and the structure of the internet.

4)Clear pathways to transfer newly developed tools, observations and research results to water managers and practitioners, environmental decision makers, and a plan for communication to the public.

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