The American Water Works Association (AWWA) supports reservoir management programs that protect existing water supply storage capacity in reservoirs to ensure reliable and sustainable water supplies for current and future generations. AWWA takes the position that the volume of storage provided for water supply purposes and its resulting yield must not be subject to involuntary reclassification, reallocation or degradation in quality as a result of other uses.
Affected water utilities should be consulted before modifying the legal definitions, classifications or designated use of any reservoir in a manner that would impact water quality or availability. All parties with an interest in the water resources should be engaged in transparently developing fair and equitable solutions that meet all reasonable water supply needs prior to implementation. Requests to voluntarily allow for reclassification or reallocation of reservoir storage must consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of alternative sources or programs that may be implemented to compensate for the loss of water supply yield. Licenses, permits and/or contract language should be used to clarify functional definitions and priorities of use at multi‐purpose reservoirs that serve a variety of functions (e.g. water supply, flood control, power generation, recreation, water quality maintenance or enhancement, aquatic habitat protection, etc.). Such licenses, permits and/or contract language should also specify conditions under which those terms and priorities may change; in particular, consideration should be given to integrating best available climate science.
AWWA encourages federal, state, regional, provincial and local agencies, as well as private entities and those with indigenous/tribal rights, to protect the use of water supply reservoirs for water supply purposes, with appropriate flexibility to adaptively and collaboratively respond to unforeseen conditions that may put water supply or public health at risk.
Practices specified in this policy statement are consistent with all other pertinent AWWA policy statements.
Adopted by the Board of Directors June 17, 1990, and revised June 15, 1997, and Jan. 20, 2002, and Jan. 21, 2007, reaffirmed June 20, 2011, and revised Jan. 24, 2015 and June 11, 2020.