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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real fight begins
On May 8, 1892, a gang of workmen hired by Chicago entrepreneur Mr. McElroy invaded the town of Waukesha, Wisconsin. This gang was intent on laying a pipeline from Waukesha's Hygeia Spring to a suburb of Chicago. They were turned back by the citizens of that city in one of the few (to date) physical confrontations over water east of the Mississippi river.
In 2006,...
Published on February 25, 2007 by Dirk J. Willard

versus
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fluffy
This is the kind of book that gives the people who oppose careful stewardship of our natural resources the opportunity to paint environmentalists as out of touch kooks.

The book begins with an irrelevant discussion of the tragedy of the Aral Sea. The author totally ignores the fact that four of the Great Lakes, excluding Michigan, and their connecting straits...
Published on September 3, 2009 by John Mccarrier


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real fight begins, February 25, 2007
On May 8, 1892, a gang of workmen hired by Chicago entrepreneur Mr. McElroy invaded the town of Waukesha, Wisconsin. This gang was intent on laying a pipeline from Waukesha's Hygeia Spring to a suburb of Chicago. They were turned back by the citizens of that city in one of the few (to date) physical confrontations over water east of the Mississippi river.
In 2006, with their wells dry or contaminated, Waukesha, which lies just outside the edge of the Great Lakes basin, insisted on exemption from the return clause of the water compact signed the year before. The compact was the latest evolution of agreements between the 8 Great Lakes states and 2 provinces of Canada. The latest agreement was so troubled that only two governors attended the signing. As with all the other agreements, it stood on bog of technical and legal details that could easily be upset by the smallest challenge. "Waukesha is a poster child," admits Dan Duchniak, the embattled head of the Waukesha Water Utility, adding that the debate over Waukesha is "almost like a cyst that has grown into a cancerous tumor, and we need to figure out a way to treat it." (pg. 245)

With this and other examples, such as an attempt to ship a tanker of Great Lakes water to China, the author explains the difficulties in protecting this great natural resource. The chapter on the Aral Sea foretells the future of the lakes if governments can't find a way to appease industry while maintaining the lakes for future generations.

Anyone trying understand what we, those of us blessed to grow up along their shores, must do to protect the Great Lakes should read this book. Although the material is fairly complex, the author presents several anecdotal stories that are readable.

As the author says, the fight has only just begun. Over the past 20 years, the states and provinces around the Great Lakes have produced a basic framework. Unfortunately, companies like Nestle have fought in court for the right to export bottle water from the Great Lakes basin; as one official asked,what is the difference between a tanker of bottle water and a tanker of water? --Damn good point! Although they are fighting a losing battle, other challenges are on the horizon in a world running short of clean, fresh water.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At War Over Great Lakes Water, November 29, 2006
By 
Barbara Spring "greatlakeswoman" (Grand Haven, MI United States) - See all my reviews
Schemes to keep Great Lakes waters in the Great Lakes may look good on paper, but how they actually work or do not work is shown in The Great Lakes Water Wars. It is a practical book thoroughly researched by a veteran investigative reporter, Peter Annin and published by Island Press.

According to Annin, the key to keeping these freshwater lakes viable is to return the water to the lakes: that is to keep the waters in the Great Lakes watersheds and to take measures to conserve water. Diversions outside of these watersheds will deplete the lakes of water. Although the Great Lakes are large, they are fragile. Annin shows the consequences of unwise uses of water on other parts of the planet, for example the Aral Sea that has been depleted of most of its water.

This is an important book with words of caution for those who live in the Great Lakes watersheds.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Lakes aren't bottomless, May 24, 2007
By 
A. Kozak (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As a former resident of northeastern Ohio, growing up near the shores of Lake Erie, I expected to be captivated by Peter Annin's treatise on the water resources issues of the Great Lakes, and it did not disappoint. But I think there's plenty here for anyone interested in the expanding issue of water resource diversion, as it spreads from the notoriously thirsty southwest to the Great Lakes, which house 20% of the world's fresh surface waters.

