Cover image for Water follies : groundwater pumping and the fate of America's fresh waters
Water follies : groundwater pumping and the fate of America's fresh waters
Glennon, Robert Jerome, 1944-
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Island Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 314 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TD223 .G58 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
TD223 .G58 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"...a book as rich in detail as it is devastating in its argument." -SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN "Water Follies deserves a place alongside the late Marc Reisner's classic Cadillac Desert." -ENVIRONMENT "a lively account of hydrology" -NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS "if you want to scare yourself silly, read Water Follies, by Robert Jerome Glennon. In it you'll learn how America is irrigating itself to death-just like the Sumerians-while sucking its groundwater aquifers dry." -TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL "Even if you are not working with water issues, you should read this book for a wider awareness of the depth and importance of groundwater impacts, right down to the bottle of water you are probably drinking right now." -CONSERVATION IN PRACTICE "To law professor Robert Glennon, the names Perrier and Poland pack a fearful punch, for they and the other huge producers of bottled water are feeding a craze that puts the environment on the brink of disaster." -PUBLISHERS WEEKLY The Santa Cruz River that once flowed through Tucson, Arizona is today a sad mirage of a river. Except for brief periods following heavy rainfall, it is bone dry. The cottonwood and willow trees that once lined its banks have died, and the profusion of birds and wildlife recorded by early settlers are nowhere to be seen. The river is dead. What happened? Where did the water go. As Robert Glennon explains in Water Follies, what killed the Santa Cruz River -- and could devastate other surface waters across the United States -- was groundwater pumping. From 1940 to 2000, the volume of water drawn annually from underground aquifers in Tucson jumped more than six-fold, from 50,000 to 330,000 acre-feet per year. And Tucson is hardly an exception -- similar increases in groundwater pumping have occurred across the country and around the world. In a striking collection of stories that bring to life the human and natural consequences of our growing national thirst, Robert Glennon provides an occasionally wry and always fascinating account of groundwater pumping and the environmental problems it causes. Robert Glennon sketches the culture of water use in the United States, explaining how and why we are growing increasingly reliant on groundwater. He uses the examples of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro rivers in Arizona to illustrate the science of hydrology and the legal aspects of water use and conflicts. Following that, he offers a dozen stories -- ranging from Down East Maine to San Antonio's River Walk to Atlanta's burgeoning suburbs -- that clearly illustrate the array of problems caused by groundwater pumping. Each episode poses a conflict of values that reveals the complexity of how and why we use water. These poignant and sometimes perverse tales tell of human foibles including greed, stubbornness, and, especially, the unlimited human capacity to ignore reality. As Robert Glennon explores the folly of our actions and the laws governing them, he suggests common-sense legal and policy reforms that could help avert potentially catastrophic future effects. Water Follies, the first book to focus on the impact of groundwater pumping on the environment, brings this widespread but underappreciated problem to the attention of citizens and communities across America.

Author Notes

Robert Glennon teaches water law, constitutional law, and an American legal history course on the Colorado River at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, where he is the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Glennon (law and public policy, Univ. of Arizona) has assembled a dozen stories that contain more than two dozen case histories of major environmental damage caused by excessive pumping of ground water in various parts of the US. The facts assembled in each case are impressive, and the root causes of the excessive pumping are set out in great detail. Glennon explores the social, legal, and political background as well as the geological framework for each case history. Included is a 50-page bibliography for anyone wanting more information. The book is both interesting and informative, although Glennon's advocacy for a good cause somewhat slants his objectivity in some cases. Recommended as background reading for anyone studying environmental geology, whether as student, faculty, or professional. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. C. W. Dimmick Central Connecticut State University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1. The Worth of Water in the United Statesp. 13
2. Human Reliance on Groundwaterp. 23
3. How Does a River Go Dry? The Santa Cruz in Tucsonp. 35
4. A River at Risk: The Upper San Pedro River in Arizonap. 51
5. Tampa Bay's Avarice: Cypress Groves, Wetlands, Springs, and Lakes in Floridap. 71
6. The Tourist's Mirage: San Antonio's River Walk, the Edwards Aquifer, and Endangered Speciesp. 87
7. Suburban Development and Watershed Initiatives: Massachusetts' Ipswich River Basinp. 99
8. A Game of Inches for Endangered Chinook Salmon: California's Cosumnes River, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Sacramento Sprawlp. 113
9. Wild Blueberries and Atlantic Salmon: Down East Mainep. 127
10. Size Does Count, at Least for French Fries: Minnesota's Straight Riverp. 143
11. The Black Mesa Coal Slurry Pipeline: The Hopi Reservation in Arizonap. 155
12. Is Gold or Water More Precious? Mining in Nevadap. 169
13. All's Fair in Love and Waterp. 183
14. The Future of Water: Tourism and Grand Canyon National Parkp. 195
15. The Tragedy of Law and the Commonsp. 209
Appendixp. 225
Glossaryp. 237
List of Acronymsp. 245
Bibliographyp. 247
Acknowledgmentsp. 297
Indexp. 301