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Massachusetts Ocean Management & National Water Policy

July 9, 2009

From the desk of Ms. Green Quick Fixes

Despite all the drudgery that a rainy June has caused, July is proving to be an exciting time in Massachusetts and nationally in the world of water—sea water and water resources that is.

The state has established a Draft Ocean Management Plan that will govern Bay State waters from the shoreline up to three miles out to sea, an effort that is leading the nation in coastal water resources policy. Ocean management planning is needed to fairly govern private projects that could encroach upon public coastal resources. Commercial fishing, wind farm development, sewage projects, and all manner of power projects need uniform guidance for oversight and approval so that natural resources—like fisheries and fish habitats—and public uses—like surfcasting and sailing—can be protected. The comment period has begun and runs through August.

On the national level, the end of the month will mark Congressional conversation around a National Water Policy—something I am thrilled to be a part of. Advocates of a National Water Policy focus on water rights issues in regions that experience water shortages.

On Earth, the blue planet, only 1% of all of our water is freshwater and forever must be shared by all creatures, inhabitants, cities, and states. But in places like the naturally arid Southwest, uneven allocations of Colorado River water (a Compact that dates back to the 19th century), and a high draw on groundwater resources have left many rural and suburban communities as well as Native American reservations literally in the dust. This situation is echoed throughout the world—from Atlanta, Georgia, to the Yangtze region of China, to the Goa River in India—where cities carelessly consume vast amounts and outlaying areas struggle to get the most out of every H2O drop.

But even in Massachusetts, we can appreciate that some communities (like the town of Danvers) experience water bans even in the height of the rain that we’ve had so much of recently. Just as in the Southwest, water rich states like ours feel the impact of the following reality:

Water is not always available when and where populations need it!

That’s why it is an essential component of green living that we become water-wise—installing low-flow showerheads, watering gardens sparingly early or late in the day, incorporating drought-tolerant plants in our yards instead of miles of grass, and tightening leaks throughout the house—especially those notoriously greedy toilet leaks.

And a National Water Policy will guide states and regions in better allocating water resources and in improving land planning, making development sustainable and water resources conscious. It will engage planners in considering regional needs and incorporating the most advanced technological solutions—such as solar-powered desalination and water reuse with ultrafiltration—that maximize use and fair allocation of the precious freshwater supplies that we have.

Read the Massachusetts Ocean Management & National Water Policy.

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