Water is vital for life, and it's time that we stopped taking it for granted.
Starting Monday, the Summit Reads Community Project returns for the third year with events and discussions focused on the book "Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis," by Cynthia Barnett. The series will kick off with a presentation by the author, titled "A New Water Ethic."
Barnett said she will talk about America's illusion of water abundance and the extent to which this illusion has given us a complacency about water, even as scarcity looms.
"It's especially important in communities so dependent upon water like Summit County," she said in an email. "So the first half of the talk is about what's gone wrong, but in the second half, I come back to the inspiration, with stories of how we can live differently with water and what the water ethic might look like in Summit County and around the nation."
Barnett began reporting on water many years ago in her home state of Florida, which people tend to think of as a really water-rich state.
"But springs here are drying up," she said. "Rivers are suffering; freshwater aquifers up and down the Eastern seaboard are dealing with saltwater intrusion. My first book told the strange tale of vanishing water in the wet East. For 'Blue Revolution,' I traveled around the country and the world to reveal the bigger picture but, more importantly, to show people how we can live differently."
The book is a call for a water ethic for America, Barnett said.
"The fact is that water managers and water lawyers, engineers and environmentalists haven't been able to save our water resources for future generations and ecosystems," she said. "Water now needs the rest of us. The water ethic is grounded in community, so I think there is no better possible venue than a communitywide read to light the flame."
This book is relevant to Summit County residents, a headwater county whose largest body of water, Dillon Reservoir, is controlled by Front Range interests, said the Summit Reads committee. As we enter yet another drought year, the book's message is even more relevant, the committee said.
Summit Reads started in 2011 with the book "Omnivore's Dilemma," by Michael Pollan. The program won a $2,000 grant that year from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, said Jen Miller, business and marketing consultant. She said the grant money is still being used to cover the costs to print fliers that get posted at local schools, bookmarks handed out at the library, drinks and chips that are provided at the book discussions and prizes for the kids' poster contests.
"We were also nominated last year for our efforts on 'The Big Burn' as 'program of the year' to the Fire and Life Safety Educators of Colorado," she said. "We didn't win, but it was exciting to be nominated. And last year's book turned out to be extremely timely with the fires going on throughout the state, which meant that we had as many as 135 people attending events. ... It made for some truly lively book discussions."
Copies of this year's book, "Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis," are available at Summit County's Main Library and at the North and South branches in Silverthorne and Breckenridge, respectively, or you can buy the book at The Next Page bookstore in Frisco.
Summit Reads is sponsored by the Summit County Library, Summit County Rotary, Summit Daily News, Lake Dillon Fire and Rescue, CSU-Extension, Next Page Book Store, Colorado Mountain College and the Holiday Inn.