Water Issues Facing the Nation

An Overview Gao ID: CED-82-83 May 6, 1982

As part of a continuing assessment of areas of national concern and interest, GAO reviewed water-related programs and activities for planning, developing, and managing the Nation's water resources, including the development, operation, and maintenance for the national waterway system.

While basic water issues never really change, their relative importance does. Presently, five issues have been identified by GAO as requiring immediate attention: (1) what the Federal Government can do to help the Nation meet its water needs and make optimal use of its existing water resources; (2) whether water projects are being developed and rehabilitated in the most economical and efficient manner; (3) whether water projects are efficiently, effectively, economically, and safely operated and maintained; (4) whether the Nation's navigation system can be developed, operated, maintained, and managed in more effective, economical, and efficient ways; and (5) whether cost allocations, repayment, and financing policies for federal water resources projects are effectively meeting today's needs. GAO feels that, during the next decade, the following factors will greatly impact on national water resources matters: (1) the emphasis on reducing federal spending; (2) the movement toward greater cost recovery from water project users and also toward a greater state, local, and private role in developing, maintaining, and financing water resources and navigation projects; (3) the increasing threat of major water shortages; and (4) the impact of the energy crisis.

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