Future of Water Subcabinet Uncertain

The future of the “Water Subcabinet” created by President Trump is murky at best with the likely change in administration. A Biden Administration may disband the group, or change its mission or membership dramatically given the differing priorities.

While some experts have stated that the group will be dispersed due to its very recent creation, others find that it may continue with a much different direction. Stakeholders in the western United States have asked that the group focus on water scarcity issues in that part of the country, along with other issues. Others have asked that the group focus on streamlining investment in water infrastructure, as well as regulations.

To date, the group has only met once, and held discussions with stakeholders on accelerating development of new regulations. The regulations highlighted were the new “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” and the proposed revisions to the National Environmental Policy Act. Both of those regulatory changes would likely be undone under a Biden Administration.

The Subcabinet was created on October 13, when President Trump issued an executive order titled, “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure.” The group is currently lead by the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency and includes representatives from:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of the Army
  • White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Office of Management and Budget
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy

The Water Subcabinet is currently responsible for developing a national water strategy to enhance water storage, water supply, and drought resiliency. The group also works to improve water quality, source water protection, nutrient management, and restoration activities.

The Trump Administration created the group in order to get rid of “overlapping responsibilities in federal water bureaucracy and streamline the process.” The group aims to reduce “unnecessary duplication” in government and consolidate “existing water-related task forces, working groups, and other formal cross-agency initiatives.”