Cover Image: Replenish


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Member Reviews

Amid many warnings about climate change, terrible weather patterns, droughts and floods, the author blesses us with first-hand accounts of seeing rivers restored to natural conditions, wetlands created to soak excess water, organic matter added to soils to retain moisture. Just to read the descriptions of a revitalised river and the natural life stirring within days, followed by full-on shrubs, trees, fishes and birds, is a balm to a soul. 

I did find the telling a bit jerky as the author hops around from continent to continent within each chapter. What she has chosen to do is to focus each time on a process and how it has impacted or has been applied in many areas. So the impact of levees and building on floodplains is described in China and Europe as well as the Mississippi delta. Each nation has suffered from immense loss of life and damage when floods breached the levees, and the former floodplains, built upon, have done a poor job of returning water to the ground. 

Other areas examined are catastrophic weather and how the water cycle works; the struggling, abstracted Colorado River which benefited from an agreement to release enough water to let it meet the sea again; the sense of maintaining a healthy wooded watershed; aquifer storage and how to replenish what has been wastefully used; reducing wasteful water use; dams and removing dams; the Australian drought diminishing the Murray-Darling River; mob and move livestock grazing. The latter system is referred to more than once but I never saw a mention of the fact that grazing rotation, especially if two species are used like cattle and sheep or horses, will greatly reduce the number of internal parasites. 

I was very interested in the various private, municipal and company schemes which have been tried and studied - thanks for condensing all that reading into one manageable book. Lots of options especially removing dams have immediate natural benefits, while replenishing aquifers and planting trees to hold riverbanks in place take longer to show results. 
I enjoyed the photos - more would be better. I had a good mental image of places I had visited, such as the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Phoenix and Casa Grande, but not everyone will, especially non-Americans. The book is very readable with many science words, like eutrophication, which are well used in context and explained at once. Anyone studying hydrology, agri-science, geology, geography, nature and world geo-politics, as well as journalism and the rights of native communities, will be fascinated. 

Notes and references are on pages 281 - 296 of my e-ARC. I counted twelve names which I could be sure were female, but science reports are listed by surnames or bodies such as NOOA. 
I downloaded an ARC from Net Galley and the publishers. This is an unbiased review. 

As it happens I have just read 'Saving Tarboo Creek' by Scott Freeman in similar vein which I recommend. I also recommend:
'The Price of Thirst' by Karen Piper, who looks at the astonishing way that water, a human right, is bought, sold at profit and owned by companies and countries, often with no connection to where the water is based or consumed. 
'Walking Home From Mongolia' by Rob Lilwall includes China's relationship with water and geology. 
'Meltdown In Tibet' by Michael Buckley for China's diversion and pollution of water.
'The Rights Of Nature' by David R Boyd.
'Marine Ecosystem Based Management In Practice' by Julia Wondolleck.
'Mythical River' by Melissa Sevigny.
'Connecting The Drops' by Karen Schneller-McDonald.
'What has Nature Ever Done For Us?' by Tony Juniper.
'Deforestation: Social dynamics in watersheds and mountain ecosystems' by J. Ives.
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Ms. Postel is an excellent writer. Her passion for her work as an advocate of water as one of our most fundamental natural resources shows clearly in "Replenish." While recognizing the deep connection that we as humans have to water, over millennia of using and abusing that vital resource, Ms. Postel advocates for a renewed respect for the water cycle and all of the benefits that it brings to our lives. Natural resource economics is a subject more than a century in the making, and the valuation of ecological services is an especially young topic in aware societies. With the health of our natural water supply, so goes our own health as a species. Ms. Postel's work, for which "Replenish" provides an overarching natural philosophy, calls for a resurgence of respect for our necessary and vital freshwater resources and the natural ecologies of water-oriented systems.
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