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Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters

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Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters Cover

ISBN13: 9781559634007
ISBN10: 1559634006
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"...a book as rich in detail as it is devastating in its argument." -SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

"Water Follies deserves a place alongside the late Marc Reisner's classic Cadillac Desert." -ENVIRONMENT

"a lively account of hydrology" -NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

"if you want to scare yourself silly, read Water Follies, by Robert Jerome Glennon. In it you'll learn how America is irrigating itself to death-just like the Sumerians-while sucking its groundwater aquifers dry." -TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL

"Even if you are not working with water issues, you should read this book for a wider awareness of the depth and importance of groundwater impacts, right down to the bottle of water you are probably drinking right now." -CONSERVATION IN PRACTICE

"To law professor Robert Glennon, the names Perrier and Poland pack a fearful punch, for they and the other huge producers of bottled water are feeding a craze that puts the environment on the brink of disaster." -PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

The Santa Cruz River that once flowed through Tucson, Arizona is today a sad mirage of a river. Except for brief periods following heavy rainfall, it is bone dry. The cottonwood and willow trees that once lined its banks have died, and the profusion of birds and wildlife recorded by early settlers are nowhere to be seen. The river is dead. What happened? Where did the water go. As Robert Glennon explains in Water Follies, what killed the Santa Cruz River — and could devastate other surface waters across the United States — was groundwater pumping. From 1940 to 2000, the volume of water drawn annually from underground aquifers in Tucson jumped more than six-fold, from 50,000 to 330,000 acre-feet per year. And Tucson is hardly an exception — similar increases in groundwater pumping have occurred across the country and around the world. In a striking collection of stories that bring to life the human and natural consequences of our growing national thirst, Robert Glennon provides an occasionally wry and always fascinating account of groundwater pumping and the environmental problems it causes. Robert Glennon sketches the culture of water use in the United States, explaining how and why we are growing increasingly reliant on groundwater. He uses the examples of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro rivers in Arizona to illustrate the science of hydrology and the legal aspects of water use and conflicts. Following that, he offers a dozen stories — ranging from Down East Maine to San Antonio's River Walk to Atlanta's burgeoning suburbs — that clearly illustrate the array of problems caused by groundwater pumping. Each episode poses a conflict of values that reveals the complexity of how and why we use water. These poignant and sometimes perverse tales tell of human foibles including greed, stubbornness, and, especially, the unlimited human capacity to ignore reality. As Robert Glennon explores the folly of our actions and the laws governing them, he suggests common-sense legal and policy reforms that could help avert potentially catastrophic future effects. Water Follies, the first book to focus on the impact of groundwater pumping on the environment, brings this widespread but underappreciated problem to the attention of citizens and communities across America.

Synopsis:

..."a book as rich in detail as it is devastating in its argument." -SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN "Water Follies deserves a place alongside the late Marc Reisner's classic Cadillac Desert." -ENVIRONMENT "a lively account of hydrology" -NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS "if you want to scare yourself silly, read Water Follies, by Robert Jerome Glennon. In it you'll learn how America is irrigating itself to death-just like the Sumerians-while sucking its groundwater aquifers dry."-TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL

Synopsis:

"Water Follies is an occasionally wry and always fascinating account of ground-water pumping and the environmental problems it causes. Robert Glennon sets forth a striking collection of stories--ranging from Down Hast Maine to San Antonio's River Walk to Atlanta's burgeoning suburbs--that bring to life the human and natural consequences of our growing national thirst. Glennon suggests common-sense legal and policy reforms that would address the most egregious situations and help minimize potentially catastrophic future effects.

About the Author

Robert Jerome Glennon is Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

Table of Contents

Introduction 

Chapter 1. The Worth of Water in the United States

Chapter 2. Human Reliance on Groundwater

Chapter 3. How Does a River Go Dry? The Santa Cruz in Tucson

Chapter 4. A River at Risk; The Upper San Pedro River in Arizona

Chapter 5. Tampa Bay's Avarice; Cypress Groves, Wetlands, Springs, and Lakes in Florida

Chapter 6. The Tourist's Mirage; San Antonio's River Walk, the Edwards Aquifer,and Endangered Species

Chapter 7. Suburban Development and Watershed Initiatives; Massachusetts' Ipswich River Basin

Chapter 8. A Game of Inches for Endangered Chinook Salmon; California's Cosumnes River, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Sacramento Sprawl

Chapter 9. Wild Blueberries and Atlantic Salmon; Down East Maine

Chapter 10. Size Does Count, at Least for French Fries; Minnesota's Straight River

Chapter 11. The Black Mesa Coal Slurry Pipeline; The Hopi Reservation in Arizona

Chapter 12. Is Gold or Water More Precious? Mining in Nevada

Chapter 13. All's Fair in Love and Water

Chapter 14. The Future of Water; Tourism and Grand Canyon National Park

Chapter 15. The Tragedy of Law and the Commons

 

Appendix

Glossary

List of Acronyms

Bibliography

Acknowledgments

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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geography_student, December 5, 2013 (view all comments by geography_student)
Water Follies, by Robert Glennon, discusses groundwater pumping and the fate of America’s fresh waters. The book gives examples of different regions in the United States and water problems they have had and usually are continuing to experience. These problems range from disputes over water rights between multiple parties regarding purchasing properties to the frightening facts representing how much water is taken by Americans from the environment over a certain amount of time. The case studies told by Glennon are not only stories of different corporations, but stories of specific, individual Americans as well.

