Americans from coast to coast have been suffering through one of the worst droughts in decades. Many blame erratic weather conditions for water shortages, while others point to population growth. But that’s not the whole story. Another major contributor to our water problems is the way we develop land. As we pave over more and more wetlands and forests, this new report shows that we are depleting our water supplies. It’s not only the arid West that is facing critical shortages. The rapidly suburbanizing Southeast, blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible water supply, is now in serious trouble, as are many other formerly water-rich regions of the country.
The Enabling Source Water Protection Project for North Carolina was initiated with a workshop in August 2009. Robin Smith, Assistant Secretary, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, addressed more than 40 national and state leaders in water protection, land conservation and local planning, pointing out that “North Carolina is expected to grow in population by as much as 30 percent by the year 2030.” She then presented a challenge to the group by stating that both water quantity and quality are “vitally important to the future of the state.”
After a year of research and discovery, a national team of conservation, smart growth and drinking water experts identified ten key action strategies that the State of New Hampshire could take to improve efforts to protect the state’s drinking water supplies.
For more than a year, a national project team composed of land use, conservation and water quality experts engaged a diverse group of Maine state agencies, public water systems, and others interested in conserving land to protect water resources in a series of workshops that form the foundation of an action plan to provide guidance regarding steps the state can take to align land use and drinking water programs to better protect drinking water sources.
Our goal in working with staff of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Water Resources Council was to develop ideas to improve uptake and effectiveness of the Enabling Source Water Protection program, in order to ensure that the program could deliver on its promise of improved water quality – including a cleaner source of drinking water for millions of people in Ohio and parts of several other states and Canadian provinces.