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June 16, 2011 / Dr. Toad

Freshwater quality, drought, flood, and future

The Ripple Effect book coverAlex Prud’homme wrote a book called The Ripple Effect, about fresh water. He was talking about it and reading from it last night at Town Hall, and I went to listen. It was an interesting evening, not just because the subject matter is fascinating and alarming, but also because of the questions and comments that came from the small-numbered audience (maybe 25 people?).

You have probably heard a lot of it but not all in one spot: the quality of water in the US and what goes in it, the droughts and the floods, and the current and future use of this access resource, of this primary resource that’s needed for all other resources, as it runs scarce. After listening to Prud’homme, I’m definitely going to read the book. And if you do too, you’ll learn something about a Texas billionaire sitting on an aquifer and hoping to sell its water to the highest bidder (while publicizing wind farms). Or maybe you’ll learn something about the resource war for Bristol Bay, AK and its mineral deposits and the mining industry vs. water, fisheries, ecosystems and local and Native populations.

But some of the most interesting stuff last night came from the audience question time, which was more like comment time. A few people complained about rainwater collection for home use being illegal or heavily regulated in WA. Er… this isn’t true. Both the state of WA and the city of Seattle seem to encourage, not prohibit, rainwater collection.

Prud’homme concluded with a list of 10 things you can do to conserve water. I’m glad the yucky “if it’s yellow let it mellow” wasn’t on it. In my opinion, you’ll get better results if more people take smaller steps.

Recommendation: accept.

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