Radio Readers 2017 Spring Read - Water and Replenishment

Jan 26, 2017

“Civilization has been a permanent dialogue between human beings and water.” – Paolo Lugari (Colombia)

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” – W.H. Auden

“Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, From Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939

Milagro Beanfield War (John Nichols)

The main character of Milagro Beanfield War sometimes wonders how he became a hero.  He’s known as somewhat of a hustler who’s often in trouble.  In fact, it was his tapping into the main channel of an irrigation ditch to water his meager beanfield that became the symbol and inspiration for his community of small farmers and sheepmen to rally and fight for lost rights, for lost lands.  John Nichols’ book features Anglo water barons and power brokers intent on destroying the “little man’s” symbol in a sometimes humorous, always sarcastic novel that has been described as a milagro itself.  Whether water is seen as sustenance or essential to growth or as a tool of land-development, Milagro Beanfield War provokes interesting questions about the uses and rights of life-giving resources where water is scarce.

Ogallala Blue – Water & Life on the Great Plains (William Ainsworth)  Ogallala Blue – Water and Life on the Great Plains interweaves thoughtful interviews with science and research in a way that addresses the concerns everyday people living and working over the Ogallala Aquifer to the complex questions of sustainability.  It’s almost a conversation about water in itself. The Radio Readers Book Club selected the work, written in 2006 by William Ainsworth, to spark reflection on how quickly things have changed in just over a decade.  According to a January 23, 2017, Hutchinson News story, some predict depletion of the Ogallala by 2064 at which time 40% of the regions now being irrigated wouldn’t be able to support the 400-gallon-per minute needed to pump water to a corn crop. Moreover, within 50 years, experts predict that 40% of the state’s reservoir storage space will be filled with sediment if nothing is done to stop it. (from “Measurements key to water decisions by Amy Bickel, The Hutchinson News. 01/23/17.)

Dune (Frank Herbert)

Moving the discussion to the future, Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune rounds out the 2017 Spring Read Water and Replenishment.  Once called the “first planetary ecology novel,” Dune depicts the struggles of life on Arrakis where giant sandworms for whom water is deadly, tiny mouse-like forms adapted to live with limited water and Fremen must navigate an ecosystem that forces them to sacrifice desires born on a water-laden planet in order to survive.  Whether you are a fan of science fiction and or the Dune trilogy, the work forces readers to consider the ways in which life must necessarily as water resources diminish.