Partnership In Stewardship Conference

Remarks Delivered By:
John W. Keys, III, Commissioner

Los Angeles, CA

November 16, 2003

Never before in my career have I been a part of a gathering of this magnitude to learn about and share partnership ideas. It is an honor to be with you today.

Partnerships are the way of the future. Nowhere is this more evident than in Secretary Norton's Water 2025 initiative.

Water 2025 is based on the realities we all face today in the West: Explosive population growth; reoccurring drought; over-allocated river basins; aging water facilities; and ineffective crisis management.

Water 2025 can help by taking a look at areas of the West where conflict and crises over water can be predicted and focusing resources and expertise to prevent this from happening, and by encouraging people to come together to collaborate on problem solving.

Water 2025 relies on four key tools that can help prevent crises over water in the West: Conservation, efficiencies, and markets; Collaboration; Researching less expensive ways to treat water, such as desalination; and, Removing institutional barriers and increasing interagency cooperation.

We just finished holding 8 regional meetings on Water 2025 across the West, and over 3000 people responded by attending. There was a 9 th meeting recently in Denver that focused on science and technology. We have received many positive comments and have the support of the President, who has asked for $11 million for the effort in his FY04 Budget Request to Congress.

Water 2025 exemplifies President Bush's balanced approach in addressing natural resource issues by protecting the environment while meeting the needs of the American people.

Until we try to solve today's water problems through innovative, collaborative, and science and technology based solutions, we cannot begin to protect our ability to use our precious water resources for future generations.

Working in partnership at the Federal, State, and local levels will result in successes in stretching existing supplies and finding alternative supplies in the future.

Collaboration is the key.

Working together as partners through Water 2025, we can make a difference in preventing crises and conflict over water for years to come.

In the final analysis, long-lasting solutions to chronic water shortages will come from the local level, not from the Federal government - but from the people whose lives are most affected.

Involving local citizens and their representatives in decision-making and arriving at local solutions is central to President Bush's and Secretary Norton's approach.

And this conference represents this Administration's commitment to those local partnerships

Reclamation has many examples of successful partnerships.

Reclamation itself was founded on partnerships - partnerships with Westerners whose livelihoods depend on the water and power we deliver to them on a daily basis. We at Reclamation are especially proud of these relationships developed over the last century, and look forward to continuing to work with our contractor-partners well into the future.

Another example of success is on the North Platte River in Wyoming, where our partnerships have

Restored flows in 4 mile section below Pathfinder Dam improved habitat for fish, access for recreation

Required extensive consultation and cooperation to build a new bridge, install a low flow valve, acquire public access and develop channel habitat improvement structures

The process took 7 years and involved multiple federal, state, local and private parties to collectively achieve successful results

In the Upper Colorado River Recovery Implementation Program, we are working through a collaborative effort to recover four endangered fish species while providing continued water resource developments in full compliance with the ESA.

This partnership relies on a consensus-based, collaborative decision-making process involving power users, environmental communities, Federal and State agencies and WAPA

Over 700 water projects have received successful ESA consultations through this effort

Reclamation has strong State and County Recreation partnerships Our projects receive 90 million recreation visits annually. To provide management for and enhance these visits, Reclamation has partnered with 70 non-federal entities, mostly State and county parks departments.

Those visitors contribute $6 billion a year to the local economies. These partnerships are so important because this is how the majority of our citizens across the country experience the direct benefits of our federal water resource projects.

We also have a long history of successful partnerships for special populations.

With WOW on the Water , Reclamation is partnering with the American Recreation Coalition to develop a program manual and journal to teach youth about important aspects of water conservation and how to experience water related activities that are fun, like boating and fishing.

Another wonderful partnership, CAST, or Catch a Special Thrill, was formed in 1991 and is a partnership of volunteers who provide disabled and disadvantaged kids with a great experience fishing in the outdoors.

Conducting almost 50 events a year in 32 states, the CAST program also provides an increasing awareness of disabled and disadvantaged children in our communities; an appreciation of natural resources; and, a great opportunity for cooperation among government agencies and local interest groups within our areas.

As you can tell, we at Reclamation are proud of our history of successful partnering. It is an honor and an opportunity for us to be part of this conference, and we look forward to learning and sharing with you.

Thank you.