In This Review

Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource
Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource
By Peter Rogers and Susan Leal
245 pp, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
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Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization
By Steven Solomon
596 pp, HarperCollins, 2010
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Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession With Bottled Water
Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession With Bottled Water
By Peter H. Gleick
211 pp, Island Press, 2010
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Although warnings that water crises, even water wars, are pending have a long history -- and a long history of being overblown -- there are increasing signs that the management of water resources worldwide is now reaching a tipping point. Many lakes and rivers are vanishing, and the quality of those that remain is deteriorating. Ground-water supplies are under pressure from overuse and pollution. Some fish populations are accumulating anthropogenic toxins; others threaten to disappear altogether (remember Atlantic cod?). Climate change may already be rearranging rainfall and glacial melting patterns, making life in arid areas increasingly untenable and intensifying floods in the already wet, and more populous, regions.

Water experts have long quipped that when the problem is not too much water, it is too little water, or water that is too dirty. Increasingly, however, the problem also seems to be that water is in the wrong hands. According to

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  • JAMES E. NICKUM is Secretary-General of the International Water Resources Association, a Professor at Tokyo Jogakkan College, and Editor in Chief of Water International.
  • More By James E. Nickum