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The Great Lakes Water Wars

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The Great Lakes are the largest collection of fresh surface water on earth, and more than 40 million Americans and Canadians live in their basin. How that water is used by, or diverted from, those people is the story of The Great Lakes Water Wars. These wars are coming. A controversial compact to manage the waters of the Great Lakes through this century will be considered ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 16th 2006 by Island Press
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Water will replace oil as the defining natural resource of the next hundred years, writes Peter Annin in this thoroughly updated second edition. This book explores water diversion, which means artificially transporting water from its natural basin to another one. Six dozen maps and photos illustrate the book.

A two-page map of the Great Lakes Basin, the book’s frontispiece, reveals that the watershed extends a hundred miles from the shoreline in some places while the narrowest buffer of a few mi
Gilda Felt
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book is highly readable, though it doesn’t stint on detail. Each chapter goes into a different “war,” a different threat to the Great Lakes water basin. And as someone originally from a dry state (Arizona,) and now living within the basin (Michigan,) I was especially concerned about the future of the lakes. With bottled water companies already taking water, and casting greedy eyes on more, that future seemed uncertain. The demise of the Aral Sea is also covered in the book, giving a disturbi ...more
Ben Hylen
Non- Fiction Book

In this very informative book you will learn all about how that Great Lakes hangs in the balance of water use and diversions. In The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin you will learn all about the history surrounding the laws that protect The Great Lakes. The first major event that you learn about is the Aral Sea disaster which is where you’ll learn all about what happened to the Aral Sea. The second major event explained in this book is the Chicago Diversion which involves t
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, although quite polluted, and often smelly & with dead fish on the shore, & although many classmates were afraid to go into the water, I always loved the lake. It has a kind of intoxicating attraction for me, full of wonder and mystery. I have some of my best childhood memories on the shores of Lake Erie.

This book is great because it set the record straight. I had heard by rumor that the Great Lakes had dropped feet in lake level, on their way to
Giff Zimmerman
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A surprisingly interesting and even entertaining book about a topic - the history of water use in the Great Lakes Basin, and the associated public policy issues - that at first seems obscure and tedious. The author's descriptions of the various major events and controversies are well-researched and reasonably fast-paced. He presents both sides well, although he clearly favors the establishment of strong governmental controls over water use. He is ultimately convincing. The book is now 8 years ol ...more
Beth A
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Terrific book about how we MUST save the fresh water that is in the Great Lakes. Sorry all you folks who live in dry climates, but we have to protect the water in the Great Lakes. A great read, as well as an examination of policy issues affecting our water supply.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
although it focuses on the great lakes watershed, the arguments and legal protections are instructive for all water resources anywhere. Even before oil should come the question of how do we provide clean drinking water to those who need it without destroying the finite resources we have?
Gary Street
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and sobering discussion. Anyone that is concerned about the future of the Great Lakes, and their enormous store of fresh water (over 20% of the world's fresh water) must read this book. ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A little dated but an excellent book that explains the challenges of Great Lakes water management (many states, two countries). The focus at times seemed to involve water conservation due to low lake levels, but the past few years have now seen historic high water. Regardless, an excellent overview of the Great Lakes and their history over the past 100+ years. Excerpts are below:

- Water is a commodity, Mr. Rothman proclaimed. It's a lot like oil. We use oil to heat Boston, but that oil doesn't
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
(I read the original copyright version from 2006, not the updated one from 2018.)
Interesting book that talks about the history of water/watershed management within the Great Lakes basin, and how it led up to the creation of the Great Lakes Compact. Good information but it can get dry and boring in some parts, as it moves rather slowly in my opinion.

But very good information and things to think about, including:
-The reversal of the Chicago River is triumphed out to be such a great victory for pub
Sean Soard
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The definitive guide for Great Lakes water-diversion politics.

Peter Annin is the director of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College and, to be frank, appears to be one of the most knowledgeable water-policy experts in the great lakes. The book is thoroughly academic, almost to the point where it can be mapped out as a thesis or dissertation. Annin works diligently to explain why early political developments remain important decades later and to show how pers
Susan Miller
Jan 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was a very informative book about the fight over the water of the Great Lakes Basin. The book begins with the major diversion in Chicago of the change in flow direction of the Chicago River out of the Great Lakes Basin. The book goes on to cover diversion proposals, some accepted - others not in the various 8 States and 2 Canadian Provinces that share the Great Lakes water resource. The book also covers in some detail the decades long struggle to replace the first (a good beginning) water a ...more
Donna Schwartz
Aug 30, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: charlotte
This book started out with a lot of interesting information. It started out with descriptions of other lakes which were totally destroyed because of over use, like the Aral Sea (near the Middle East).
It also talked about the possible changes that climate change could impose on the Great Lakes water system.
I learned about the boundaries of the Great Lakes Drainage Basin. In some places it is very close to the lakes, as it is in some places near to Lake Michigan. This boundary lets you know that a
May 10, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of two great books on contemporary issues on the Great Lakes. The other is Dan Egan's The Death and Life of the Great Lakes . You could start with either. I think Egan's book is more approachable.

