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The Great Lakes Water Wars

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  255 ratings  ·  48 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
Shelves: geo-med-env
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.
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
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.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Shelves: work, chicago, history
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.
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.
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.
Kevin Sterne
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not a single mention of the Nestle/Michigan conflict
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For everyone who cares deeply about the Great Lakes this book is a must read.
Brandon Pytel
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book about the policies and practices of water diversion in the Great Lakes region and the extent to which governments will go to in order to stop such practices. As water becomes more limited out West and in other parts of the world, Great Lakes states have become more aware of the precious resource they have in their back yard.

Annin dives into case studies like that of the Aral Sea while discussing ways water serves communities. Complicated by the emergence of global warming, and the L
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is an overview about the Great Lakes, water rights, and how the states and provinces in the region are working to control their own destiny and protect their most notable natural resource. The book takes the events up to 2006. The politics of the issue are pretty interesting, in that most of the issues are purely geographic rather than partisan. It is also interesting how the different partners in the Compact view each other. Michigan hates any diversion of water from the drainage basi ...more
Emery Ellingson
Dec 08, 2009 added it
Recommends it for: conservationist, people that live in Great Lakes Watershed
Recommended to Emery by: public librarian
Peter Anninn begins his book Great Lakes Water Wars by stating “… if the twentieth century was the century of oil, then the twenty-first century will be the century of water.” and although this is an appropriate beginning to the book considering the title, but more importantly, it reflects the growing importance of water resources and the laws that govern these resources. (Annin 3) The topic of Annin’s book is the Great Lakes and although there are many problems facing the Great Lakes such as p ...more
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a life long resident of the Great Lakes regions, with the exception of a 2 year stint in South Carolina, the lakes have always inspired a sense of wonder. Growing up in NW Indiana where we were a 10 minute drive to the shores of Lake Michigan we never really thought about water. It wasn't until I was in college at Indiana University in their environmental science program that I really started looking at the lakes as a finite resource that needs to be conserved and respected for its natural wo ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the Great Lakes or is interested in water use conflicts. It's a bit dated (2006) since it ends just after the Great Lakes Compact but before it was ratified. It's still relevant, as evidenced by the proposed diversion of Lake Michigan water outside the Great Lakes Basin for Waukesha, Wisconsin, that is currently under review in Wisconsin before it goes to the other Great Lakes states & provinces under the compact.

The author interviewed numerous po
Bill Sleeman
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it

The Great Lakes Water Wars was well researched and informative. Author Peter Annin does a great and fair job presenting the many sides of the question of how to best protect the Great Lakes. An increasingly important issue as western states continue to suffer through the worst drought in decades (and maybe centuries) – it is only a matter of time before the politicians and corporate interest in those regions again look to the Great Lakes as the solution to their failed water practices. If you lo

Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cpl-pick
I was intrigued by the topic and it was on the Chicago Public Library's summer reads for adults - Read Green Live Green. I do value the deliciousness of the Lake Michigan water from my tap and the potential harm that taking it for granted would bring. However, the book should have been edited better and was hard to get through. The illustrations and maps of the Great Lakes Basin and the diversions and damns were nice but couldn't cover the fact the author was not concise. I could have lived with ...more
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