Drinking Water. Drinking water policy should focus on how best to ensure that Americans have clean and safe water to drink. Currently, many communities are forced to spend limited resources to meet misguided and scientifically questionable federal mandates. States and localities are better able to set priorities based on their particular needs. Moreover, drinking water policy would benefit from a more market-driven model, one that allows for more private innovation in the provision of drinking water services.
Water Quality. Waterways throughout the United States have suffered from various pollution problems because they have long been held in common, so no one was in charge of keeping them clean. Congress passed the Clean Water Act in the 1970s, which has been a mixed blessing. While many waterways have seen improvements, the program is very bureaucratic, and it has promoted too much expensive litigation that focuses on paperwork violations rather than on improving water quality. The science underlying many of the regulations is weak. In addition, parts of the Act have proven ineffective, such as programs addressing non-point source water pollution (water runoff from lands). Policy makers should look at innovative, market-based systems for advancing water quality.