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Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It

Buy this book at: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Island Press • Powell’s


by Robert Glennon

© 2009 Robert Glennon
All rights reserved


Deep in the Mojave Desert sits Las Vegas.  In Sin City, a torrent of water flows freely in massive fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and casinos.  Meanwhile, across the country in places that are not particularly dry or hot, communities, farmers, and factories are struggling to find water, and even running out altogether.  America’s self-inflicted water crisis is spreading, and more quickly than you might think.

In a book that is both frightening and wickedly funny, acclaimed author Robert Glennon captures the tragedy–and irony–of water in America.  From the Vegas Strip to faux snow in Atlanta, from our supersized bathrooms to mega-farms, from billion-dollar water deals to big time politics and personalities, Unquenchable tells the shocking stories of extravagances and waste that are sucking the nation dry.

Our water woes will only grow with new demands for this forgotten resource.  Take Washington’s love affair with biofuels: it will turn to heartbreak once America realizes that thousands of gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of fuel.

Glennon argues that we cannot engineer our way out of the problem with the usual fixes or the zany, but very real, schemes to tow icebergs from Alaska or divert the Mississippi River to Nevada.  America must make hard choices–and Glennon’s answer is a provocative market-based system that values water as a commodity and a fundamental human right.


“Robert Glennon connects the dots between our water woes and climate change, energy, growth, the environment, and agriculture.  He makes a compelling case that we need to rethink how we use this prized resource and provides a number of thought-provoking solutions.”
U.S. Senator Mark Udall, Colorado

“The wells of the American dream stand a good chance of running dry; and to read Glennon’s necessary book is to know that without water there will be no wine, no roses, nothing over Dorothy’s rainbow except a pillar of salt.”
Lewis H. Lapham, editor, Lapham’s Quarterly

“Robert Glennon is a leading edge legal scholar and passionate water advocate whose thinking is central to an intense debate on the path forward to a water-secure world.  I heartily recommend his provocative, information-packed, and highly readable new book Unquenchable.”
Maude Barlow, senior advisor on water to the president
of the UN General Assembly

Unquenchable is a worthy successor to Cadillac Desert that ably demonstrates how our most valuable resource is being squandered, ignored, and flushed away.  Although it reminds us that water is indeed finite, Unquenchable clearly shows us the solutions to the greatest threat of the 21st century are limited only by politics and greed.”
Terry Tamminen, Cullman Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
and former secretary, California EPA