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August 08, 2010

Dam Nation: Dispatches From the Water Underground

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(Summer re-run: first published 5 February 2008)

Ever since learning about water mapping from Georg Bertsch and about watershed-based planning in Toronto from Chris Hardwick at Doors 9 on Juice last year, I've been aware that we talked a lot about energy but not enough about water.

This prompted me in a fit of guilt to buy a bunch of books about greywater harvesting; these now sit in a dispiriting and unread pile next to my bath.

Then, bingo: I found this wonderful book called Dam Nation: Dispatches From the Water Underground which I commend to you all.

Its essays, drawings, and photographs span a wondrous range of topics: off-grid water concepts; the politics of dams and water infrastructure; watersheds as a way of understanding and living in the world.

The essays explain the often destructive relationship between human settlements and nature, but these gloomy reflections are more than counter-balanced by stories about successful resistance to dams - including advanced plans to dismantle some of them - and practical ideas on how to restore wastersheds.

Dam Nation's editors are a reassuringly edgy and non-wet group of activists, tattooists and 'dishwasher deviants'. They've done a great job: the collection is extremely well-written. Buy two copies now: one for you, and one for an architect or urban planner who also needs to read it.

Posted by John Thackara at August 8, 2010 02:55 PM

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