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Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource Hardcover – January 28, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sedlak... has contributed a gem to the growing shelf of books on the emerging crisis surrounding water... An erudite romp through two millennia of water and sanitation practice and technology."  -Nature (2014-01-16)

"With the turn of a tap, clean water flows out. . . . It all seems so simple and obvious. And yet, as UC Berkeley Professor David Sedlak explains in his fact-packed new book, Water 4.0, such conveniences are really a marvel of engineering, built on centuries of trial and (often) error. More improvements are urgently needed as new challenges like climate change loom. So Sedlak's effort to engage the public on this oft-neglected subject is welcome." -Kate Galbraith, The San Francisco Chronicle (2014-02-21)

"Sedlak . . . has contributed a gem to the growing shelf of books on the emerging crisis surrounding water. . . . An erudite romp through two millennia of water and sanitation practice and technology."—Margaret Catley-Carlson, Nature
(Margaret Catley-Carlson Nature 2014-01-16)

“David Sedlak offers a clear window into the past and a positive vision of the future for one of our most precious resources: drinking water. Using tools of history, engineering, and story-telling, he gives us hope that society will continue to find new and innovative ways of providing this precious resource for all.”—Peter Gleick, editor of The World's Water series
(Peter Gleick 2013-10-23)

Water 4.0 captures an important story of the evolution of our current urban systems as well as discussing future options that are being researched today.”—Michael C. Kavanaugh, Principal, Geosyntec Consultants, Inc., and Member, National Academy of Engineering
(Michael C. Kavanaugh 2013-04-02)

“One of the great failings of the academic world is that we rarely attempt to inform the public in any detail about our research. Water 4.0 presents an interesting and informative approach to educating the public on an abbreviated history of water.”—William J. Cooper, University of California, Irvine
(William J. Cooper 2013-05-13)

“By translating a serious and essential topic into something more catchy and fascinating than a whodunit novel, David Sedlak has provided us with an intriguing history of human water use. Packed with riveting stories and examples, the book helps us appreciate from where we have come and where we need to go.”—Mathis Wackernagel, Global Footprint Network
(Mathis Wackernagel 2013-09-24)

“If you’ve ever wondered where your tap water comes from—and what’s still in it when you drink—Sedlak’s deeply-informed historical narrative provides the answers. Water 4.0 offers the clearest vision yet of how we’ll get our water in the future.”—Steven Solomon, author of Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, & Civilization
(Steven Solomon 2013-09-19)

“With the turn of a tap, clean water flows out. . . . It all seems so simple and obvious. And yet, as UC Berkeley Professor David Sedlak explains in his fact-packed new book, Water 4.0, such conveniences are really a marvel of engineering, built on centuries of trial and (often) error. More improvements are urgently needed as new challenges like climate change loom. So Sedlak’s effort to engage the public on this oft-neglected subject is welcome.”—Kate Galbraith, The San Francisco Chronicle
(Kate Galbraith The San Francisco Chronicle)

“The book is filled with intriguing historical detail . . . Sedlak is fairly described as a technocrat (he is a professor of engineering at Berkeley), but his book stimulates political reflection as well. The urban water crises he presents — historical and present day — not only run up against prevailing technological possibilities; they also have engaged political debates as to how we run and pay for our cities.”—Jeffery Atik, Los Angeles Review of Books
(Jeffery Atik Los Angeles Review of Books)

The National Water Research Institute 2014 Clarke Prize consists of a medallion and $50,000 to the winner. David Sedlak was selected as the 2014 recipient because of his pioneering research on advancing the way water resources and urban water infrastructure are managed, including implementing water reuse and reducing the discharge of emerging contaminants. His work has served as the foundation for major policy and technical initiatives to reduce the effects of these contaminants and protect public health. 
(Clarke Prize National Water Research Institute 2014-06-12)

Winner of the 2014 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the Engineering & Technology category.
(PROSE American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence 2015-02-16)

About the Author

David Sedlak is the Malozemoff Professor in the Department of of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, co-director of the Berkeley Water Center, and deputy director of the National Science Foundation’s engineering research center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt). He is the 2014 recipient of the National Water Research Institute Clarke Prize.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030017649X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300176490
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With drought in the news all over the country, this is a very important book and quite readable. The book looks at the history of drinking water beginning with ancient Rome, its chemistry, the story of how it is treated and delivered to our homes, and the challenges and changes that will be required to accommodate a growing world population.

