Water issues again top agenda

Spring is a time for rebirth. It also serves as a good time to remember our earthly duties to protect and sustain our water resources, as it may very well be our most precious.

Let us not forget that from water springs forth new life and the regeneration of old life. This month, on March 22, the world will celebrate World Water Day, which you can read more about by visiting www.worldwaterday.org. As a founder and co-chair of the House Water Caucus I look forward to joining my fellow co-chairs in recognizing this day.

Water-related issues have been of interest for more than 30 years. In 1978, I wrote an article that predicted that one of the two major challenges for our country in the next century would be providing enough fresh water for our booming population. Along with my fellow colleagues, I founded the House Water Caucus with this notion in mind.

One of our goals was to create an educational venue and forum where information could be shared about fostering a sustainable and dependable clean water supply for our nation's future.

For this upcoming World Water Day, I am renewing my pledge to continue fighting to make water issues one of the highest priorities in Congress. Since 2001, I have been calling for the creation of a federal commission to examine and provide workable solutions to our nation's water issues in order to prevent future crises like the ones we are facing in the southeastern and southwestern parts of the country right now. I remain hopeful that my colleagues will join me in my efforts to get this important bill signed into law in 2009.

In the coming weeks, the caucus will be showcasing two very important briefing and educational events on Capitol Hill. The first event will be held Tuesday and will feature a documentary screening of "The Power of Water," a short film that highlights the complexity of water resources in our daily lives.

The second event will be held March 31 in recognition of World Water Day and will feature a high-level panel of water experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Strategy Institute, Population Services, Proctor & Gamble and Friends of the Earth (the world's leading environmental and water peacemaking organization), all of whom will discuss current efforts to make water sustainability throughout the world a realistic goal in the 21st century.

I am not alone in these efforts. During the week of March 16 to 22, our planet's Fifth World Water Forum will be held in Istanbul, Turkey. Topics of discussion will include meeting the growing demands of increased populations in the urban centers and coastal communities, new technologies to clean and deliver water and sanitation issues in the developing world. There will also be a Children's World Water Forum held concurrently in Istanbul to involve our children in the dialogue on these important topics.

In 1973, our nation's last water commission wrote: "Water is one of several resources without which a nation cannot satisfy the fundamental wants of its people or achieve the important national goals it sets for itself. Without water life cannot be sustained." I cannot agree more.

In the coming months, I will continue to keep you updated on current efforts to forge new innovations in water conservation and what I am doing to spearhead these efforts.

Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth, has served in the House of Representatives since 1992.