More water resources at your library
Ryan Summerlin March 22, 2013
Kicking off this season’s Summit Reads project, Cynthia Barnett, author of “Blue Revolution,” will present a program on “the new water ethic” from 7-9 p.m. on Monday at the Silverthorne Pavilion. All are invited to attend – reading the book is not a requirement for attendance! The Summit Reads Committee hopes that many of you will attend and start thinking about and discussing this year’s topic.
In addition to Barnett’s book, other resources address the water crisis in this country and around the world. One of them is Charles Fishman’s 2011 book, “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water.” Chapters in his book include a discussion of water usage in Las Vegas, the distribution of recycled waste water in Australia and an expose of India’s water problems titled “Where Water Is Worshipped, but Gets No Respect.” Fishman’s message is a hopeful one: “Water problems are eminently solvable in an era when so many problems seem insurmountable. … Nothing stands in our way except our own attitudes.”
In “The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century,” author Alex Prud’Homme states: “Every time man uses water, it sets off a widening ripple effect that has consequences few people understand.” To help us understand, Prud’Homme writes about water quality, drought, flooding, fights over water rights and the confined aquifer in the San Luis Valley. Diverse topics all help to illustrate his thesis about the future of water.
Once you have enjoyed “Blue Revolution,” your interest in the history of water and, in particular, of our Western water wars may be piqued. A definitive narrative on Western expansion and its relationship to the development of water resources is “Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water,” by Marc Reisner. The culmination of more than 10 years of research, this book is part expose, part history and, mostly, an incredibly interesting story of corruption, avarice, competitiveness and the unbridled excitement surrounding new technologies and engineering.
Water as both a commodity and a right is a serious, emotional and ongoing topic, but Reisner brings what could be dry text to life with vivid biographies and witty descriptions of excesses and pork-barrel politics. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation competed fiercely for the opportunity to harness most of the country’s free-flowing waters. In “Cadillac Desert,” the individuals involved are brought to life so that one can understand their excitement when structures such as the Hoover Dam became realities. This historical and ecological classic is a must read.
Summit Reads strives to include the whole county, and we therefore invite our teen readers to join the fun. Young adults might enjoy “Rough Waters,” by S.L. Rottman; it’s a story of two boys orphaned and sent to live with an uncle they never knew existed. They move from a very comfortable existence in California to rather primitive quarters in a cabin in Buena Vista. Uncle Dave is a ski instructor in the winter and owns a river rafting company that operates in Brown’s Canyon in the summer.
The teens must learn the ways of the river and help on the guided trips. The lessons are not easy. The river can be a beautiful but dangerous taskmaster. The boys work with older young adults who are not always the best behavioral models. Then, too, there are girls to figure out and temptations to handle. This award-winning adventure is a page-turner, both for the story and the vivid descriptions of the Arkansas River.
Each branch library has a special bibliography of books on water. So if you want to slake your thirst for more reading on the topic of this year’s Summit Reads, just stop by your closest library in Silverthorne, Frisco or Breckenridge.