Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It
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Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  40 reviews
In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas casinos use billions of gallons of water for fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and indoor canals. Meanwhile, the town of Orme, Tennessee, must truck in water from Alabama because it has literally run out.Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America’s water crisis in a book that is both frightening and wicked...more
Hardcover, 414 pages
Published May 11th 2009 by Island Press
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Derek Emerson
There are no shortage of crisis situations facing our world, yet nothing seems so elemental as water. It is such an integral part of our daily existence that it can be hard to understand how deep our dependence on water really is. That we need to drink water is understandable, but that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef will make you look at that quarter pounder a bit differently.

Of course, concern about water is as ancient as life itself. In the United States water dispu...more
Christina Dudley
What an amazing book! I learned so much from this read about such a wide range of water-related topics: where Americans in different regions get their water; the connection (cycle, really) between energy and water; why dams and diversions and endless well-drilling have finally caught up to us; the catch-22 of bottled water versus what's still in our city drinking water; conservation tips and larger-scale hope on the horizon for making the best of the water we have.

Who knew that our beloved inter...more
AJ
3.5 stars

This is a very comprehensive book about water issues, and it's very well researched. Glennon first outlines the evidence that water scarcity is indeed a problem, and lists the reasons why. Then he outlines some possible solutions - both realistic (low flow toilets) and absurd (cloud seeding).

Ultimately Glennon advocates for a market solution to the water crisis, while being wary of privatization and deregulation. While I do agree with him in that, as a country, we need to pay attention...more
Sarah
This is one of those books that makes you feel depressed, overwhelmed, angry, disgusted, etc., but hopefully by the end, optimistic. It's in the same category for me as Omnivore's Dilemma and Half the Sky: explore a giant problem, then offer solutions that are possible but definitely not easy. I want to cite so many facts and statistics from the book, but that could go on for pages and pages. But here's the bottom line: If we don't have enough water, nothing else matters. Not buying local produc...more
Dan Sharber
this was actually a really good book. a lot of great info on water rights and how they are managed or mismanaged in various places. also a lot about what can be done to conserve water. some conclusions i did not agree with but this was not simply a list of individual changes to conserve water. the author also took on energy creation as well as gold courses and agriculture which all over use water. well written and engaging overview of water issues.
Chris
I give it four glasses (of water) up. An entertaining, thought-provooking, non-technical look at how we waste water, and why moving to the Southwest might not be such a great idea.
Laura
Good information but terrible solutions.
Weavre
Aug 10, 2009 Weavre rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Weavre by: Osterhout Display Shelf
While Glennon's writing style isn't quite as vivid as Workman's (Heart of Dryness, the topic itself remains compelling. For anyone who thinks, "I don't need to worry about that where I live," I'd encourage a bit more reading on the current realities, which have changed considerably even in very recent years.

Even so, Glennon may not be the place to start, as the academic, figure-laden writing style may not grip some readers in the same way as other books on the subject. To Glennon's credit, he i...more
Camille Tesch
I read about half of this one, but got sucked into other things, so it went back to the library. I'd like to come back to it sometime. I've been interested in water politics and policy ever since it really dawned on me that I grew up in the desert, but water was cheap and everyone had beautiful lush green lawns through the summer while the mountains turn brown.

Reading this made me glad to live where I do. I also thought a lot about Jared Dimond's book 'Collapse', and wondered if many communitie...more
Luia
Nutshell: not exactly a page-turner, but full of interesting and important information on water waste and the little things we can do to eventually make a big difference.
--
The author occasionally gets a little long winded and the logical flow of the book is a little choppy, but I'm ultimately very glad to have read the book. Whether or not you agree with Glennon's favored solution, the book is an honest and ugly picture of the water situation in America. America has always professed to be a land...more
Lynne
I think that everyone should read this book. I knew that water problems are going to become incredibly serious in coming years. I knew that ethanol production here in the midwest where we have abundant water has drawn down the water table in some locations and left private wells dry. I also knew how critical water supplies are in the southwest. This book is well written, very readable, and almost shockingly informative. People are rather blase about how they use water in the U.S. and they don't...more
Yune
Readable and informative. I'd heard about how Southern California got most of its water from Northern California, but I hadn't really thought through the bickering that could occur between upstream and downstream states where major rivers were concerned, or even how ridiculous it is to have a major metropolis in the middle of the desert, and insist on immaculate lawns. The fact that there are water rights lawyers!

