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Though it offers a litany of damning facts about America's state-of-emergency water crisis, this is pretty dry reading. Midkiff (The Meat You Eat) earnestly marshals plenty of cautionary information: once-flush aquifers are being rapidly depleted, most precipitously the Ogallala, which stretches from Nebraska to the Texas panhandle, while the Colorado (in Texas) and Rio Grande rivers vanish into dry riverbeds before they reach the Gulf of Mexico. Water from the tap in Atlanta has had to be boiled to make it potable, while farmers' wells in New Mexico are tapped out. Midkiff frets that the privatization of municipal water services will raise household bills for private profit, and faults outdated, lobby-driven farm subsidies for encouraging "water-guzzling" rice crops in California's Central Valley, which was once a desert, before the lure of underpriced water transformed it into an agricultural cornucopia. The author, former director of the Sierra Club's clean water campaign, doesn't put stock in desalinization plants or the meltwater of towed glaciers, believing that conservation is the most viable path to sustaining water supplies. His call for immediate collective effort makes good sense, even if expressed with bromides like "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." (Apr.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.