I don’t drink enough water. My doctor, wife, friends, and colleagues have all told me this. I protest that I drink gallons of coffee, and you need water for coffee, right? This doesn’t, well, hold water, they say. Just the other day, my colleague Pam Fogg walked into my office and picked up the sleek Klean Kanteen water bottle on my desk. She shook her head and said, “There’s dust on the top.” We could hear a little bit of water sloshing around inside, and I sheepishly admitted that that water was probably two years old. Vintage?
So, OK, I need to drink more water. But now that I’m on board with this whole water thing, I’m worried that there won’t always be fresh water to drink. That’s because I have just read The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century, an exhaustively reported and meticulously researched book by Alex Prud’homme ’84. In his characteristically vivid prose, Alex sounds an alarm about something many of us have taken for granted: access to clean, plentiful water. But Alex doesn’t just scare you, he also illuminates ideas about and solutions to many of the troublesome issues we face about the global water supply. It’s a critically important issue and an equally important book.
We excerpt a few passages from The Ripple Effect in our feature package on water, and, like Alex, we also bring you success stories—stories that involve Middlebury faculty, students, and alumni who have their own water tales, tales of discovery, redemption, mystery, and hope involving an element that defines all of us.