Congressional Action Needed To Provide a Better Focus on Water-Related Research

Gao ID: CED-81-87 June 5, 1981

The Nation faces serious water problems in the West and certain other areas of the country. Developing and implementing technologies that conserve or augment water supplies could help alleviate these problems. These efforts and other water-related research and development activities are fragmented among 28 Federal organizations that plan to spend about $380 million during fiscal year 1981.

A comparative assessment of conservation and augmentation technologies is needed to establish water research priorities and allocate the research funds. GAO found considerable disagreement as to which technologies have the most potential for solving water supply and quality problems. There appears to be no correlation between the potential of some technologies and their relative level of Federal funding. Before assessing the various technologies, regional and local water problems and potential alternative solutions should be identified. The comparative assessment should also identify and evaluate the impact of technical, environmental, legal, and social obstacles on each technology's potential. Formal plans should be developed based on the results of the comparative assessment. GAO found that some agencies had not prepared formal plans, others had prepared plans that lacked many elements, plans did not provide for periodic independent evaluations, and many plans lacked specific, measurable objectives and estimated completion dates. GAO examined the advantages and disadvantages of various organizations having the responsibility for coordinating water research.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Hugh J. Wessinger Team: General Accounting Office: Community and Economic Development Division Phone: (202) 275-5489

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