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The New York Review of Books
"a lively account of hydrology."
Posted December 12, 2012
In Water Follies, by Robert Glennon, groundwater has its moment in the spotlight. Through several real life case studies and historical stories Glennon gives us an overview of what effect humans have had on groundwater around the world. The overarching theme of his narrative is apparent in the title of the book. Follies by humans have brought the state of groundwater in most populous areas to a breaking point. Each case study presented in the book results in a profound impact on some other, more noticeable, facet of life. In some cases, the more recent ones, the impact is only speculated by environmentalists, but without knowledge and thought into the consequences there could be catastrophic effects in many places.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2010
Groundwater rights have been a controversial issue for many years. Since water pumping began, the rights of the water have been disputed. This disputation has become increasingly important as people begin to realize just how valuable it is. The balance between human and natural need has been shaken, because of uneven distribution and corporate exploitation of communal resources. Robert Glennon does a great job of explaining these relationships in his book, Water Follies. Glennon takes the readers on a trip around America, showing various misuses of our most precious resource. He satirizes the American way of exploitation at the cost of society, and points out ways that our country should change.
Glennon has many arguments about the mistreatment of our countries' water resources. One argument is that of water companies pumping enormous amounts of water is having a perverse effect on the environment. To understand this, we must understand that all groundwater is tied together. When the groundwater level is high, it adds water to streams, but when groundwater is low, the streams lose water. This water adds to the groundwater. When a water company begins pumping water out of the ground, it lowers the water table, which causes rivers and streams to lose their water. When this happens, the bodies of water change. These different conditions make it difficult for animals to survive because they depend on the water environment for their home. If the changes are too drastic, the animal population threatened will suffer and may be forced to relocate.
Glennon also rips into the fact that water companies take groundwater, which is basically a public resource, and pumps huge quantities of it. This causes many problems for the population. The same water that city utilities sell for a fraction of a penny per gallon is sold by private water companies for $4.50-$7.50 per gallon. Another problem arises when the huge amount of pumping causes the water table to drop, eventually below the current well depths. This means that private homeowners, who use an incredibly small amount of water compared to the water companies, have to foot the bill to drill a deeper well. Another problem that comes along with the dropping water table is the subsidence of the ground. Without the water to support it, the ground collapses upon itself, causing cracking of buildings, roads, and infrastructure. The government does not have a good way of regulating water use, which makes it very easy for companies to take much more than their fair share and get away with it.
The author is an advocate of water reform in America. He brings up a lot of very good points and issues that need to be addressed. Glennon does a good job of explaining that everything is interconnected, a concept that a lot of people do not understand. This entire book summarizes many of the problems that we have with water. He places a lot of emphasis on things needing to change, but does it in a way that makes it seem obvious. Glennon also does a good job of adding a hopeful spin to his message, which can come across as a bit ominous. He leaves the reader with some steps that can be taken to help fix this problem that we have. This book was a solid, interesting, down to earth read that everyone should take a good look at.
Posted December 13, 2009
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