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

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  229 Ratings  ·  45 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 wick
Hardcover, 414 pages
Published May 11th 2009 by Island Press
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Jul 02, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
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
Rob Best
Sep 29, 2014 Rob Best rated it really liked it
"Unquenchable" is an in-depth look at all the ways we use and waste water in the US. For someone familiar with the water space, it seems to be a refresher, geared more to be an eye-opener for those unfamiliar with the water system in the US and less toward a comprehensive discussion of water politics and solutions to the crisis. While the book has numerous excellent case studies of localized water impacts, it jumps around a lot as well, making it harder to understand what comprehensive reform is ...more
Christina Dudley
Jan 11, 2013 Christina Dudley rated it really liked it
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
Derek Emerson
Aug 23, 2009 Derek Emerson rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-books-read
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
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
Dan Sharber
Jul 19, 2011 Dan Sharber rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 07, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 18, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
Good information but terrible solutions.
Aug 10, 2009 Weavre rated it liked it
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
Joe Frankie
Robert does a great job with the impending water resource crisis we face. His book is easy to read, well-researched and documented. He breaks down the issues and tries to portray the multiple sides of the issues. He makes it plain to see that more of the same is not going to be viable solution. It worth your time and effort to read. You are a stakeholder in the upcoming debates on policy.
Camille Tesch
Jun 20, 2014 Camille Tesch rated it liked it
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
May 13, 2013 Luia rated it liked it
Shelves: educational
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
Jul 05, 2011 Lynne rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2009 Yune rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Oct 29, 2010 Mike rated it did not like it
Shelves: geography
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
Alan Cunningham
Great book, with a good ration of polemic to solution. Author wastes no time in getting down to business.
Apr 23, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
Very informative without being overly political. Not something I would normally read.
Jul 25, 2009 John rated it liked it
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.
Oct 27, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Jun 08, 2011 John rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 13, 2012 Corina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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!
Dec 05, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
Had to read this for a hydrology class this semester, and it was terrifying! I found it to be a fascinating read, but it was extremely depressing and terrifying all at once. It's worth a read so that you become more conscious of how serious our water problem really is, and it'll make you very cautious about conserving water.
Jun 22, 2011 Catherine rated it it was ok
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
Dec 15, 2012 Shirley Holm rated it it was amazing
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!
Sep 19, 2010 Glenn rated it liked it
Shelves: sciences
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.
Sep 29, 2012 Patty rated it liked it
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*.
Aug 07, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it
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.
May 09, 2013 Sue rated it liked it
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.
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