The Sound of Thirst: Why Urban Water for All is Essential, Achievable and Affordable

David Owen, Author
David Lloyd Owen. Parthian (IPG, dist.), $31 (456p) ISBN 978-1-908069-91-7
Reviewed on: 03/18/2013
Release date: 09/01/2012
Owen, a water consultant in west Wales, examines urban water and wastewater systems, addressing the "pressing need for people to understand the challenges water management faces in the coming decades and to appreciate that they can be successfully and affordably overcome." Unfortunately, the discussion and prose are dry, with limited appeal to general audiences, and Owen relies heavily on charts and statistics throughout heavily annotated chapters. Furthermore, sections on sewerage and sewage treatment—including talk of industrial effluent, lavatory waste, sludge, and suspended solids—though necessary, are likely to repel squeamish readers. On the other hand, Owen manages to make several salient points in this complex debate. Why, for instance, are mobile phones prevalent "while access to safe water and sanitation, which ought to be universal, remains a luxury in developing countries" such as India? What might happen instead if utilities there were privatized? Owen's look at bottled water, "the paradoxical premium," is also intriguing. Why do we rely on it, and support a bloated industry, when tap water generally should be fine to drink? Though the material may be wonky, it's increasingly relevant and will prove interesting for readers willing to take the plunge. (Mar.)