Where the water goes Life and death along the Colorado River

David Owen, 1955-

Book - 2017

The Colorado River is a crucial resource for a surprisingly large part of the United States, and every gallon that flows down it is owned or claimed by someone. David Owen traces all that water from the Colorado's headwaters to its parched terminus, once a verdant wetland but now a million-acre desert. He takes readers on an adventure downriver, along a labyrinth of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, farms, fracking sites, ghost towns, and RV parks, to the spot near the U.S.-Mexico border... where the river runs dry. Water problems in the western United States can seem tantalizingly easy to solve: just turn off the fountains at the Bellagio, stop selling hay to China, ban golf, cut down the almond trees, and kill all the lawyers. But a closer look reveals a vast man-made ecosystem that is far more complex and more interesting than the headlines let on.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

333.91/Owen
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 333.91/Owen Checked In
Subjects
Published
New York : Riverhead Books 2017.
Language
English
Physical Description
274 pages : map ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 261-266) and index.
ISBN
9781594633775
1594633770
Main Author
David Owen, 1955- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Although considerably shorter than the nation's longest river, the Missouri, and much narrower in most spots than the mighty Mississippi, the Colorado River nonetheless rivals the other two in the number of states it crosses and the amount of people served by its circuitously flowing waters. Often referred to as "the American Nile" for its multiple uses and the indelible marks it has carved into the southwestern landscape, including the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River captivated New Yorker staff writer Owen (The Conundrum, 2012) enough over the years to inspire this eloquent survey of the waterway's geography and its many impacts on nearby life. Interweaving descriptions from his own explorations of the river on the ground and in the air, Owen offers a wealth of engrossing and often surprising details about the complicated nature of water rights, recreational usage (worth $26 billion a year), and depletion threats from climate change and the fracking industry. With water shortages looming across the globe, Owen's work provides invaluable lessons on the rewards and pitfalls involved in managing an essential natural resource. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The Colorado River supplies water to 36 million people and six million acres of farmland, and its historically lush delta wetlands are now desert. Water issues in the American West are thus complicated, as they're deeply bound up with a human environment. From New Yorker staff writer Owen (Green Metropolis).. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

New Yorker staff writer Owen (The Conundrum; Green Metropolis) tackles the twisted history of the Colorado River. Water rights drafted in the gold rush era and formalized on miscalculations in the early 20th century are still controversial today. Farmers, businesses, cities, states, and Mexico clash over a water supply constantly decreasing as a result of changes in weather and population. The author includes the exploration and development history of the waterway and biographies of legendary figures such as John Wesley Powell, who led a three-month expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers, and riverboat pilot Nellie Bush. Owen travels the length of the Colorado from the headwaters to the delta (now dry) by plane, by car, and on foot, talking to stakeholders about their issues. This purposefully rambling narrative frames the discussion of water as a vital continental concern. VERDICT An essential read for not only the environmentally minded but also all citizens who are curious about where their water comes from. Highly recommended for public, school, and academic libraries. [Prepub Alert, 10/10/15.]—Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The Colorado River, the main water source of America's desert Southwest, flows sorely vexed to the sea—almost—in this revealing investigation of hydroecology in extremis. New Yorker contributor Owen (The Conundrum) follows the Colorado from its Rocky Mountain headwaters to the point where it trickles out in the Mexican desert, well short of its historical outlet to the sea, visiting the massive infrastructures—the mighty Hoover Dam, giant pipes, pumping stations, canals, and humble sprinklers—that divert its waters for millions of uses. Along the way he encounters people whose lives entwine with the river, including lawyers wrangling endlessly over arbitrary apportionment rules—existing allotments grant various users more water than actually flows in the river—and utility planners trying to stretch the flow among a growing population, as well as ordinary farmers, boaters, and the quirky subculture of transient RV camps on its banks. Through his reportage, Owen teases out the contradictions of the complex issues surrounding the Colorado: water conservation efforts, he finds, can do more harm than good because allegedly "wasted" water often returns to replenish the river and aquifers. Rather than simply bemoan environmental degradation, Owen presents a deeper, more useful analysis of the subtle interplay between natural and human needs. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (Apr.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The author of The Conundrum presents a revelatory account of where our water comes from and where it goes, examining the complicated human-made ecosystem of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, fracking sites and farms that contribute to shortage issues in the western United States.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Presents an account of where America's water comes from and where it goes, examining the complicated human-made ecosystem of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, fracking sites, and farms that contribute to water shortages in the West.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An eye-opening account of where our water comes from and where it all goes.The Colorado River is an essential resource for a surprisingly large part of the United States, and every gallon that flows down it is owned or claimed by someone. David Owen traces all that water from the Colorado's headwaters to its parched terminus, once a verdant wetland but now a million-acre desert. He takes readers on an adventure downriver, along a labyrinth of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, farms, fracking sites, ghost towns, and RV parks, to the spot near the U.S.'mexico border where the river runs dry. Water problems in the western United States can seem tantalizingly easy to solve: just turn off the fountains at the Bellagio, stop selling hay to China, ban golf, cut down the almond trees, and kill all the lawyers. But a closer look reveals a vast man-made ecosystem that is far more complex and more interesting than the headlines let on.The story Owen tells in Where the Water Goes is crucial to our future: how a patchwork of engineering marvels, byzantine legal agreements, aging infrastructure, and neighborly cooperation enables life to flourish in the desert 'and the disastrous consequences we face when any part of this tenuous system fails.