The Dry Garden: In search of a ‘water ethic’ for America

Posted on | October 14, 2011 | No Comments

Most high-level arguments about how to conserve water in the garden take place without involving home gardeners. Rather, as water managers weigh what an imaginary average consumer would and would not do by way of conservation, we real-life consumers are alternately offered carrots in the form of ephemeral rebate programs and sticks in the form of emergency sprinkler ordinances. 

The new book, “Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis,”  knocks this tired see-saw off its axis. Author Cynthia Barnett argues that no conservation program will truly succeed unless embraced by the public as part of a universally adopted “water ethic.” After research took her across the US, to the Netherlands, Singapore and Australia, Barnett concluded that the only way that a water ethic can be reintroduced to places that have lost it is if a primal sense of the importance and beauty of water is restored. 

It’s unorthodox to review this book in a garden column, but it was equally unorthodox for Barnett to open “Blue Revolution” in a garden, standing on lawn, looking at a pool and artificial waterfall. Embarrassingly for a reviewer based in California, the phony Eden she captured was in Sacramento. While the capital of California is celebrated as green for its encouragement of public transport and strides in LEED-certified construction, its outdoor water use, Barnett observes, makes it “one of the most water-wasting places on the planet.”

Click here to keep reading this review of “Blue Revolution” in the Los Angeles Times.



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