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Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable

TERMS OF REFERENCE

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable has provided this revised Terms of Reference, which is considered Draft until it can be approved by the members of ACWI at the 2003 Annual Meeting
June 2, 2003

  1. Official designation and authority.

    The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) is a subgroup of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) Hence, the Roundtable is part of the Water Information Coordination Program mandated by OMB Memorandum No. M-92-01, dated December 10, 1991. The Roundtable reports to the ACWI and operates under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), as outlined in this Terms of Reference.

  2. Purpose, background, scope, and functions.

    1. Purpose.

      The purpose of the Roundtable is to provide an open forum for exchanging ideas and information to foster collaboration on ways to manage water resources in such a way that the resource and its uses may be sustained over the long term. The Roundtable has adopted the Brundtland Commission (1987) definition of sustainable development as a starting point for Roundtable discussions, with the full expectation that the many different dimensions of water sustainability will be a focal point of the Roundtable's activities:

      "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."--- Brundtland Commission, 1987

      Roundtable participants are committed to interdisciplinary, inter-jurisdictional, and cross-ownership collaboration that identifies and supports national, state, and field-level activities to sustain water resources. Roundtable discussions and activities will focus in part on criteria, indicators, and methods for assessing the sustainability of water resources, as well as exploring, promoting, and improving how this information is used to promote sustainable water resource management.

    2. Background.

      The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable is one of a number of on-going efforts to develop ways of collecting, organizing, and using information on conditions and trends to promote sustainable development. The Roundtable grew from the Interagency Working Group on Sustainable Development Indicators, which published the report Sustainable Development in the United States; an Experimental Set of Indicators. The Roundtable has also benefited from the experience of similar Roundtables on forests, rangelands, and minerals and energy.

      State governments, communities, corporations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have also independently undertaken studies on the development of sustainability indicators. This Roundtable will discuss ways to coordinate and integrate the results of these various efforts so that the indicators and related data can be made accessible and useful to people in a wide range of contexts.

    3. Scope.

      In practice, the scope of the Roundtable's activities and accomplishments will depend on the initiatives and priorities of the participants, as well as the availability of resources. Issues the Roundtable will likely explore include:

      • Contributing to the development of a list of national-level ecological, social, and economic criteria and indicators along with measurement protocols that characterize water resources and their uses;

      • Identifying existing data sets and measurement protocols that can be used to conduct assessments using the criteria and indicators;

      • Contributing to the development of a national data inventory framework from which governmental and non-governmental agencies, tribes, other organizations, and universities collaboratively access and evaluate water-resources indicator data from across the United States;

      • Identifying data-collection and research needs to characterize and improve the sustainability of the Nation's water resources; and

      • Contributing to the development of a collaborative 2005 report on the sustainability of water resources and uses in the United States, utilizing the criteria and indicators.

      However, the Roundtable is specifically charged with reporting to the Advisory Committee on Water Information and other interests by October 2005 on conditions and trends of the Nation's water resources that affect the long-term sustainability of these resources. The Roundtable may suggest research studies, policies, strategic objectives, and priorities considered potentially useful in inventorying or monitoring water-resource sustainability. The Roundtable also may issue periodic reports before and after October 2005 related to water-resource sustainability.

    4. Functions.

      The specific functions and tasks of the Roundtable include the following:

      1. To serve as a national forum for sharing information and promoting responsibility and research for sustaining the Nation's water and related land resources. The Roundtable is not a decision-making body, but rather an opportunity to engage individuals representing diverse groups, organizations, interests, and backgrounds.

      2. To identify and describe criteria, indicators, and methods that characterize the sustainability of the Nation's water resources; to share information about data availability and quality, data gaps, and how best to acquire desired information; and to share perspectives about trends affecting the Nation's water and related land resources that have policy or other coordination implications.

      3. To produce products that will disseminate the work of the Roundtable (such as white papers, web listings, newsletter articles), as specified in a Work Plan, and accomplished depending on the availability of resources.

      4. To consult regularly with the forestry, rangelands, and minerals Roundtables about common considerations and programs.

      5. To conduct outreach activities to inform others about the findings, recommendations, and activities of the Roundtable and to provide an opportunity for interested groups to participate in the Roundtable.

      6. To report annually the progress of the Roundtable to the ACWI.

  3. Implementation.

    1. Roundtable Participation

      • The Roundtable recognizes the importance of having a broad range of interests represented among its particpates and will seek to achieve and maintain the diversity.

      • The Roundtable will consist of representatives of federal, tribal, and state agencies, as well as diverse national organizations, companies, and individuals committed to sustaining the Nation's water and related resources.

