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The Sound of Ideas

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

Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It Unquenchable author Robert Glennon says we have a growing water problem. The problem isn't the shortage we're facing. The real problem is how we think about water... or the fact that we don't. Whether we talk of the emptying of the reservoir that serves Atlanta or the combined sewers overflow in Akron, Glennon says we don't think enough about our water. Join Dan Moulthrop on Tuesday morning at 9 for a look at the state of our planet's one absolutely irreplaceable resource: water.

Photo Gallery

The St. Clair River, Michigan Niagara Falls, Ontario Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls Gibralter & Put-in-Bay Islands, Lake Erie Erie Shores Wind Farm, Port Burwell, Ontario




Robert Glennon, author, Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It & Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Arizona
Linda Abraham-Silver, President & Chief Executive Officer, Great Lakes Science Center

Additional Information

-Humans are about 60 percent water by weight—though the percentage is slightly higher on average for men than for women. To replenish our body’s water supply, a typical man needs about one gallon each day (3.7 liters), while a woman needs about 0.7 gallons (2.7 liters).

-Can you survive without drinking any water at all? Kangaroo rats have super-efficient kidneys that are so good at recycling water that they get all they need from just the food they eat.

-Texas horned lizard collects and stores drinking water in channels between the scales on its back.

-Albatrosses have evolved a way to drink seawater, which is too salty for most birds and land animals. To get rid of excess salt from the water and food they ingest, albatrosses have glands just behind their eye sockets that absorb salt. The glands then excrete a concentrated salt solution that drains out a duct and off the tip of the beak.

-No bigger than a speck, tiny eight-legged creatures called tardigrades live either in ocean or freshwater habitats. If drought strikes, they essentially shut down their metabolism and shrivel up into a ball called a tun, waiting until water returns. They can last for years in this state and can also withstand oxygen deprivation, vacuum, and extreme heat or cold.

Leave a Comment

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Tom 9:04 AM 11/24/09

Please discuss the possibility of desalinization of ocean water, how we can more efficiently use what we have and any major successes that have occured in this area.

Myles- Ohio City 9:20 AM 11/24/09

What about the desalination of brackish water for agricultural use? Can your guest comment on the use of treated water for growing vegetables?

Bob Shields 9:37 AM 11/24/09

With the passage and signing of GLRI a number of organizations, through the public forum of the Lake (Erie) Area Management Plan are working to organize monitoring of water quality of the Lake and its tributaries.  There are a number of people monitoring water quality in all three basins but there remain many parts of the lake that are not monitored, there is a lack of standardization and the reports are difficult to find.  The LAMP group hopes to address that. Thank you.

DP 9:39 AM 11/24/09

Last week I was in San Diego, which is suffering a multi-year drought and so has imposed strict limits on garden irrigation. On a walk in Balboa Park, the ranger told us that the San Diego area, with a population of over 3 million, only collects enough water from its watershed for 250,000 people. What are the future propsects for such populous places in the West?

Paul 2:21 AM 11/28/09

I don’t get it.  Why shouldn’t we be allowed to sell some of our water.  Why is it that other parts of the country can take advantage and profit from their natural resources (ie. coal in West Virginia) while we can’t?  And why shouldn’t we be helping other parts of the country?

Each region should take advantage of what they have available to them.  For example, I can see that the desert regions (eg. Arizona) would be excellent for collecting solar energy and distributing it to the rest of the country.  If we have an abundance of water, then we should share some of that water to the rest of the country, especially if other parts of the country need this resource.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t protect our waters (eg. from pollution) and make sure we are responsibly distributing our water (so we don’t deplete it too fast, or very negatively impact the environment).  Plus, if it becomes a business, then we might be even more inclined to protect it as it becomes a very visible economic resource.


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