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Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water

502 pages34 hours


Shortlisted, Donner Prize and Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award

Droughts, floods, and contamination of fresh water in the American Southwest, in the Great Lakes region, in Australia, in northern China, in the Middle East, and in India have brought the critical issue of water supply to the forefront of public consciousness. In dozens of countries, ordinary citizens have cause to worry about what (or how much) will come out of their taps — if they even have taps — and who will make sure it is available, affordable, and safe.

In this refreshing examination of the fate and future of water, Marq de Villiers takes on some of the biggest questions and shibboleths of the century. Who owns water? Is access to water a human right? Who is responsible for keeping water clean and ensuring it gets to the people who need it most? Is privatization of ownership and supply networks an evil or an extension of the public trust?

Fifteen years after the publication of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource, his influential Governor General's Award-winning book on the water crisis, de Villiers returns with a clear-eyed assessment of the politics of water — from the personal and commercial uses of water to the impact of climate change and global conflicts. Examining how political ideologies often obscure the underlying issues, de Villiers makes the controversial suggestion that there is no global water crisis, but that water problems are fundamentally local and regional and can most effectively be addressed through local, rather than global, action.

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