THE WATER WE LIVE BY: How to Manage It Wisely by D. L. Heindl

THE WATER WE LIVE BY: How to Manage It Wisely

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mr. Heindl is a professional in a position -- executive secretary of the U.S. National Committee for the International Hydrological Decade -- to know water-management problems intimately and broadly, and one is impressed when he observes e.g. that ""To grow a crop that usually is in surplus supply, local forces joined with government agencies to build one canal about 50 miles long to bring more water than was necessary into the district, to drill seventy wells to pump the resulting excess water out of the ground, and then to build two equally long canals to carry the salty water away."" Thus illustrated directly or indirectly are the futility of irrigating the desert and the twin dangers of land subsidence and the build-up of salts in the soil. To reach these insights, however, the reader must endure a great deal of editorializing and surmount the unsystematic presentation of basic information: the problem of subsidence, for instance, from withdrawal of ground water is first mentioned in the captions of pictures on pp. 31, 32 and 35, alluded to on p. 41, but not explained -- not even identified per se -- until p. 50. Whole chapters are grab bags of descriptions and data, issues and dilemmas that are not placed in relationship either horizontally or vertically. Though few of the problems raised are pursued as such, the case-study format of the second half is more fruitful: in examining the very different aspects of drought in the New York area 1961-66 and in southern Florida, the coordinated approach to pollution and adequate provision in the Ohio River and Potomac basins, and the ""Case for International Management"" of the Great Lakes, integration of information -- as on the diverse sources of pollution including erosion and acid mine drainage -- is appropriate and beneficial. However, the techniques of prospective solutions such as reusing water are scanted throughout. Recent escalation of the problems of water management has tended to date the spate of books which appeared between 1963 and 1966; with its flaws, this has the advantage also of expertise.

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1971
Publisher: Coward-McCann