Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Book, Several More Lessons

I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, not the juicy hamburger I was dreaming about last time. After lunch, I went to the library and took out a book on the Great Lakes that I have borrowed twice before. I would have purchased the book but the bookstore did not have it in stock and I was too impatient to wait for it to come by mail.

The book is The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin. Much of what I have learned about water diversion out of the Great Lakes Basin comes from Annin’s research and excellent writing. Annin writes in an easy to read manner but the book is filled with hard facts. One chapter talks about the Aral Sea in Central Asia and how over a mere 25 year span the lake lost 90 percent of its volume and 75 percent of its surface area. A once thriving ecosystem was destroyed; an environmental lesson provided, but perhaps one not yet heeded.

The significant portion of the book is about the movements, both successful and failed, to divert water out of the basin, such as to the arid Southwest, and efforts to prevent them. One chapter details the history of the Chicago River reversal. Two others describe the legal battles waged by Waukesha and Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin to get Lake Michigan water. Fascinating stuff.

The cover of the book has a quote from Michael P. Dombeck. I am not sure who he is but I like what he said. “Water is the lifeblood of the forty million people who live in the Great Lakes Basin. This book should be required reading for anyone whose life depends on Great Lakes water.” I agree.

Annin’s book is due to be published in paperback in May. I may wait for it, or I may buy it in hardcover, or just keep borrowing it from the library. Even if you decide to neither buy nor borrow this book, check out Annin’s website Great Lakes Water Wars where you can listen to a short video. You'll learn a lot in twenty minutes.

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