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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be Required Reading, November 7, 2002
By 
heygrey (Cedar Key, FL United States) - See all my reviews
Water Follies is fascinating--and frightening--and should be required reading for all Americans. Don't be put off by the pedantic subtitle: It's easy reading. Scholarly but accessible. Enlightening but not preachy. Glennon will pull you into the groundwater but his wry sense of humor will keep you from drowning.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Environmentalists, November 24, 2002
By 
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I thought I had a pretty good understanding of issues relating to fresh water and the environment. I didn't, but I do now after reading Water Follies.
This is a very important book for anyone interested in the environment. I am pretty well read on environmental topics and was surprised by how much I learned from Glennon's very readable book.
The author explains very clearly the interrelationships among ground water, lakes, rivers, and the damage we have done and are doing to the environment through mindless groundwater pumping.
Fresh water shortages and ground water pumping are going to be front page stories over the next few years. Water Follies will enable you to appreciate the issues involved and to develop a well informed opinion.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clarion warning, December 8, 2002
Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping And The Fate Of America's Fresh Waters by Robert Glennon (Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Arizona) is a timely and much needed wake-up call concerning the all-too-frequent pollution and misuse of the groundwater tables that America relies upon for fresh drinking water. Consisting of a selection of anecdotes about how the Santa Cruz River in Tucson went dry, the rampant greed in Tampa Bay, watershed initiatives concerning Massachusetts' Ipswitch River Basin, and a great deal more, Water Follies is a clarion warning and very strongly recommended contribution for Environmental Studies reference collections.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pumping too Much, August 23, 2006
By 
This review is from: Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping And The Fate Of America's Fresh Waters (Paperback)
Glennon writes in plain English to warn Americans of the growing danger under our feet. We are pumping groundwater, the gift of fresh and wholesome well water, at an unsustainable rate across the country. Glennon ties groundwater to surface water and illustrates in terms that are as accessible as they are urgent that the United States is headed for a crisis of our own making.

Using a number of case studies, Glennon gives us a glimpse of the American approach to ground water. Throughout much of the US, ground water is considered legally separate from surface water. Within this legal framework, there are few restrictions placed on the use (and abuse) of a critical resource that respects neither property lines nor political boundaries. Indeed, the law encourages abuse with a use-it-or-lose it philosophy to ownership of ground water. Whoever pumps the most wins. Unfortunately, we are pumping so much ground water that rivers, lakes, and ponds across the nation are running dry--ruining many local ecosystems in the process and setting ourselves up for major economic ramifications. With the studies Glennon has chosen, he shows us the consequences of unrestricted ground water pumping for lawns, for agricultural uses, and in support of mining. In every case, Glennon demonstrates that we are doing grave damage to ourselves with our profligate pumping.

This book belongs on the reading list of all high school and college students, regardless of major or course of study.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The biggest pump wins!, August 28, 2005
If we say "Glennon covers all the ground" in a book about water, will the reader be confused? Let's take the risk, since that is precisely what the author does in this excellent study. From the ways in which water collects or flows on the land's surface to the movement of water deep in the earth, Glennon carefully explains how water accumulates. He describes farm, mining and even water for scenic tourist views.Water consumption has been an economic, social and legal issue since the colonies were founded almost four centuries ago.

The legacy of those early efforts to distribute water to thirsty farms and communities is a central theme of this book. As settlement moved westward, readily available water waned. Contention arose between early settlers and those arriving later. Farm use of water was challenged by mining and industry as communities grew. In the West, as available surface water was used or claimed, fresh sources were sought. These proved to be buried deep beneath the surface - "ground water". Ground water was a mysterious resource to many - it still is, according to Glennon. Although it's known that, like streams, ground water reserves must be "recharged", only a little is understood about the rate of inflow or, too often, the source of refreshment. In a nation that consumes over 5000 litres per person per day, the availability of fresh water is a major consideration.

Glennon presents a string of vignettes of water issues in the USA. The selection process allows him to present a spectrum of issues surrounding water availability and use. Although naturally focussing his study in the West where availability and variations in types of demand complicate an already complex area. The stops include San Antonio, a minor river in California, mining in Arizona and Nevada. The East isn't ignored - rivers in Massachusetts and Florida are impacted by groundwater pumping. A Florida case is most enlightening. Groundwater pumping drained moist soils, putting houses at risk and drying lakes. The lake problem was addressed by re-filling the lakes - with more groundwater!

