The Ripple Effect by Alex Prud'homme


Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. W.H. Auden

Think you're an accountable, ecological, and responsible water user? We excrete Viagra, synthetic estrogen, and other prescription drugs -- as well as illicit substances -- whenever we use the toilet. We poison fish every time we wash with antibacterial soap. Some stinkers are even flushing chemicals and leftover pills away.

That being said, Milwaukee's treated drinking water quality currently meets or exceeds all EPA and DNR standards. So why should you care? In The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century Prud'homme says, America's water consumption doubles every 20 years, but our supply stays the same. The EPA is too underfunded to effectively monitor water quality, several U.S. cities are dangerously close to running out, and regulations aren't keeping up with new types of pollutants in the water. Add global warming, a population boom, and pollution and before you know it, the hydrocarbon era is over. Water is the new oil! You don't need to be psychic to assume that the nastiest international skirmishes in the next 50 years will probably involve water conflicts.

As Alex Prud'homme and his great-aunt Julia Child were completing their collaboration on her memoir, My Life in France, they began to talk about the French obsession with bottled water which was gaining a toe-hold in America. Curiosity piqued, Prud'homme began ambitious research about water in America.

Prud'homme believes that our water issues are so dire he wants a federally coordinated water czar. He's calling for a national dialogue focusing on water infrastructure issues, and The Replacement Era isn't going to be cheap: the EPA estimated that between 2007 and 2027, drinking water utilities will have to invest $334 billion on new infrastructure. The prognosis for a balanced response to these myriad challenges is not rosy. The problem is exacerbated by the timing of it all: you might have heard about some budget-cutting talk at the local, state and federal level...

The person you love is 90% water and so are you. Considering the efficacy of most of these long-overdue propositions could allow us all to avoid dripping into oblivion.

Submitted by Jane, East Library

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This page contains a single entry by Jacki published on August 25, 2011 9:00 AM.

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