Water: A Natural History: Alice Outwater

An environmental engineer turned ecology writer relates the history of our waterways and her own growing understanding of what needs to be done to save this essential natural resource.

Water: A Natural History takes us back to the diaries of the first Western explorers; it moves from the reservoir to the modern toilet, from the grasslands of the Midwest to the Everglades of Florida, through the guts of a wastewater treatment plant and out to the waterways again. It shows how human-engineered dams, canals and farms replaced nature’s beaver dams, prairie dog tunnels, and buffalo wallows. Step by step, Outwater makes clear what should have always been obvious: while engineering can de-pollute water, only ecologically interacting systems can create healthy waterways.

Important reading for students of environmental studies, the heart of this history is a vision of our land and waterways as they once were, and a plan that can restore them to their former glory: a land of living streams, public lands with hundreds of millions of beaver-built wetlands, prairie dog towns that increase the amount of rainfall that percolates to the groundwater, and forests that feed their fallen trees to the sea.

About the Author

Alice Outwater is an environmental engineer, a consultant in sludge management, and the coauthor, with Larry Gonick, of The Cartoon Guide to Environmental Science.

Alice Outwater has been writing about water and the environment for twenty-five years. She grew up on Lake Champlain, in Vermont, and studied engineering at the University of Vermont. She went to grad school at MIT to learn about water, where she won the prize for Best Thesis in Technology and Policy.
​Outwater managed sludge for the Boston Harbor Clean-Up, and wrote The Reuse of Sludge and Minor Wastewater Residuals. She wrote the much translated Cartoon Guide to the Environment with Larry Gonick. Water: A Natural History was a Library Journal Science Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/New England award. She consults in water quality, and has lived on a farm since 1991 in Vermont, Hawaii and finally Colorado.

  • Publisher : Basic Books; Reprint edition (September 27, 1997)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 224 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0465037801
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0465037803
  • Lexile measure : 1360L
  • Item Weight : 8.2 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches

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