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

Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. This worthy but difficult book looks at large dams Buy Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment: Read 8 Books Reviews -
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Still, Thayer Scudder, who has served as a consultant on big dam projects for decades, remains convinced of their utility and believes it possible to work both with those supporting the projects and with NGOs that oppose them in order to arrive at a good dam with benefits to all.

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In this discussion, Leslie raises the issue that dams must be inherently political, but does not address it head-on. Yet his discussion of South African projects should leave no doubt that decisions to build them are both deeply political and technical. For what is a dam? It is newly built roads and an airstrip, quarries, a power station and power lines, demand located far from supply, bulldozers and police to remove the poor so that construction can proceed, resettlement carried out poorly with families and communities split up and moved to infertile land.

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  • And while a dam is all about water, paradoxically many resettlement communities have no piped water five years later. In the last section of Deep Water , Leslie discusses the efforts of Donald Blackmore to use a bureaucracy to solve conflicts over water use among locals, farmers, fisheries, and power producers through integrated catch-basin management on the River Murray basin.


    Blackmore has had many successes, even though the basin has suffered through years of deforestation, sheep grazing, increasing salinity of soils, and displacement of Aborigines. Much of Leslie's information is anecdotal and in many places his book resembles "stream of reporting" rather than systematic analysis, because he refuses to draw conclusions from the rich stories he has gathered. Even so, Deep Water has nuggets of important information for those interested in the history of big water projects in the late twentieth century.

    The book has no index, bibliography, or footnotes, but there are a few maps to help place the reader.


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    Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. The outer ring, he writes, is a moat filled with DDT. Inside lies another moat brimming with burning gasoline, and still deeper are masses of bulldozers and chainsaws.

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

    This neat bit of fancy hit bookstore shelves in , when big dams were still ascendant; at their global peak, in the early s, nearly a thousand went up every year. In the decades since, dam fever has abated, thanks in part to widespread public opposition. Yet in some places, especially developing countries with large ambitions, big dams are far from forgotten , and they remain a mortal matter.

    In his new book, Deep Water: His route into this broad and complex topic is a wonky one, but it works.

    The result is a trio of lengthy profiles, packed with lovely details and useful insights. Patkar and the other members of her group, Narmada Bachao Andolan, have an ascetic sensibility and an intense sense of purpose; hell on earth is straight ahead, and these activists have nothing to lose.

    Jacques Leslie’s Deep Water sheds light on dam dramas | Grist

    Years of Andolan hunger strikes and other protests eventually forced the World Bank out of the Narmada project, an iconic victory for the Andolan campaign and others like it. In the face of the gravity of his subject, Leslie is an appealingly modest guide. He confesses to embarrassment about drinking bottled water in front of Patkar, and to his own culture shock as an American in India.

    But he remains at a slight distance from his subject, and from that distance he gains clarity:

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