Nearly every case demonstrates the level of ignorance surrounding how water moves and impacts its environment. The legal issues Glennon discusses air this problem admirably. The law considerations range from "the commons" [where all have access] to those who settle first gaining full rights which followers must adapt to or contest. Western court archives are stuffed with litigation records over access. In too many cases, decisions have rested on who needs the most water - the biggest pump often wins. Glennon explains how the science of hydrography and legal decisions over water are often at best disparate. In other cases the two disciplines are sharply at odds. His conclusion suggests these divergencies can be overcome. A number of compromises will have to be reached. The biggest problem, however, is establishing realistic priorities regarding consumption. The biggest problem is data. Collecting it while water is being consumed at astronomical rates won't be a simple task. The water is running out faster than reserves can be measured. When the USA runs out of water, they will seek it elsewhere - a fact all Canadians are well aware of. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner!, December 19, 2002
By A Customer
Glennon is a gifted writer who sucks you in from the opening pages of the introduction and makes you care about the outcomes of the stories he presents. In a witty and accessible style he tells the alarming story of the devastating effects of groundwater pumping, effects that are not limited to the desert areas of this country. This is a book for all of us! Although engaging and readable the book is packed with enough information to provide me (not a legal or environmental scholar) with the data I need to speak in an informed fashion to tell decision makers and friends that we need to do something about this before it's too late.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book any hydrology student should read, July 24, 2003
By 
Nicholas (Virginia Beach, VA USA) - See all my reviews
I read this book during a summer program dealing with freshwater resources throughout the world. It not only helped my progression through the course, but also gave me a new perspective on water as a resource. In the US most of us do not give a second thought to the water we use in our everyday lives. Even in regions plagued by drought modern technology adds to the illusion that water is everywhere and limitless. However, any reader of this book will tell you differently. It takes you through different case studies through out the country where water use has had dramatic influence on the environment we live in. It explains not just the science of the situation but also the politics often behind the scenes as well. I would highly recommend this book to any student, professor, or hobbyist with an interest in hydrology.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The same motives as Scheherazade, January 18, 2003
By A Customer
Most recent controversy over the use and conservation of America's fresh water has concerned the water visible on the surface - river and lakes. With that as an implicit focus, we frequently argue over where dams ought to be built, what fields ought to be irrigated and at whose cost, whether homes in flood plains ought to be insured at public expense, and so forth.
Robert Glennon, a professor of law at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, wants to draw our attention to invisible water, and to the question how we might best avoid either polluting or running out of it.
Early on, he tells the story of Ubar, a city of ancient Arabia, an oasis for the camel caravans of its time, and a place of fabulous wealth. Scheherazade spoke of Ubar in one of her thousand-and-one tales, as did countless bedouins around countless campfires. It became an Arabian Sodom, reputedly destroyed at the peak of its splendor by an angry God. What Glennon adds is that Ubar (in what we now call Oman) was a very real place.
In the 1980s, an amateur archeologist, Nicholas Clapp, led an expedition that successfully located and unearthed the fortress that had once guarded the precious spring-fed well that had made the city a port of call for those desert-crossing voyagers. It now appears that sometime between 300 and 500 AD, Ubar simply fell. It collapsed of its own weight, into a huge underground limestone cavern - the cavern that its wells had progressively emptied of water. The groundwater had held the city up, physically as well as fiscally. So Ubar, having exended its capital, sank out of sight, and entered legend as the "Atlantis of the desert" (T.E. Lawrence's phrase.)
Glennon tells this story for the same three reasons that Scheherazade did: to charm, to instruct, to survive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Water Follies, May 13, 2009
This review is from: Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping And The Fate Of America's Fresh Waters (Paperback)
Water Follies (Robert Glennon, 2002) is an amusingly written book about a serious problem in America: namely, groundwater pumping and its effect on various surface water sources. Glennon takes his reader on a tour of the country stopping at various sites of groundwater overuse. He meticulously describes the state of affairs in sites ranging in scenario and geographical location from wetlands around Tampa Bay, to Salmon spawning grounds in eastern Maine, to the increasingly taxed area of Grand Canyon National Park. The tour makes eleven stops in total each one with its own unique spin on the overall water predicament in this country. Yet the book is not without its bright spots. Glennon writes with a playful sense of humor and his sometimes bitterly sarcastic view of the state of affairs regarding America's freshwaters does not leave the reader without hope for the future. Rather, Glennon is sure to end his discussion with eight clear and distinct steps for lawmakers and citizens alike toward righting the wrongs he sees in our current water usage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging read about a grave issue, May 10, 2013
Glennon does an admirable job of addressing the historical, political, economical, and legal causes of this crisis in addition to the environmental causes. His overview of American water use synthesizes over two hundred years of exploitation and squabbling over claims. At the end of the book, I felt like I'd obtained a comprehensive account of water usage across the United States. The result reveals the convoluted ways Americans think of a resource that is so necessary for life.

His writing style was refreshing for a student used to textbooks. He uses plenty of anecdotal evidence to advance his argument. And while this is a very emotionally engaging and illustrative way to convey the situation, it also causes the book to jump around a lot. For example, within one chapter, we jump from an anecdote about oyster fishing in Florida's estuaries to the water war between Florida and Georgia. While the two examples do directly relate, the oysters feel a little shoehorned in. Many of Glennon's other anecdotes have a similar feeling. In combination with the concise chapters, the book seems a bit hyperactive in how it jumps between topics.

However, I really like the anecdotal style of writing. The strengths of this technique are that the book is very enjoyable to read (even if the topic is frightening), and by the end of the book a sense of completeness settles in. I feel as if I've seen all the most notable examples of the effects of groundwater pumping. In fact, it almost feels as if I've been on a roadtrip across the United States with Glennon. This is no doubt due to the familiar tone the author uses. He even inserts a lot of humor, because as he writes at the end of the introduction, "Writing about water use, policy, management, and law demands both a sense of irony and a sense of humor." Even though his jokes largely fell flat to me, they did an incredible job of making me warm up to the author. That's really the strength of this book's emotional impact: the reader identifies with the grassroots organizations fighting the exploitation of America's water resources and disparages the short-sightedness of the people that exploit it.

Read this book if you are at all interested in fresh water bodies in the United States. It doesn't matter if you are into conservationism, or if you're interested in fishing, boating, bird watching, or perhaps you merely appreciate their aesthetic value. Water is vital life, but we don't treat it as such.
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Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping And The Fate Of America's Fresh Waters
Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping And The Fate Of America's Fresh Waters by Robert Jerome Glennon (Paperback - January 14, 2004)
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