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Troubled Water

What's Wrong with What We Drink

Seth M. Siegel

A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin

Troubled Water Download image

ISBN10: 1250757037
ISBN13: 9781250757036

Trade Paperback

352 Pages



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If you thought America’s drinking water problems started and ended in Flint, Michigan, think again. From big cities and suburbs to the rural heartland, chemicals linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, birth defects, and lowered IQ routinely spill from our taps.

Many are to blame: the EPA, Congress, a bipartisan coalition of powerful governors and mayors, chemical companies, and drinking water utilities—even NASA and the Pentagon. Meanwhile, the bottled water industry has been fanning our fears about tap water, but bottled water is often no safer. The tragedy is that existing technologies could launch a new age of clean, healthy, and safe tap water for only a few dollars a week per person.

Scrupulously researched, Troubled Water is full of shocking stories about contaminated water found throughout the country and about the everyday heroes who have successfully forced changes in the quality and safety of our drinking water. And it concludes with what America must do to reverse decades of neglect and play-it-safe inaction by government at all levels in order to keep our most precious resource safe.


Praise for Troubled Water

"U.S. water-supply crises go far beyond Flint, Michigan. So reveals environmental writer Seth Siegel in this engrossing, well-reported survey."Nature

“A generation ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring launched the US environmental movement. Today, Seth M. Siegel’s remarkable book has the potential to spark a similar citizen’s awakening and with it a demand for better quality drinking water. Every elected official should be compelled to read Troubled Water—and every American should want to do so.”—U.S. Senator Mark Kirk

Troubled Water is a finely written, highly readable, and provocative book that recognizes the marvel that is modern drinking water while ringing needed alarm bells that need to be rung. Despite considerable progress, there are still too many people without safe drinking water and there are too many unregulated contaminants, whether in bottles or from the tap. No matter where we live in the U.S., we take water for granted at our peril. There are millions of people buying bottled water when tap water is safe, and too many people having to buy bottled water because their tap water isn’t safe. Siegel illuminates the under-appreciated problems with the status quo, and empowers and motivates us all to engage.”—Felicia Marcus, former Chair, California State Water Resources Control Board, and former EPA Regional Administrator

“From the cancer-causing chemical tainting industrial towns to the lead poisoning the little kids of Flint, we’ve made a mess of one of America’s greatest blessings—clean, abundant drinking water. If you want to know how we bungled our way into this disaster and what we need to do to trust our taps once again, you’re in for a fantastic read. Troubled Water is Seth M. Siegel’s powerful wake-up call and call to action to make America’s water clean again.”—Ken Cook, co-founder and president, Environmental Working Group

“Meticulously researched and well written, Troubled Water addresses the quality of drinking water in the United States with fascinating stories and profound examples that bolster Seth M. Siegel’s provocative arguments. The book’s sweeping list of proposed reforms will generate a large readership and shape the national debate over our most precious resource.”—Robert Glennon, Regents’ Professor, University of Arizona, and author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It

“Seth M. Siegel is a master storyteller who captures the essence of complex situations and challenges in clear terms that connect how a problem evolved, what was done about it and by whom, to where we need to go today, and to a solution. His research and its presentation are engaging, accurate and insightful. Troubled Water is enjoyable, provocative and motivates the reader to action towards addressing our critical infrastructure needs. I give it an A+.”—Upmanu Lall, Chair, Department of Earth & Environmental Engineering, Director, Columbia Water Center

"Eminently readable, meticulously researched, and unquestionably important—this should be on the reading list of every person who cares about the livelihood of their community, the health of their children, and the economic well-being of our collective future. And this is not just a diagnosis of the harms we face, as Siegel also provides us with effective and affordable prescriptions for solutions to the problems in providing this basic human right—clean water. Read this book, and let’s answer Siegel’s call.—J. Val Klump, Dean and Professor, School of Freshwater Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"Well-presented, hard truths about our drinking water, which 'is less safe than we deserve.'"Kirkus Reviews

"Thoroughly researched and passionately written . . . the information he imparts as he focuses on water contamination is critically important . . . this is a science title with real power to heal our sickened world."Booklist (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Seth M. Siegel

SETH M. SIEGEL is a lawyer, an activist, a serial entrepreneur and the author of the New York Times bestseller Let There Be Water. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and in leading publications in Europe and Asia. He has spoken on water policy hundreds of times around the world and in Congress, the United Nations, the World Bank, and at dozens of leading universities. He is married and lives in New York City.

(c) Talia Siegel

Seth M. Siegel

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