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  Studying Up on the WCFSP:
A Background Brief on USBR
Water Conservation Efforts

Reclamation's Water Conservation Field Services Program -- FSP for short -- concluded its first year with an impressive record of water saved and initiatives launched. As you hear more about FSP results in the years to come, some background on the effort will help you put the news into perspective.

AGENTS IN THE FIELD

Reclamation has adopted a "tried and true" approach to offering local, proactive, personalized service to water users -- the field agent system. Operating out of area offices (with coordination at the regional level) FSP personnel offer technical, financial and educational assistance toward achieving the water management goals set forth by the water users themselves.

We're talking a lot of facilitation here; The Lower Colorado Region supplies water to over 100 water districts, 7.5 million acre feet in 1992. Six percent of that quantity was for ecological management, ten percent for municipal and industrial uses, and 84% for agriculture. Improvements in efficiency will provide enough water to share between the diversity of needs.

PROGRAMS CUSTOM FIT

As Commissioner Eluid Martinez notes, the FSP frames water conservation in the larger context of water management and all its local variables: "Water conservation continues to be one of our highest priorities. In addressing water efficient best management practices, one size does not fit all."

The key operational phrase to keep in mind -- customer service and assistance at the local level. FSP personnel focus their efforts on four categories of local need:

  • planning assistance
  • demonstration of innovative technologies
  • implementation of effective practices
  • education, training, and sharing of technology

HISTORICAL SUCCESS

Do you see the pattern in these categories, the consistent theme of facilitative leadership? That's the classic field agent approach pioneered decades ago during the dust bowl era by the old Soil Conservation Service and university extension programs. Very effective, as American history testifies. The Bureau of Reclamation is finding the model quite appropriate to current times.