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Legislation & Policy Committee Meeting Summary June 26, 2019 Conference Call

  1. Call to Order—Chair Kirsten Wallace; UMRBA called to order at 9:03 a.m. Central.
  • Introductions of Participants on the call:  Kirsten Wallace, Chair, UMRBA; Sue Lowry, ICWP Executive Director; Tom Littlepage, Alabama OWR; Pooja Kanwar, MN DNR; Matt Unruh, KWO; Katherine Zitsch, ARC; Amy Shallcross, DRBC.  Joined by Don Cline, Bob Joseph, Bill Guertal and Adrienne Bartlewitz for the USGS portion of the call. 
  • Call with Don Cline (Don joined the call at :30 past for his discussion)

Here is the list of topics discussed with Don:

  • National Water Quality Assessment program:  Don explained that he felt there was redundancy by having a separate Water Quality mission area within the Water Discipline and that water quality observations should fit with other observations and the same for assessments. NaWQA is nearing the end of its cyclical data collection—a couple of basins have been accelerated and the entire NaQWA program will be completed in next 2-3 budget cycles. This is not be interpreted as any decrease in the importance of water quality within the USGS, only an organizational shift.  NaQWA did a good job of planning the timing of data collection and the completion of related repots.  Don would like to incorporate this type of planning into other aspects of the Water Discipline. 
  • We asked Don if there should be any change in the “ask” of our stakeholder support letter for streamgaging now that the Water Discipline’s budget is down to only 2 major line items.  He felt that it should be clear to the appropriations committees that any increase to the federal priorities gaging program would be money added to the Water Observation Program. 
  • WUDR: Tom Littlepage summarized the committee’s feelings on the importance of the WUDR program to the states and the partnership in developing better water use data at the state level.  Don mentioned the important piece of the water budget filled by water use and how in general that is the portion of the water budget we least understand nationwide. The committee informed Don of the support letter for WUDR that ICWP had sent to Molly Maupin requesting some analysis of the state-by-state information gathered by the initial WUDR grants. 
  • GOES Satellite Bandwidth and proposed rulemaking by FCC: Both the USGS and NOAA are very concerned with the FCC’s proposed action.  A meeting between Director Reilly, the head of NOAA and the FCC director is being planned to convey the potential impact to natural resources management should the bandwidth be auctioned. 
  • ACWI: Don said a “holding pattern” was the best description.  He and Deputy Tim Petty were prepared to move forward with a meeting soon, but the EO just released encouraging the downsizing of the number of FACA committees by 1/3 caught everyone by surprise.  Don noted that the SWAC has been disbanded and the Water Sub-cabinet is now the only coordination among agencies with water missions.  The Water Sub-cabinet did participate together at a recent Hypoxia Task Force meeting. 
  • Mobile Annual Meeting:  Bob Joseph will work with us regarding any USGS participation we need on our panel presentations. 

The committee is very appreciative of Don’s time and willingness to discuss a number of issues.  We agreed it would be good to hold this forum about every 6-8 months for updates on USGS activities at Don’s level of management. 

  • Completing a survey for priorities/topics from full ICWP membership-plan to send early July. 

 Kirsten described how the survey concept came about as we don’t have participation on this committee by all of the members of ICWP and we may be missing some of their legislative or policy priorities.  Specific questions with suggested topics to choose from may get better response than open-ended questions on the survey.  We will also ask for Policy Analyst contacts from each of the members and prospects as they may be located in other agencies or Governor’s offices rather than in the water agency. The Water Data and Science committee would like to discuss items to include on the survey on their next call which is set for July 25. A work group of Kirsten, Sue, Peter Evans and Tom Littlepage will discuss survey logistics, such as using Survey Monkey, and possible questions.   

  • Other items for the Committee’s consideration
    • Ideas for Speakers/Topics for Mobile, AL Annual Meeting Oct. 8-10

During the PAS panel, ask USACE for clarification regarding RD James recent comments about funding only being used for flood control projects into the future. 

  • Set next call or webinar—Thursday, August 8that 9 a.m. Central

List of Topics Previously for Future Reference:

Priority Topics for Committee:

  1. Dept. of Interior Re-organization
    1. USGS Streamgaging support—getting letter to more audiences and reviewing stakeholder list for omissions 
    1. National Water Model—promoting water supply forecasting capabilities
    1. Drought Planning/Preparedness-NIDIS Support (& the DEWS)
      1. Drought Forum in Washington DC July 30-31
    1. USACE Partnership Agreements liability clause
      1. Other items for a possible WRDA2020