Water Availability and Watershed Management Action Plan 2011-2015
There is no substitute for fresh water nor are there replacements for its essential role in maintaining human health, agriculture, industry, and ecosystem integrity. Throughout history, a key measure of civilization's success has been the degree to which human ingenuity has harnessed freshwater resources for the public good.
As the Nation was established and expanded, it flourished in part because of its abundant and readily available water and natural resources. With expansion to the arid west, investments in the use of limited water resources became critical to economic growth and prosperity. In the 19th century, water supplies for new cities were secured by building reservoirs and water distribution systems. The 20th century was characterized by pivotal accomplishments in U.S. water resource development and engineering. Investments in dams, water infrastructure, irrigation, and water treatment provided safe, abundant, and inexpensive sources of water, aided flood management and soil conservation, and dramatically improved hygiene, health, and economic prosperity. The U.S. water resources and its water technologies were the envy of the world.