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Laura Allen & July Cole & Cleo Woelfle-Erskine - Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground
Water is the thing that allows life to flourish on a planet. It appears to be quite a rare thing in the universe. If we're to keep biodiversity on this gem of a planet it behooves us to learn conservative uses of water. Dam Nation contains the big picture as well as the details of what we do with the water we use during the day. There are greywater instructions; there's documentation of diluted urine vastly boosting corn yields in Mexico; and there's how to catch the precious rain that falls. The book is a compilation so there's not alot on any one particular aspect of water use, but the variety of articles is quite good and shows the vastness of the topic.

There are 22 articles on the worldwide theories, practices, and politics of water use. It is divided into 3 sections. The first is on the ecological consequences of damming wild rivers. The second and largest section contains the practical information and even includes instructions for building washing machines powered by modified bicycles or exercycles. The last section covers wetlands and watersheds and what's being done to them. The first and third sections will not leave you smiling, but the middle section contains hope and how-to. Basically fresh is not trash and shouldn't be treated as trash. Before piped water, people used 3 to 5 gallons of water a day; after piped water the use increased ten-fold.

Greywater is a time-honored way to conserve and reuse fresh water. It is the reuse of certain water for certain plants.It enriches the life on your property and, especially on municipal levels, greatly helps life on the planet (including our own). If you think you have no reason (or way) to catch or reuse water, read Dam Nation. It provides abundant motivation as well as practical how-to information. It's a courageous book and hopefully it will inspire you to act courageously about water use. The book also provides eye-opening examples of legislative actions and government policies, in the US and around the world, that use and re-use water wisely.

Soft Skull Press, (718) 642-1599, softskull.com, Brooklyn, NY, 2007, 1-932360-80-8, black & white photographs and drawings, paperback, $19.95
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