Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment

Whether it’s an activist who lives to stop dams in her country (and is desperate to drown for her cause), an anthropologist who spends his life looking for one good dam that doesn’t destroy the communities it touches, or an engineer who struggles to keep the habitable parts of Australia from drying up or being utterly poisoned with salt, author Jacques Leslie puts a human face on grand dams, the most massive of human projects. Deep Water tells the stories of both winners and losers when rivers are dammed, and argues that losses are always seriously underestimated. Appropriately, the book ends with an essay on how dams end—they silt up, are intentionally breached in attempts to undo unwanted side effects (think Hetch Hetchy), or they fail. Yet the urge to build them (think the Auburn dam) goes on.