In Search of a National Water Policy: Learning from Katrina, Dry Canals, and Pallid Sturgeon
March 1 , 2006. Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture
Unless one considers the jumble of laws, regulations, and political guidance that has been promulgated at federal, state, and local levels to be a cohesive whole, the United States is operating without any form of a national water policy at a time when it faces significant challenges. Hurricane Katrina pointed out the catastrophic nature of one aspect of our approach to water and the need, in the reconstruction of Southern Louisiana, to deal with water in a more comprehensive manner. Couple Katrina with ongoing conflicts across the country over water use in major river basins and the steady decline in the population of sentinel species such as the Pacific salmon and the pallid sturgeon of the Missouri River and the national approach to water appears rudderless. As the results of global warming make themselves known in the presence or absence of water (and floods) and point out our lack of preparedness for the future, steps need to be taken to launch a national water assessment and to develop a bipartisan federal-state water policy initiative.
Galloway, a former Army Corps brigadier general and former dean at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, has testified before several congressional committees and has been quoted frequently since Katrina on the rebuilding of New Orleans and the need for a national flood plan.