Where the Water Goes Book Summary - Where the Water Goes Book explained in key points

Where the Water Goes summary

David Owen

Brief summary

Where the Water Goes by David Owen takes the reader on a journey to understand the complex water systems in the Western United States and the interconnectedness of cities, agriculture, and the environment.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    Where the Water Goes
    Summary of key ideas

    The Beginning: The Colorado River

    In Where the Water Goes, David Owen takes us on a fascinating journey along the Colorado River. The river, he explains, is a lifeline across the southwestern United States, traversing through seven states and two countries. The Colorado is responsible for supplying water to over 40 million people and irrigating approximately 5.5 million acres of land.

    Notably, the river demonstrates how human intervention has altered the natural course of this once wild waterway to cater to urban, agricultural, and environmental needs. Owen highlights the Hoover Dam, one of the most dramatic illustrations of our manipulation of the Colorado, turning a section of the river into a massive reservoir named Lake Mead.

    The Middle: Water Politics and Distribution

    As we continue downstream, Owen uncovers the complex system governing the distribution of the Colorado River's water. He details the historic Colorado River Compact of 1922: an agreement among seven states that apportioned the river's flow based on unfounded and overly optimistic estimates. With the realization that the river cannot support everyone's needs, conflicts between states, between urban and agricultural users, and between humans and the environment have become increasingly rife.

    The author also discusses the significant environmental impacts of our utilization of the river’s resources. Once a mighty watercourse, the Colorado River today rarely reaches the sea, with its final stretches becoming bone-dry. The river's delta, once a lush wetland, is now a desolate desert, and Lake Mead's water level steadily drops due to over-usage and climate change impacts.

    The End: The Future of Colorado River

    Approaching the concluding part of Where the Water Goes, Owen offers insightful perspectives on the future of the Colorado River. He suggests that the solution doesn’t lie in finding new sources of water, but in managing the demand. He urges for mindful water conservation, more effective agriculture irrigation methods, and sensible urban water management policies.

    Owen also stresses the importance of understanding the inherent value of rivers beyond their utilitarian functions. Rivers are ecological treasures that support diverse species of wildlife and contribute to the health of our planet. He underscores the need for us to respect the limits of our rivers and to strive to use their waters in a sustainable way.

    Concluding Thoughts

    In the final analysis, Where the Water Goes is more than just a journey along a river. It serves as a stark reminder of our complicated relationship with water and the consequences of treating this precious resource as an unlimited commodity. Owen leaves us with valuable insights into understanding and addressing the critical water challenges of our time.

    We are provoked to reconsider our water uses, policies, and practices. Even the choices we make daily—what food we eat, what products we buy, the energy we consume all involve water in some way. The narrative of the Colorado River urges us to be mindful of these choices, and in doing so, keep the river's story flowing.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Where the Water Goes about?

    Where the Water Goes explores the complex and often controversial world of water management in the western United States. David Owen takes readers on a journey along the Colorado River, examining the various uses and challenges surrounding this vital resource. From agriculture to urban development, he delves into the history and future of water in a region facing increasing scarcity and competition. This thought-provoking book sheds light on the importance of responsible water usage and the need for sustainable solutions.

    Where the Water Goes Review

    Where the Water Goes (2017) delves into the complex world of water management and explores the vital role this resource plays in our lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its meticulous research and insightful analysis, it offers a comprehensive understanding of the water crisis and its impact on society.
    • The book uncovers surprising facts about water usage and highlights the interconnectivity between water sources, ecosystems, and human activities.
    • Through compelling narratives and vivid storytelling, it brings to life the individuals and communities affected by water scarcity, making the topic engaging and relatable.

    Who should read Where the Water Goes?

    • Anyone curious about the complex and controversial topic of water usage and management
    • People seeking a deeper understanding of the environmental impact of human activities related to water
    • Readers interested in exploring the connections between water, politics, economics, and society

    About the Author

    David Owen is a journalist and author who has written extensively on environmental and water issues. In his book "Where the Water Goes," Owen explores the complex and often contentious world of water management in the western United States. Through engaging storytelling and in-depth research, he delves into the history, politics, and economics of water usage, shedding light on the challenges and conflicts surrounding this vital resource. Owen's other notable works include "The Conundrum" and "The Green Metropolis."

    Categories with Where the Water Goes

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Where the Water Goes FAQs 

    What is the main message of Where the Water Goes?

    The main message of Where the Water Goes is that water management is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences.

    How long does it take to read Where the Water Goes?

    It takes several hours to read Where the Water Goes. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Where the Water Goes a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Where the Water Goes is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on an important and often overlooked topic. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Where the Water Goes?

    David Owen is the author of Where the Water Goes.

    What to read after Where the Water Goes?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Where the Water Goes, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
    • Incognito by David Eagleman
    • God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
    • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
    • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
    • Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal
    • The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
    • Simply Complexity by Neil F. Johnson
    • Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    • Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku