Obama administration looks to private sector for drought help

The Obama administration is trying to enable the private sector to come up with solutions to problems facing the country’s water needs.

The Interior Department launched an effort Tuesday that aims to bring in private-sector financing and investment to help water conservation and infrastructure efforts, with a focus on areas in the western United States facing droughts.

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The initiative, dubbed the Natural Resource Investment Center, is the latest push from the White House to put federal efforts behind both short- and long-term solutions to the West’s water problems, including the worst drought in centuries.

A component of the program will also focus on species and habitat protection.

“Given increased development pressures, climate impacts and constrained budgets, Interior is pursuing innovative approaches with private sector organizations to help accomplish our balanced land management and conservation mission,” Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellNational parks pay the price for Trump's Independence Day spectacle Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone MORE said in a statement.

“The Natural Resource Investment Center will facilitate this effort by building on current activity to incent private investments in the infrastructure and conservation of water, species, habitat, and other natural resources.”

The two main goals of the program are to use water efficiency and reuse technology to improve conservation and to invest in research and development for technology that brings in new water supplies, such as desalination.