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This paper presents a discussion on the general subject of water. The answer to the question, "Water Usage-Who Cares?" should be easy--everyone. Water is needed for human consumption, for sanitary purposes, for plants, fish and animals, for commerce and industry, and a myriad of other uses. The interest groups are many and varied. A more appropriate question, however, would be "Water-Who Gets It?" This question is not so easy, since it involves a human equation which too many times is based on emotions rather than facts. Also, we can expect a broad spectrum of values that is attached to various water uses.
With this background, I will address the subject through the eyes of the Corps of Engineers. I opted for this approach since I believe it will outline what has been happening in the water resources field in the Missouri River region as well as mirroring the rest of the nation. I will also address the subject in terms of the past, present, and future, since it is the linkage of the past and present that provides us with insights to the future. Lest anyone get the idea that all water development is the private domain of the Corps, let me dispel that notion. Water developments in this region, as well as the nation, reflect a combination of federal programs with those of states, local communities, and the private sector. The development of water resources by these combined efforts over the last three decades has been phenomenal. Addressing the subject through the eyes of the Corps is simply to use a large sample that reflects all the problems inherent in developing, regulating, and managing water resources.