Glennon opens his storybook discussing the immensely valuable worth of water in the United States of America. Water is essential to economies - we often forget how fortunate we are as Americans to be able to receive water by simply turning on a tap. Most humans are known to take their water for granted, and those who have relatively easy access to water are much better off than those who have great difficulties obtaining their water. The United States is a developed nation with relatively easy access to water, and that puts our country at a significant advantage socially, economically, and politically over developing nations. However, Glennon articulates that just because we do have easily accessible water in our country, it does not mean that we should do whatever we want with our water. Water seems to be such an abundant resource, but there is a frightening reality that if our water consumption habits do not change, we will run out of accessible water.

One example of human misuse of water in the United States is how many Americans have settled in the southwest region of the country. Although the weather of the American Southwest can be hard to beat, the extremely large number of people living in this area is overwhelming compared to the amount of water in the region. Glennon gives the histories of Arizona and California rivers, explaining the impact of such large populations demanding from these rivers. The significance of human impacts on the rivers does not always seem to be very apparent at first, but the destruction to these ecosystems grows rapidly and at an exponential rate.

Another irresponsible action by Americans with regard to water use is their determination to throw out any environmental considerations when devising a business plan. The United States has been a capitalist society for its entire existence, and entrepreneurs seeking to maximize profits often exclude the environment when considering what really matters to them. Around different environmental landforms in America, commercialism and consumerism has turned aspects of nature into artificial backdrops. Disruption of the flow of the San Antonio River around a shopping area has created much change in the way the species of the river interact, and controlling the flow of the river has proved to be much more difficult than what business owners believed it to be. Similar conditions exist in Florida as wetlands are being deployed of water in order to make room for new housing developments. It is important to make enough money to live a comfortable life, but without consideration to the environment, specifically water resources, nobody will be able to live comfortably in the future.

Glennon allocates a considerable amount of his book to discussion of the impact of suburban development in the United States on water use and its boundaries. He takes an in-depth look at the Massachusetts Ipswich River Basin, looking at what caused the river to dry up three times in six years in the mid to late 1990s. Glennon discusses the impact of suburban development, specifically rooftops, roads, and parking lots, on groundwater being recharged in the aquifer. This inhibition is related to the decrease permeability and porosity of the the earth as a result of human construction. Glennon then transitions to other topics such as salmon, potato farms, and coal and gold miners.

A common theme noticed in all of Glennon’s case studies, which he stresses in some of his final words in Water Follies, is the Tragedy of the Commons. An economics theory published in 1968 by American Garrett Hardin, the tragedy states that individuals deplete shared resources as each individual pursues their own self-interests. This is seen constantly in Glennon’s publication as anything from corporations to individuals are looking to do what is best for themselves, and not necessarily what is best for the environment.

Water Follies was a far more interesting read than I expected. Throughout the book, Glennon is constantly feeding the reader more information, but the way he does it is more engaging than overwhelming. Glennon takes the reader on a trip around the United States, from the American Southwest to the East Coast with stops in the Midwest, and he acts as your tour guide on the way. The reader learns of legal battles between large corporations and municipal governments, relationships between families and the environment, and the political aspect of environmental regulations. Glennon’s approach is much more of a story than a textbook, as case studies illustrate the points that textbooks can monotonously make. Glennon connects his tales to the principles of Earth systems science, describing the impact of humans on the water cycle, ecosystems and communities, watershed districts, politics and the environment, fluvial landforms, and obviously groundwater.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781559634007
Subtitle:
Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters
Author:
Glennon, Robert
Author:
Glennon, Robert Jerome
Publisher:
Island Press
Subject:
Natural Resources
Subject:
Public Policy
Subject:
Water-supply
Subject:
Water consumption.
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Subject:
Environmental - Water Supply
Subject:
Water-supply -- United States.
Subject:
Water use -- United States.
Subject:
Environmental Engineering-Water Supply
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Edition Number:
1
Edition Description:
1
Publication Date:
20040114
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
328
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Engineering » Environmental Engineering » Water Supply
History and Social Science » Geography » Water and Hydrology
Metaphysics » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General

Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America's Fresh Waters New Trade Paper
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Product details 328 pages Island Press - English 9781559634007 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , ..."a book as rich in detail as it is devastating in its argument." -SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN "Water Follies deserves a place alongside the late Marc Reisner's classic Cadillac Desert." -ENVIRONMENT "a lively account of hydrology" -NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS "if you want to scare yourself silly, read Water Follies, by Robert Jerome Glennon. In it you'll learn how America is irrigating itself to death-just like the Sumerians-while sucking its groundwater aquifers dry."-TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL
"Synopsis" by , "Water Follies is an occasionally wry and always fascinating account of ground-water pumping and the environmental problems it causes. Robert Glennon sets forth a striking collection of stories--ranging from Down Hast Maine to San Antonio's River Walk to Atlanta's burgeoning suburbs--that bring to life the human and natural consequences of our growing national thirst. Glennon suggests common-sense legal and policy reforms that would address the most egregious situations and help minimize potentially catastrophic future effects.
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