As Sedlak says himself, modern urban water systems are unobtrusive by design. We rarely see them or think about them, as long as they are functioning correctly. Sedlak suggests that the infrastructure of the system that brings water to our homes is in great need of an upgrade. This book explains how civilisation has developed a water system over the past three thousand years or so, beginning with the Romans’ Water 1.0 as he calls it, through Europe’s developments in treating sewage and dealing with disease (Water 2.0), up to our current system of Water 3.0.
I never thought I would find myself typing this sentence but he says some very interesting things about chlorine. And he says some rather disturbing things about storm drains. The book is quite dry, but this Berkeley professor manages to explain everything in simple enough terms for a non-sciencey person such as myself to follow.
We are reading this for the Las Vegas Non-Fiction Book Club because water is a subject of discussion in this city possibly more than many other cities in the developed world. We live in the desert. We do not have a great deal of water here, but there is still a surprising amount of lawns here. Sedlak talks about Vegas a little, and explains how lawns might be sustained here in the future. He tells us of historical instances where the chemicals that us pesky humans release into the water can affect all the other species on the planet. He does not speculate too much on what might yet to be discovered, but I suppose one could write an entirely separate book on just that.
Sedlak suggests several credible and thought-provoking options for future water systems, but basically concludes that each community will probably come to various different conclusions depending on it’s natural resources and cityscape.