Read: Replenish

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Pretty sure that Sandra Postel lives less than an hour from where I’m sitting right now. Makes me want to ask for an interview when I return in the fall. Her book Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity is a dagger, but not the kind that stabs you in the heart. Instead, her dagger is one of intelligence, crafty engineering, and hope. Water. Ya, that stuff that flows out when you turn on the tap. Turns out, there is a limited supply, but there are many ways to replenish the water cycle and Postel gives ample examples of smart people doing smart things with the viscous stuff.

Don’t think for a minute the morons of the world aren’t making their presence known. They are, but again, this is a book of positivity when it comes to the reality of water. Speaking of morons, I had a friend here in Santa Fe who when I would table the idea of limited water his response would go something like this. “Water?” “There is no fuc%$# shortage of fu&^&^% water, I take six showers a day so fu%$ the water people.” I would, of course, bring up water all the time hoping he would keel over at some point, but no luck so far.

There are MANY takeaways from this book.

First, I need to visit the recently restored wetlands on the Mexican side of the border south of Yuma. They sound incredible and my birding lens is heating up just thinking about it. And second, perhaps most importantly, if human stops screwing up nature, nature has a way of repairing itself. Low till agriculture, smart planting techniques, leaving rivers alone and we seriously need to stop paving over all the wetlands that are the single best water filtration system we have.

Do I have hope this will happen? Trick question, you know me. Of course not. But there are people like Postel who are fighting the good fight. If she was only a TikTok star then maybe we would have a chance. I’m all for tranquilizing the population, but my policies seem to be fringe at best. On a serious note, this is a book worth investigating. Living where I do, water is a main issue day in day out. I was forced to irrigate fields when I was young, so water and water use has been front and center in my life since I was a child. (Yes, it was child labor.) When I drive by Elephant Butte and see the ring, or when I drive north to fish my favorite stream only to find a trickle, the realities of water are impossible to avoid. Get it, read it, then give it to your kids.

Comments 4

  1. “Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner details the impact of state and federal policies on water shortages in the western US. Get it. Read it.

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  2. Owens Lake is a stunningly fucked up place, and great for photography in dawn light. It’s on topic, and I encourage the visit. Alabama Hills is great for overnight van camping, and I heard that they made it paid use now, so that may mean it has a toilet, and far fewer signs of late night parties. Lone Pine is a vibe… I like it. Also Manzanar, just north, the remains of the Japanese WWII internment camp. There’s not much left, but a few things when caught in the right light.

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      Yep, know the areas fairly well. I don’t go to CA much anymore unless I have to. Just too many people, too expensive. The west is shrinking fast, so it’s becoming more and more difficult to find peace. And, they are now allowing private land owners to fence off public land.

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