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Sandra Postel directs the independent Global Water Policy Project and lectures, writes, and consults on international water issues. She is also Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, and serves as lead water expert for the Society's freshwater initiative. Sandra is the author of several acclaimed books, including the award-winning Last Oasis, the basis for a PBS documentary. Her essay "Troubled Waters" was selected for Best American Science and Nature Writing. Sandra is a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment, and has been named one of the "Scientific American 50" for her contributions to water policy.

Preparing for Floods, Droughts and Water Shortages by Working with, Rather than Against, Nature

Decades ago, Albert Einstein reminded us of a fundamental lesson that’s hard to learn: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Fortunately, just when it’s crucially needed, a new mind-set about water is taking shape. It’s one that blends engineering, ecology, economics, and related fields into a more holistic approach that recognizes the fundamental value of nature’s services.

Why the US Clean Water Rule Needs to Stay in Place

We have many lessons to learn from the tragedies wrought by Hurricane Harvey, but among the most important is that a broken water cycle increases risks to our communities and economies. Floodplains, tributaries, wetlands, lakes, ponds, rivers and groundwater form an interconnected whole that helps ensure clean, safe, reliable water supplies.  A well-functioning water cycle…

California Dairies Join Forces with Conservationists and an Irrigation Supplier to Save Water and Reduce Groundwater Pollution

For most of us, dairy products like milk, butter, cheese, and yogurt are an integral part of our daily diets. In fact, US residents consume on average more than 600 pounds of dairy products (expressed on a milk-equivalent basis) per year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Some 9 million dairy cows meet that…

Why Kill a Program that Saves Water, Energy, and Money – and that Business Likes?

This week the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois, sent a letter to US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that makes an unassailable case for continuing a program called WaterSense. As most of us know, Mr. Pruitt is on a quest to reduce the regulation of air, land, and water,…

Farmers, Brewers, and Conservationists Partner to Keep a River Flowing

  By Sandra Postel and Todd Reeve The fact that a pint of beer requires a whopping 37 gallons (140 liters) of water to produce can turn a favorite beverage into a guilty pleasure. But what if, instead, each hoppy sip helped add flow to a depleted river? If all goes according to plan that…

Native Americans and Conservationists Collaborate to Return Vital Flow to the Rio Grande

The first time I saw the channel of the Rio Grande completely dry, I was stunned. Here was the second largest river in the Southwest, which flows through three U.S. states and Mexico, and instead of water between its banks there were tire tracks. And I wasn’t standing at the tail end of the river,…

How Smarter Irrigation Might Save Rare Mussels and Ease a Water War

Casey Cox, who hails from a family with five generations of farming history along the Flint River in the southeastern U.S. state of Georgia, never expected to come back home. She’d graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville with a natural resources degree. A big thinker, Cox could have taken her desire to make…

Two Arizona Vineyards Give Back to a River through a Voluntary Water Exchange

In an effort to stem the depletion of groundwater and keep Arizona’s prized Verde River flowing, two vineyards are buying water credits through a new exchange designed to balance the basin’s water use for the good of the river and the local economy. Launched last week by the not-for-profit Friends of Verde River Greenway, the…

Along a Desert River, A New Breed of Rancher

“I don’t know what I pump and I don’t care – and that’s crazy,” says Paul Schwennesen, a fit, energetic rancher in his late thirties who might outcompete Clint Eastwood for most handsome cowboy. On his modest-size ranch, the Double Check, located in the lower San Pedro River Valley of southeastern Arizona, Schwennesen raises cows…

Changing the Course of our Freshwater Future

By Sandra Postel, Val Fishman and Todd Reeve We’ll cut right to the chase. We’re building a water stewardship movement, and we hope you’ll join us. Some 170,000 people and 22 companies already have. We have restored billions of gallons of water to depleted rivers and wetlands, and with your help, we can restore many…

Water Risks are Growing; Here’s a Tool to Help Us Prepare

Earlier this month, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, released its annual risk assessment, which looks across the spectrum of threats to society and ranks them. This year, it declared water crises to be the top global risk to society over the next decade. Just behind water crises were the failure to adapt to…

Dam on Ethiopia’s Omo River Causing Hunger and Conflict

In the lower Omo River Valley of southern Ethiopia, a spreading humanitarian emergency that threatens to spawn conflicts in the region is largely being met with silence from both the Ethiopian government and the international community. The filling of the reservoir behind Gibe III Dam on the Omo River is holding back the flows needed…

Dam Ideology

When it comes to water, concrete trumps common sense. That was the take-home message Wednesday evening from Daniel P. Beard, former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, who spoke at Old Town Farm in Albuquerque on his swing through New Mexico to promote his book, Deadbeat Dams. Our political leaders “appear to be ostriches…

Groundbreaking State Law Tested in Colorado Headwaters Stream

Sandra Postel and Todd Reeve The infamous use-it-or lose-it rule is arguably the biggest barrier to water conservation and river-flow restoration in the western United States. It basically says that if anyone holding water rights does not put them to full use, the unused portion can be taken away and allocated to serve the needs…

As the Gold King Spill Reminds Us, We All Live Downstream

Around this time last year, I was walking the banks of the Animas River in Durango, the southwestern Colorado town blindsided last week when the river turned a sickly yellow-orange from a colossal spill of toxic mine drainage upstream near Silverton. It’s hard to imagine a river more central to a town than the Animas…