The five lakes in the Great Lakes surface water drainage basin seem inexhaustible and have, for centuries, been treated that way by neighboring states and provinces. Massive pollution identified in the 1960s raised the first indication of the Lakes' vulnerability. Annin tackles the issues of water resource allocation in three sections. The first sets the stage by talking about surface water resource challenges generally, from the difference between water rights assumptions in the eastern and western US, to the disastrous overuse of the Aral Sea in the former USSR, to the unknown problems that will result from global warming.

The second section uses stories to articulate the political and economic challenges surrounding six specific water diversion cases in the Great Lakes basin. The third explains the attempts by the eight states and two provinces within the Great Lakes basin to agree on political and legal mechanisms for protecting and preserving this enormous resource. His book ends with a cliffhanger; in late 2005, an historic regional agreement was signed by all the states and provinces in the basin but it must be codified into law by each state and US Congress. His website tracks its progress: [..]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cautionary tale, March 31, 2007
"Today, when I stand on the shores of Lake Superior, I don't see a lake. I see a sprawling deep blue battleground that stretches from Duluth, Minnesota to Trois Rivières, Québec--and I wonder, who will win the war?" With these ominous words, Peter Anin launches into his account of the history of water issues in the Great Lakes.

Anin begins with a cautionary tale: the destruction of the Aral Sea in central Asia. Through government bungling and hubris, this once thriving ecosystem has lost 75% of its surface in the past 50 years. His message is clear; this could happen again, it could happen here.

What follows is a detailed account of the history of water issues and governmental policy in the Great Lakes region. There's enough analysis here to satisfy any policy wonk. But the true strength of Anin's book are the fascinating stories he tells of the diversion of mighty rivers, the desperate searches for safe drinking water, and the commercial exploitation of this precious resource.

Why this book, why now? The governors of the eight Great Lakes States have recently negotiated an agreement to protect this resource. The Great Lakes Compact must now be ratified by the legislatures of each state and the U.S. Congress. With this book, Anin makes an important contribution to the public understanding of the issues and urgency behind this legislation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Take Water for Granted, March 22, 2008
By 
Gregg Eldred (Avon Lake, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Every day, twice a day, I travel along the shores of Lake Erie. When traffic permits, I can't help but look out over the waters of the lake. It is not more than a mile from my house, we vacation on an island in it, we get our tap water from it, and it moderates our weather. In short, while we rarely think about it, it is always there, involved in our life.

I am now thinking more about Lake Erie, and the other Great Lakes, thanks to The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin.

Contents:
Author's Note
Prologue
Chapter 1: To Have and Have Not
Chapter 2: The Aral Experiment
Chapter 3: Rising Temperatures, Falling Water?
Chapter 4: Aversion to Diversion
Chapter 5: Reversing a River
Chapter 6: Long Lac and Ogoki
Chapter 7: Pleasing Pleasant Prairie
Chapter 8: Sacrificing Lowell
Chapter 9: Tapping Mud Creek
Chapter 10: Akron Gets the Nod
Chapter 11: The Nova Group and Annex 2001
Chapter 12: Marching toward a Compact
Chapter 13: Waukesha Worries
Chapter 14: Who Will Win the War?
Epilogue
[...]
Notes
Index