This book is a history of lawmaking: how and why the American states and Canadian provinces bordering the Great Lakes created laws that regulate how the water can be used. Many of the chapters are case studies on how the current laws and their predecessors were applied. You should avoid this book
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fantastic. I started to read parts of it for a research project (I interviewed the author. Lovely guy), but it was so compelling and well written I wanted to finish it. Not only does the author keep his opinion out of it (hello bipartisan journalism), he also researched the hell out of it. Everyone said this was the most comprehensive review of Great Lakes Water issues, and they were so right. I would recommend this to anyone, especially now that water is becoming the new gold of the ...more
Andrew Blok
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clear and comprehensive history of the fight over Great Lakes water. Who gets it? Who doesn't? Why does Chicago send so much Great Lakes water down the Mississippi each year. All of these questions have had different answers throughout the years and could again in the future. Annin does a great job of tracing the history that determines the landscape of Great Lakes water use and raising the issues that could become issues in the future. Well-researched and well-reported, I know the Great Lakes ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really good book that focuses on the great lakes but stresses the importance of water that we deal with everyday. The book was filled with a ton of information, but was easy to read and understand. I had no idea there was so much controversy over water diversions and especially over the biggest one, the Chicago River. In Chicago, we are taught about how much of an engineering feat it was and how it helped the city, but not about how much water it is diverting away from the basin. Really great ...more
Joshua Carney
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pete Annin has written a dynamite work that traces the history of diversion applications from the Chicago River to FoxConn. this book will take you all the way into federal, state and the local laws that shaped water diversion regulations over the last few centuries. Annin is a great writer and delivers heady content in an accessible way. This is a must read for Great Lakes enthusiast and those who care about the environmental future of one of Americas most treasured gems.
Marisa Kaddis
Feb 20, 2022 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2022-reads
2.5 stars

i did not finish this whole book, but i finished most of it. this book made me take living in michigan and having access to great lakes water way more seriously. a great read to learn about diversion tactics and laws surrounding the great lakes; though i do believe the chapters could’ve been shorter and packed with less information. the onslaught of information at all times made the principles of this book hard to grasp at times.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have-a-copy
This book was important reading for me as it gave a lot of information on the history of water management in the Great Lakes region. I would love the next additional come out with the updates to legislation - luckily the website was provided - I will have to continue growing my knowledge from there.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A timely tome given the issues faced this year by residents near Lake Ontario, water quality issues in other Great Lake states, and all the work in Digital Commons relating to water resources. Who will win, and who will lose remains to be seen, but if we don't become better stewards surely we all lose together. ...more
Norma Dushack
Jan 02, 2022 rated it really liked it
This is a factual account of what is happening to the great lakes. If you live here it is a worth while book to read. We need to preserve the great lakes because it is fifth largest fresh water lakes. It tells how other places have destroy their fresh water supply in the hopes that it helps us to understand how important this is.
Kim Johnson
Nov 14, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was my second book on the Great Lakes, specifically on their importance to the residents, how the invasive species have impacted the lakes, and the controversial diversions by communities not wholly in the Great Lakes Basin. I didn’t realize that if you take water from the lakes, you need to return the majority of what you take. It reads like a thriller!!
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was very helpful for contextualizing the history of water policy and diversions in the Great Lake's region. It's an up to date reflection that uses the history of diversions in the Great Lakes to make predictions about the future and sustainability of the Great Lakes Compact. ...more
Kimberly Simon
Good history of the politics and policy behind our water
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book for Research Nutrition. It opened my eyes to one of the major issues of sustainability. A bit long, but interesting.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Clearly written, impressive depth, and extremely pertinent background to the water crises of today. Will be a resource I'll turn back to regularly. ...more
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For everyone who cares deeply about the Great Lakes this book is a must read.
Jan 05, 2021 added it
Read in Fall 2019.
Aug 29, 2021 rated it liked it
Very interesting
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