      • Participation in the Roundtable and any of its workgroups and functions is open to all interested parties and is intended to be inclusive of a wide range of interests.

    2. Roundtable Work Groups

      • The Roundtable will accomplish most of its work through work groups that seek to assess existing information, define concepts in water-resources sustainability, research topics in water-resources sustainability, develop reports, and conduct outreach to key constituencies.

      • Work groups are established according to the interests of individuals who wish to undertake specific actions or activities; formation of work groups occurs either during regularly scheduled Roundtable meetings or by approval of the Steering Committee between meetings.

      • Roundtable participants may want to be part of specific work groups that develop as part of the Roundtable process. Participation in work groups would require ongoing, consistent involvement and representation.

      • Participation in a Roundtable work group is voluntary and provides opportunities for participants to focus on high priority tasks important to the Roundtable, individual participants, or participating organizations.

    3. Guiding principles

      The Roundtable is a self-directed body that strives to conform to principles of operation rather than rigid rules of governance. However, in the course of conducting its activities, decisions will be governed by the following guiding principles:

      1. Consensus: The Roundtable actions in general will be governed by consensus decision-making, indicating the general acceptance and/or support of participants.

      2. Diversity: Fundamental to the Roundtable is the participation of individuals representing diverse interests and organizations. Hence, the Roundtable actions should reflect diverse participation to the extent feasible and consistent with the overall Roundtable composition.

      3. Consistency: Actions, findings, and recommendations by the Roundtable should strive to build a web of consistency in thought and action.

      4. Scientific and Technical Accuracy: The Roundtable will strive to incorporate the most current and scientifically accurate information and data on water-resource availability, use, and sustainability in its reports and other products.

      5. Feasibility: Sustainable water resource plans require scientifically sound theory as well as realistic expectations for implementation. Hence, the Roundtable will focus on data-collection methods, scientific approaches, or actions that are considered feasible.

    4. Role of Co-chairs and Steering Committee

      The Steering Committee provides principal leadership for the Roundtable, insuring that the activities and accomplishments of the Roundtable progress adequately and conform to the Roundtable objectives, principles, and scope. The Co-chairs act as agents of the Steering Committee but in this regard must also provide additional leadership. The steering Committee and Co-chairs do not set the agenda of the Roundtable, but rather facilitate a process for the Roundtable to establish its own agenda and then facilitate and monitor the accomplishment of that agenda. Some of the overall roles and responsibilities include:

      • Take an active role in leadership of the Roundtable, including personal initiative and encouraging involvement from the organizations that the individual represents.

      • Act as advocate and spokesperson for the Roundtable promoting its agenda, accomplishments, and findings.

      • Seek to broaden the participation in the Roundtable by active recruitment among those in government, business, environmental, public interest, academic, professional association, and other organizations.

      • Develop and manage a budget, including solicitation of funding, to provide resources for the Roundtable operations. Identify services in kind that organizations may be able to contribute to Roundtable operations.

      • Identify and work with organizations that can be local conveners of Roundtable meetings, in various parts of the nation.

      • Develop an ongoing work program for the Roundtable, with support of the general roundtable participants and the supporting organizations. Monitor the progress of this program.

      • Charter work groups of the Roundtable in response to Roundtable initiatives.

      • Work to develop relationships with ongoing programs in other organizations that relate to sustainable water resources. Take an active role in creating positive and complementary actions that minimize duplication among programs.

      • Participate in administrative decisions of the Steering Committee.

      Co-Chairs of the Roundtable are normally drawn from the Steering Committee. Ideally, there should be chairs from the public and private sectors. They serve for one year, and this term may be renewed

  4. Participation, Duties, and Guidelines:

    Roundtable participants are expected to contribute to the workings of the Roundtable by contributing in at least one of many different roles:

    1. Attend meetings where participants will have the opportunity to share information, ideas, and views with other Roundtable participants and to assist in documenting the discussions.

    2. Participate in conference calls to plan or discuss Roundtable and/or work group activities.

    3. Share information internally with the participating organization and externally with appropriate constituency groups.

    4. Carry out activities and report results, prepare presentations, and otherwise disseminate information.

    5. Help prepare, edit, or review written reports by the Roundtable and workgroups.

    6. Contribute resources in staff, money, or materials in support of the Roundtable.

    7. Actively recruit new members and supporters for the Roundtable.

    8. Participants may serve on the Steering Committee or as a Co-chair.

    Participants of the Roundtable will receive no pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of their service on the Roundtable


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