Trump Administration Issues Executive Order on “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure”

This week the Trump Administration continued its efforts to streamline and modernize regulations surrounding our nation’s infrastructure, now including America’s water resources and accompanying infrastructure.

On October 13, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order outlining reforms to the organization of agencies and agency efforts towards water management and infrastructure.

It reads: “Abundant, safe, and reliable supplies of water are critical to quality of life for all Americans, fueling our economy, providing food for our citizens and the world, generating energy, protecting public health, supporting rich and diverse wildlife and plant species, and affording recreational opportunities. While America is blessed with abundant natural resources, those resources must be effectively managed, and our water infrastructure must be modernized to meet the needs of current and future generations.

Executive departments and agencies (agencies) that engage in water-related matters, including water storage and supply, water quality and restoration activities, water infrastructure, transportation on our rivers and inland waterways, and water forecasting, must work together where they have joint or overlapping responsibilities. This order will ensure that agencies do that more efficiently and effectively to improve our country’s water resource management, modernize our water infrastructure, and prioritize the availability of clean, safe, and reliable water supplies.”

The executive order keeps in the vein of other regulatory changes by the Administration, particularly those to the National Environmental Protection Act and the EPA’s Cost-Benefit Analysis protocols, by consolidating management and clarifying objectives while removing duplicative regulation to improve outcomes.

A major portion of the executive order is the establishment of the Water Subcabinet. Secretaries of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, and Army will join the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency as co-chairs on the Subcabinet.

The objective of the Subcabinet will be to streamline the Federal government’s approach to water resources while upgrading water infrastructure, public health safeguards, and creating jobs. Another priority will be the development of a national strategy to improve water storage and supply, drought resiliency, and source water protections. Additionally, advancement in water data management, research, modeling, and forecasting will fall to the Subcabinet.

Water is more essential a resource than any other to the wellbeing of Americans and the Trump Administration deserves recognition for addressing it head on. Moreover, the Administration has repeatedly shown a sharp eye to removing duplicative regulations enacted by prior Administration that bodes well for the effectiveness of this executive order.

Simultaneously, the Administration has put an emphasis on bolstering the water workforce during the toughest of times for many. As infrastructure buildout in so many industries, especially energy, has shown – it is a jobs creator.

GAIN is looking forward to the enactment and success of President Trump’s executive order.

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