• Where the Water Goes

  • Life and Death Along the Colorado River
  • By: David Owen
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 9 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (408 ratings)

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Where the Water Goes  By  cover art

Where the Water Goes

By: David Owen
Narrated by: Fred Sanders
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Publisher's summary

An eye-opening account of where our water comes from and where it all goes.

The Colorado River is an essential resource for a surprisingly large part of the United States, and every gallon that flows down it is owned or claimed by someone. David Owen traces all that water from the Colorado’s headwaters to its parched terminus, once a verdant wetland but now a million-acre desert. He takes listeners on an adventure downriver, along a labyrinth of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, farms, fracking sites, ghost towns, and RV parks, to the spot near the US-Mexico border where the river runs dry.

Water problems in the Western United States can seem tantalizingly easy to solve: Just turn off the fountains at the Bellagio, stop selling hay to China, ban golf, cut down the almond trees, and kill all the lawyers. But a closer look reveals a vast man-made ecosystem that is far more complex and more interesting than the headlines let on.

The story Owen tells in Where the Water Goes is crucial to our future: How a patchwork of engineering marvels, byzantine legal agreements, aging infrastructure, and neighborly cooperation enables life to flourish in the desert - and the disastrous consequences we face when any part of this tenuous system fails.

©2017 David Owen (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“Owen has the keen observation of a birder combined with the breezy writing to draw you in with unusual insights.... As Owen shows, the Colorado River is a great, sad, terrifying, possibly hopeful example of the pervasive, permanent mark people are making on the planet.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Wonderfully written...Mr. Owen writes about water, but in these polarized times the lessons he shares spill into other arenas. The world of water rights and wrongs along the Colorado River offers hope for other problems.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Owen is effortlessly engaging, informally parceling out information about acre-foot allotments alongside sketches of notable, often dreadful figures in the river's history... Where the Water Goes doesn't pretend to solve the problems Owen acknowledges are overwhelming and, in some ways, impossible. It's a restless travelogue of long-term human impact on the natural world, and how politics and economics have as much to do with redirecting rivers as any canal. But with its historical eddies, policy asides, and trips to the Hoover Dam, at heart Where the Water Goes is about water as a function of time, and a reminder that we're running out of both.” (NPR.org)

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