The Great Lakes Water Wars!

Veteran journalist Peter Annin used the above sensational title for his 2006 book about the dubious future of what is approximately 18 per cent of the 400px-great_lakes_from_space.jpgworld’s freshwater. Yep. The Fab Fresh Five—Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario—constitute the largest freshwater system on the planet. (Poor little Lake St. Clair, though part of the system, is a good lake, but not a great lake.)

The Great part of the name doesn’t mean really good, it means really huge—big, wide, and deep. And you can bet that water-challenged regions like the Southwest constantly dwell on the unfairness of it all and continuously cook up wacky schemes to get their fair share of the water that is well over a thousand miles away, and you can bet that the 40,000,000 Americans and Canadians in the Great Lake’s region have and will continue to put up a fight for water which is theirs because it’s close by.

But war? Come on! Water war is a term too frequently whipped out these days to characterize the current and future heated disputes over diminishing fresh water resources, domestically and globally. While water rivalry may lead desperate drought-stricken countries into war*, it will most likely continue to lead bickering state and local governments into the courtroom. (Conceivably, water conflicts could escalate into a war with Canada—or more likely Mexico—in the dry and dire dystopia almost upon us.) In this article, Annin admits that he used the incendiary phrase to lure readers, probably knowing that The Great Lakes Water Disputes lacked a certain punch:

The title is trying to convince people to read a book that they otherwise might not read, and the water diversion issue in the Great Lakes basin is the spotted owl issue of this region – very polarizing, very bitter, and for the people who have their opinions about this issue, they are very strongly held.

It’s an important book, packed with fascinating and disturbing facts, but also an enjoyable and effortless read. (More about the Great Lakes to come.)

* The linked article is provided by ITT Industries, which is engineered for life and the world’s premier fluid technology company.’s hit? Behind every empty slogan and obfuscating euphemism for water management lurks an evil corporation that’s gonna take your lunch and your water. But here, being good corporate citizens, we’re sure, ITT provides a package of pages of in-depth and relatively current articles about the various facets of the global water predicament. Lots of valuable data in tables and graphs can be found on the .0005 pt. menu at the left.
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