Early in the book, Peter Annin looks at the Aral Sea, probably the worst ecological disaster man has wrought upon the environment. While the reader may be aware of it, Annin takes a much more detailed look at the reasons an ramifications behind that "experiment." Using Central Asia as a cautionary tale, he goes around the world to the Great Lakes Basin, an area that is home to 40 million people in two countries. Using a well researched and balanced approach to the issue of water use and policy, he brings to the forefront a war that is raging within the United States and Canada over the use of the Great Lakes. This is not a new war, but it is one that is taking on importance since the fastest growing areas of the United States are also the ones that are farthest from sources of freshwater. It is also an issue within sight of a Great Lake, as seen in the reversal of the flow of the Chicago River and in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Annin's approach to the issue makes it accessible to the general reader. While the idea of reading a book centered on water may seem "dry" (sorry about that), he does an excellent job of bringing the issues to life by incorporating maps, graphics, and recent water cases. Some, like Akron, OH, strike close to home. He delves into the policies that shape Great Lakes water use, made more difficult because the governing body includes all states and provinces that are on the shoreline of a Great Lake. The characters and personalities involved in the policy-making liven up the chapters. I was surprised to learn that Ohio's own Sam Speck, head of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, had a key role in the discussions. He not only reports on the governments and their policies, but also on the business and environmental viewpoints as well. While he leaves the discussion in late 2005, early 2006, his website, greatlakeswaterwars.com, will provide you with additional information and updates, making this a "living" book.

I live within a watershed that contains 20% of all of the freshwater in the world. Four of the lakes rank in the top ten largest freshwater lakes by area. Three of the lakes rank in the top ten freshwater lakes in volume. I have known, for a while, that I live in a very unique area of the United States. While many of my parent's friends moved to warmer climes, I kept wondering where they expected to get their water. As more people move to places that shouldn't exist, like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, my source of freshwater will take on new and important meaning. This point was driven home when Annin reported on the issues facing Waukesha, WI. That is a place where people move with no regard to water. And they have a major issue. How many others move without asking about the natural resources available to them? What about you? Is the only time you think about water is when your city tells you not to water your lawn? This is an important book, not only for the people that live within the Great Lakes Basin, but as a glimpse into an issue that will shape the future of the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. It is also a review of how the Great Lakes states and provinces view water use and conservation. While we may share the resource, we don't share the same viewpoint, and that was a real education.

Annin provides a lot of facts and figures, but they don't bog down the reader. He tries to keep the book flowing (again, sorry) and does a very good job, especially when he brings the people into the discussion. Breaking up the work, by using some key graphics and pictures, keeps the material interesting and also allows the reader to gain further insight into the issues. Some of his notes further expand on the points he was making, and also provide additional reading material, if you want to know more about the Great Lakes Basin and key information in the chapters.

Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Lakes Water Wars is an excellent read, August 8, 2007
By 
Peter E. Black (Syracuse, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I started out to skim Peter Annin's book, determine what to say, and decide how to write a requested review. I had no trouble becoming completely engrossed at the start of the Author's Note and Prologue, and read the whole thing. Cover to cover. I do not need to abridge all its contents in great detail, nor could I begin to accomplish that task as eloquently, chronologically, and thoroughly as does the author anyway. What's more, the stories presented are fascinating and rapidly ensnare the reader. It will be of value to active professionals, students, politicians, NGO participants, and elected officials as well as to residents of the Great Lakes Basin, and to those who think they can tap into its abundant waters. What's more, it is informative and fun to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Battle for Water, September 30, 2009
This review is from: The Great Lakes Water Wars (Paperback)
This 2006 book by Peter Annin, is a comprehensive and well balanced accounting of the 20 year "under the radar" battles between states and provinces regarding water use and water policy in the Great Lakes Basin. I've lived in Michigan most of my life and never fully realized that we reside within a watershed that contains almost 20% of the world's fresh water. Many scientists, ecologists and water managers have been telling us for years that there is a water crisis coming. It is here! There are currently at least 30 states in the U.S in some from of water stress, from serious to severe. Why? Water is running low and we haven't been able to protect it. We are massively polluting surface water, we are mining groundwater faster than it can be replenished by nature, which means not allowing the hydrologic cycle to renew itself. We are interrupting the natural cycle, sending one third of our water out of watersheds, it's just not sustainable in the long haul. A friend of mine attended a water managers conference in Las Vegas three years ago and heard many scientists say "Read my lips this isn't a drought, this is a permanent drying out". " We are overpumping the Ogallalla, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, our back up systems are being depleted and it ain't no drought".

