09.02.11Alan Harris

10 Reasons Why I Loved, and You Should Read: “The Big Thirst”

The Big Thirst by Charles FishmanGreatest Water Book Ever Written (okay maybe not the best, but very, very good)

“The Big Thirst” by Charles Fishman

1. References – on my Kindle the sources sited take up 40% of the book. In the print edition the references are in much smaller print so they take up less space, but they are still there. Unbelievably Fishman also makes them available on line.

2. Worldly Perspective – Fishman takes the reader on a journey around the world, into the galaxy and into the center of the earth.

3. Down to Earth – you do not need to be a scientist to appreciate the book, but if you are a scientist or water enthusiast, please refer to reason #1

4. Timely – since it was just released in 2011, most of the content is relative and current. What has changed since the book was written in 2010 just demonstrates how little we understand and can predict climate change.

5. Politics – sometimes as in the case of Atlanta it is not so much about the amount of rainfall in an area, but how the water is stored and distributed to the consumer.

6. History – those who fail to plan; plan to fail. When the English Empire controlled India a functional water distribution system existed. Since India’s independence, very little has been invested into the public water distribution system resulting in unreliable service and undrinkable water.

7. Cost – the “cost” of water is for the power and distribution system, which is why Atlanta residents pay more for water than Phoenix residents. After all Water is Free.

8. Water Sacristy is NOT a Global Problem – water issues are strictly limited to the watershed of the region. While this may cross county and state lines, what happens in Vegas does not impact the drought in Texas.

9. Las Vegas Rocks – while the Hoover Dam may have created Unintended Consequences, the amount of innovation generated as a result of necessity and creative planning in the last 20 years is amazing.

10. Blog Fodder – if you clicked on any of the above links you know the book has provided a substantial amount of content for my writing. My opinions on water were formed before I read the book, but the information and links saved a ton of time and research.

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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine and speaker at WaterSmart Innovations Conference.




  1. Friday, 12:29 Martha Golea

    I have this book on my kitchen table right now but I’ve only skimmed a couple pages so far. I re-read all of your links here, so it’ll be interesting to see how they were inspired, as I read the book!

  2. Friday, 3:17 Alan Harris

    @ Martha – glad to hear the book is ON the table and not propping up the kitchen table! As you read the book keep in mind several of my posts were drafted BEFORE the book was released. I had to go back into the drafts to add some of the links I found in the book. One of the truly fascinating phenomenons is Australia. In the book they are in a 10+ year horrendous drought. However the last spring and this spring (Sept – Dec) were or are predicted to be very wet years. Reminds you that climate change is continuous.

  3. […] conversation I had was with Charles Fishman over coffee one morning.  Charles is the author of “The Big Thirst” who, a few weeks ago was the luncheon speaker at the UN for the International Water Forum.  I […]

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