Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its protection of water resources in the United States.

In Erin Brokovich’s new book, Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We The People Can Do About It (2020), she clearly articulates the depth of this issue in America, “We are amid a major water crisis that is beyond anything you can imagine….. We are at a turning point…where we all need to fight before there’s not a drop of water left to drink.” Access to clean water is key to our lives, but we regularly ignore debates regarding it. The problems of Flint Michigan are neither isolated nor far from our own homes. We are at a cross-road to ensuring that water is clean, accessible, and secure for our use and consumption.

In order to advocate for substantial protection of water resources, affirmative teams can point to a wide range of problems in the status quo: pollutants and contaminants present in many community water systems, woefully outdated water infrastructure and a lack of federal spending, increasing water scarcity issues, deficits in rural water quality due to agricultural practices, inadequate security protection for critical water systems, inequities in protection for underserved or economically disadvantaged communities, and poor federal management of rules and regulations aimed at protecting water resources. Plans might include, but not be limited to adopt laws that increase the standards for water quality, fund water infrastructure creation or renewal, increase funding and/or regulation to address disparities in access to water resources, regulate agricultural use of water, fund development of innovative technologies for water filtration, fund and/or regulate to address security of water resources from cyber/terror threats, address environmental justice concerns, and increase enforcement of water resource standards.

Negative approaches to the topic would include both traditional and progressive debate arguments. Disadvantages, such as spending, federalism, politics, and tradeoffs will be the source of offense for traditional debaters. Critical arguments like anthropocentrism, feminism, securitization, or environmental racism will be employed by debaters who prefer a theory-based debate. Case arguments may focus on a lack of federal resources available to fully fund water infrastructure, federal mismanagement as a source of circumvention, whether a national policy would be feasible to address the diverse water needs of the United States, and how underserved communities could still be left behind due to structural racism. Counterplans could claim that states or localities will solve more directly or that a different actor would be more reasonable (i.e. EPA, Army Corp of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Courts, etc).

This topic allows debaters access to a broad literature base for both the affirmative and the negative. Research is easily accessible to all students. This topic engages debaters, judges, and the general public. Coaches will have an opportunity to make novices feel comfortable about the topic because it is relevant to every citizen. At the same time, coaches can focus on more critical arguments for advanced debaters. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the need for a reset on environmental issues, particularly water resources, this topic and the robust exchange of ideas it will ignite will be a critical part of beginning that reset..



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