Makes you appreciate water and how stupidly cheap and easy to get it is for many Am...more
Mike
Having lived in Arizona for sixteen years and being familiar with the importance of water conservation, I should like this book. I want to like this book. But in spite of all my desire I disliked reading it. It reads like an MTV produced book jumping from trivia to trivia without forming a cohesive argument in any chapter - although the author attempts to do so. And I recognize at least one factual error in one of his accounts. Something should be said about his insistence on progressive liberal...more
John
A good update on our current water situation and is more easily readable than "Cadillac Dessert". Certainly written for the masses.

Glennon lays out many different ways we can solve our water problems, which will only continue to get worse with time, ranging from brilliant to crazy, and feasible to outlandish and expensive. Through this shotgun approach, states, cities and individuals can find solutions they can implement to help solve our water crisis.
Jessica
I didn't really learn anything new from this book. In fact, I thought it was too similar to the last book of his I read, "Water Follies." His writing style sucks. Plus, there are a few places that he contradicts himself. Boy would I love to be his editor! But it was still interesting, and he makes a compelling argument for composting toilets. I just feel that only about a third of the book gave me anything new.
John
Another excellent book on the environment and the way humans are tearing through it with no abandon. It is amazing how many ways we use water, many completely "hidden" and unnoticed. What is clear is that demand far outpaces supply and, evidently, as happens so often these days, very few are willing to confront the issue until it is so grave that some kind of adjustment MUST be made.
Corina
While this book was not as good as Glennon's Water Folies, it still contains lots of important information. The author uses anecdotal stories of local water problems to illustrate the larger water issues facing America, and presumably the entire world. I'm no expert in this area, but the author offers some guidelines for how to approach these issues in the future that seem to make sense.
Claire
I am only a quarter into this book but cannot wait to talk about it. My housemates are no doubt tired already of water water water. I am really liking how Mr. Glennon is laying out the crisis that is all around us.
This is important info, I am so relieved that there are publishers like Island Press printing and distributing these topical and important titles.
More when I finish :)
Matt Lundy
In all fairness, I didn't read every page. The book had some interesting anecdotes from the past 15 years that don't show up in Marc Reisner's must read Cadillac Desert, but a lot of it was just laundry lists of ways that we currently waste water, and how to save more. Definetly check out Cadillac Desert first, and read every page!
Catherine
I didn't finish this book because it got really depressing and overwhelming. Seemed a little like fear mongering to me. Maybe there were tips at the end for what individuals can do? If so, they should have been alluded to earlier, because really it just seemed like we are all doomed.
Shirley Holm
This is a very well written and informative book. I am embarrassed that I knew so little about the extent and dangers of the water crisis in America. Really has changed my views and behaviors. This book was a great way to reintroduce nonfiction into my literary life. Highly recommend it!
Glenn
A good read simply for the information inside of it. This book acts as a clearinghouse for important water law/conservation stories over the last 50 years, specifically the last decade. Only the last 40 pages or so are explicitly infused with the author's own political ideas.
Patty
Made me think. I'm not a big fan of "commodifying" a resource like water, but the author makes a good case for regulated market strategies. Surpisingly funny at times. He is careful and correct in saying that *everyone* has a right to the water they *need*.
Matthew
This was a great read. The book does a great job of showing how Americans only care about themselves and not the common good. After reading this book, I am more motivated to conserve water. I always thought our supply was limitless, but I was wrong.
Sue
I thought it was good but a little longer than necessary. The stories are interesting but there are a few too many. I did learn a lot about CA water in particular but I am not sure I could not have learned just as much in far fewer pages.
Jason
Great examples and "reality checks" about our water supply/usage/policies. Not quite the historical drama of "Cadillac Desert" (still my favorite book, period, of any genre) but it hits the target. Good stuff.
Mitchell
Interesting. Some new stuff on the water situation primarily in the US. But mostly anecdotal recap and not especially well written. A compelling subject but a relatively non-compelling book.
Victoria.schles
A challenging solution to America's water problems. I don't know that I agree with his proposed solutions, but it forced me to think about the issue in a new way.
Phil
Wow. America is screwed. Too many people and not enough potable water. Gray water reclamation and gutter fed cisterns should be added to each existing home.
Edalin
Really fantastic look at groundwater usage in the US - the problems that overuse has created and the ways people are trying to solve those problems.
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