MOUNT DESERT — Alex Prud’homme, great-nephew of the late Julia Child whose family summered on Mount Desert Island, will talk about his latest book, “The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century,” on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Northeast Harbor Library’s Mellon Room at 1 Joy Road. The talk is free and open to all.
Mr. Prud’homme is a journalist and co-author with Ms. Child of the bestselling memoir “My Life in France.” As the he and Ms. Child were completing their collaboration on her memoir, they began to talk about the French obsession with bottled water, which had spread to America and that sparked Mr. Prud’homme’s interest in what would become a quest to understand the evolving story of fresh water in America.
He sought to answer questions including: Will there be enough water to satisfy demand? What are the threats to its quality? What is the state of our water infrastructures – both the pipes that bring us fresh water and the levees that keep water out? How secure is our water supply from natural disasters and terrorist attacks? Is water a right, or a commodity, a source for sale?
Mr. Prud’homme traveled across the United States to find answers. His search led him to explore the alleged murder of a water scientist in a New Jersey purification plant, the epic confrontation between salmon fisherman and copper miners in Alaska, the poisoning of Wisconsin wells, an epidemic of intersex fish in the Chesapeake Bay, and the wars over fracking for natural gas.
He says that in the next few decades, water will surpass energy and global warming as our most urgent issue because water consumption is doubling every 20 years, but supply is staying the same and the EPA is too underfunded and understaffed to effectively monitor the quality of drinking water.