A recently published report by a coalition of environmental and business groups warns that unless current practices are changed, the United States will face a national fresh water crisis in the near future. The report recommends the formation of a national commission on water to define and make recommendations on how to address looming water challenges, including (i) quality and supply; (ii) competing urban, rural and ecosystem needs; (iii) climate change; (iv) environmental and public health impacts; and (v) a variety of economic implications. According to the report, 41 percent of U.S. fresh water withdrawals are for thermoelectric power generation––primarily coal, nuclear and natural gas. Another 37 percent is used for agricultural irrigation.
The report recommends addressing these issues with those raised by climate change because they are interrelated. It also recommends that EPA and other responsible agencies make near-term improvements to key fresh water policies and that stakeholders become more active in discussions of fresh water-related issues.