Mr. Annin gives us a historical insight into behind the scenes lobbying and politicking between governments, NGO's, corporate and environmental interests over an issue that will certainly help shape the future of the United States and the world. He does an excellent job of presenting the issues by incorporating local news coverage, graphs, legal cases, personal interviews and physical and topographic maps. The Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact ("The Compact") is now a legislative agreement among eight U.S Great Lakes States and two Canadian provinces to prevent diversions and regulate withdrawls that would harm the waters of the Great Lakes. In 2008, it was approved by Congress and signed by the President. Without this legislative roadblock, you can be assured that years down the road, some western states would attempt to pilfer our Great Lakes water.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bridge Over Troubled Waters, July 23, 2009
This review is from: The Great Lakes Water Wars (Paperback)
This is a plainly written, informative book about the attempts being made to manage the increasingly scarce resource of Great Lakes fresh water. It provides a bridge of understanding over these increasingly troubled waters.

The U.S. States and Canadian Provinces that ring the Great Lakes came to an initial agreement some years ago stipulating that only cities and towns lying within the watershed of the Great Lakes would qualify to hook up to supply lines that tap those waters. Water used within the basin would largely be returned to the Lakes by gravity. That way, with consumption limited to local use, the Lakes would be less likely to get depleted. Feeling has run high that territories outside the privileged circle should never be allowed to raid the supply.

The introductory chapters deal with general dangers facing the Great Lakes. There is also an overview of some radical solutions that communities have resorted to in the past to address plumbing problems. Chicago reversed its River to run, not into Lake Michigan as it naturally would - but into the Mississippi River and ultimately out into the Gulf. There's a very good explanation of this engineering feat and an excellent map showing the path that the diverted Chicago effluent in the River takes. A reader might wish there were more such large, distinct maps scattered throughout the book, as well as a few more basic definitions, such as ones clarifying the difference between "upstream" and "downstream."

Then many of the subsequent chapters deal with specific cases in which borderline municipalities have applied to be fed by the great natural reservoir of the Great Lakes. Many of these chapters get into some fairly detailed descriptions of the legal and political considerations that followed on the heels of a town's application to tap the Lakes. However, I still think these chapters will be of general interest because most of them illustrate some larger point.

For example, one chapter points out that water in the western part of the U.S. is considered private property, something to be owned like parcels of land. However tradition in the Midwest and East has generally given water a quasi-communal status under the "riparian reasonable use doctrine." Local users who can demonstrate a legitimate need have often been allowed to simply run pipes. But as clean water is decreasing and tensions are increasing - the rules are changing. New concords are being written. There is a call to elevate these informal agreements to the level of enforceable laws.

This book will acquaint you with issues that government officials everywhere are, or soon will be, facing about who can gain access to water. It provides examples of practical legal tactics that communities have used to advance their claims. So these pages will definitely interest people currently embroiled in bitter negotiations to tap certain water supplies. But it will also be of general interest, since many environmentalists are predicting that water is the scarce resource that will trigger hostilities worldwide in the near future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A choice read, ideal for understanding the biggest threats to the Great Lakes today, August 17, 2009
Could the Great Lakes become something not so great? "The Great Lakes Water Wars" discusses the trouble that could be coming to the people of the Great Lakes soon, as unregulated water usage of its resources could drain the Great Lakes to virtual puddles. Telling the story of the environmental and legal battles spilling out over this subject, "The Great Lakes Water Wars" is a choice read, ideal for understanding the biggest threats to the Great Lakes today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read., April 11, 2008
By 
Magirck (Milwaukee, WI) - See all my reviews
As a hydrologist in the Great Lakes' basin, this book is a great read. It brings the science into lay terms, without making gross generalizations. Easy to read, and highly interesting. Even after studying Great Lakes water issues for 3 years, I learned a think or two. Change begins with awareness.
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The Great Lakes Water Wars
The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin (Paperback - August 25, 2009)
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