22 Apr 2016

Introduction to Water in California -- the review

I bought the first edition of this book (2004) while I was living and working in California, so I was glad to receive a review copy of the revised Second Edition (2015) <== fixed the link!

This book, as the title promises, provides an excellent introduction to water in California. It begins with a overview of the water cycle, explains California's hydrologic regions in detail, and then moves into the engineered distribution system that has aided California's growth but disturbed its ecosystems.* Readers are now set for the chapter on "challenges" of draining aquifers, water pollution,  "dewatered" rivers, paved wetlands, and so on. The final chapter reviews current (and ever-popular) "solutions" to these challenges, i.e., dams, Twin Tunnels, desalination, conservation, and so on.

Anyone reading this book will have an excellent idea of how things were, how they are, why current conditions are unsustainable, and how difficult it is to change current conditions. I applaud Carle for his thorough, mostly reasonable review of the topics, but I feel like he spent too little time on the perverse incentives and potential economic solutions that might improve matters. This oversight is perhaps expected when a biologist rather than an economist is writing, so let me just suggest that readers turn to my (shorter, free) Living with Water Scarcity after reaching the end of Carle's excellent Introduction.

Bottom Line: You cannot hope to fix a "broken" system without some basic understanding of its history, function and opportunities for change. I give Carle's book FIVE STARS for providing that information.

* Happy Earth Day! Do you know how much benefit the Earth gives you, as an individual? About $20,000/year [pdf]

Addendum: Carle's Water and the California Dream is ALSO out in a revised, second edition (my review of the first edition).