The book is written in a lively and accessible style with lots of humor, fascinating anecdotes and personalities, and filled with counterintuitive observations, such as the fact that most of our drinking water in the future will come from sewage. (Some of it already is, but don't tell the residents of Houston that).

There are a number of books published about water. But most of them deal with the subject from a geo-political or world environmental perspective. This book is different. It's written by a hydrological engineer and explains the practical steps we need to take to avoid dying of thirst.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a dry, academic treatise on why humans have corrupted the earth, keep looking.

"Water 4.0" is a delightful, fascinating and ultimately very balanced treatment of humans and water: past, present, and future.

David Sedlak has won many awards and recognition for his innovative and high quality teaching at Berkeley, and it shows through in the book. You will probably put the book down and be amazed at how much you have learned about water and what an easy read it was. The author has produced a very readable tour of water and its importance to human civilization. Starting with the early efforts to channel fresh water to the present and an open view the future, the importance of water is delivered in a fascinating tour of Roman aqueducts, French sewers, Victorian battles for health, through modern systems for delivering water and removing wastes.

Ultimately, the reader is given a great primer on water and its importance to life and society, and in the end, positioned to consider how human society will continue to grow given the challenges of obtaining and providing clean water while removing wastes in sustainable ways. I think that the author has succeed in his goal of calling our attention to the importance of water to all of us, and how big those challenges are for both low resource and high resource societies.

More at his website: [...]
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
David Sedlak's treatise on the history and future prospects for water resources in our society is an eye-opening look at the remarkable engineering that has helped to make our civilization what it is today. His organization of water infrastructure development into four major "revolutions" seems appropriate and logical, and this treatment helps to explain the sometimes curious ways in which we currently access and dispose of the water we use. The book is an excellent read for both the expert and novice reader, and Professor Sedlak's deep understanding of the subject matter is readily apparent. The writing style is fun and easy to follow, and I found myself having many "aha!" moments as I read about development of treatment technologies and water delivery methods.

Most importantly, Sedlak takes great care to highlight the significant and critical challenges that we face at this particular moment with respect to both water quality and water quantity. It is abundantly clear that our society must reevaluate the way in which we use and dispose of water if we are to avoid serious environmental, social, and economic hardships. Water 4.0 should prove a rallying point for those interested in this important topic, and therefore I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about the health and well-being of both our society and the global environment.
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This book is a great learning opportunity for audiences ranging from the casual science-minded reader to those actively working in the water field. Sedlak tells an inspiring narrative of how populations over time have risen to the challenge of developing water conveyance and improving public and environmental health through water and wastewater treatment. The particular challenges confronted by regions all around the U.S. are explored through fascinating and detailed historical anecdotes. Most importantly, the book addresses the ways in which populations of different scale and geography may continue to provide clean water in a world with a changing climate and diminishing energy reserves. The book describes a challenging yet hopeful way forward, while remaining pragmatic and engaging throughout.
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Today's crises involving water quality and water quantity remind us of our primal connection to this precious resource and the sophisticated technology infrastructure that we have devised to ensure its reliable delivery. In the industrialized world, we truly take it all for granted. Dr. Sedlack's book helps us to understand why taking it for granted only defers the inevitable. Our invisible systems must be reinvented to meet the latest challenges we face. I emerged from this book deeply concerned but also very hopeful. The solutions to huge problems are within our imaginations.
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David Sedlak’s book is the clearest articulation of the multiple facets of urban water supply and water quality that I have read.

Many of us take for granted that water comes out of the tap when we turn it on, and that it disappears down the drain or toilet when we are finished with it. But what happens before the tap flows, and after water is used, is complex to the point of being amazing. It is also flawed and leaves tremendous room for improvement in efficiency and overall function.

In tackling this subject, Sedlak not only translates the technical workings of urban water systems into understandable language accessible to the non-specialist, but does so within an engaging narrative that puts technology into its historical context. More importantly, Sedlak gives us a look into the future: with coherent descriptions of urban water’s next incarnations, Water 4.0 throws down the gauntlet with a vision for reinvention of water systems.

This book is a must read for anyone who has ever wondered what it takes to get clean water to their home, where it goes to after they use it, and how we will need to change things to respond to an uncertain future.
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