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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.

With Water, Life Returns to the Colorado River Delta

Last spring, on the eighth day of the release of Colorado River water into its channel at the US-Mexico border – an event known as the “pulse flow” – I witnessed something extraordinary. Like most mornings, I headed out with my National Geographic team before dawn to find the leading edge of the river as…

A Diversion of the Gila River Would be Wasteful, Harmful and a Big Mistake

By the end of the year, New Mexico must notify the U.S. Secretary of Interior whether it will pursue the construction of a diversion project on the Gila River in the southwestern corner of the state. New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission decided last week to recommend that the state pursue the diversion. But Governor Susana…

A Watershed Moment for Los Angeles

The timing might seem odd, even self-destructive. Last month, in the midst of one of the most severe droughts in California’s historical record, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order calling for his southern California city to cut its water imports by half within a decade. Water transferred hundreds of miles from northern…

What the Disappearing Aral Sea Tells Us about the Value of Water

The satellite image of the Aral Sea recently released by NASA just about knocked my socks off. It wasn’t that the sea was shrinking; that’s been true for decades.  It was how fast it was disappearing. Once the world’s fourth largest lake, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has been losing water for half a…

Rivers Need a Thorough Health Exam

Rivers are the blue arteries of the Earth. Their flows deliver sediment and nutrients to floodplains, deltas and coastal zones, some of the most biologically productive ecosystems on the planet.  They connect and sustain the web of life. So it might be surprising that globally we don’t systematically monitor their health.  Imagine damming and diverting…

With 38% of Global Shale Gas Located in Regions of Water Stress, More Oversight of Fracking is Urgently Needed

As more data emerge, shale gas increasingly appears to be in the cross-hairs of the water-energy nexus, and far too little is being done to defuse impending conflicts. While hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), the process used to unleash natural gas from shale deposits, has raised serious concerns about groundwater contamination, less attention has been given…

Artist Anne Neely Evokes the Mystery and Magic of Water

Motivated by concern over growing threats to the world of water, Boston-area artist Anne Neely undertook a decade-long search to understand and interpret what is happening to rivers, lakes, oceans, glaciers and aquifers. “I approach painting by asking questions, just as a scientist does,” Neely writes in Water Stories, the companion book to the exhibit…

Young Farmers in the Western U. S. Adapt to a Water-Scarce Future

Sipping raw, whole, grass-fed milk is a bit like tasting fine wine: a familiar experience, but much more special. That was my feeling when I drank a glass this week from De Smet Dairy in Bosque Farms, New Mexico, a small town nestled in the middle Rio Grande Valley. With his wife Erica, Mike De…

Public Helps Restore Flows to Critically Depleted Rivers

Change the Course, a water restoration movement led by National Geographic Fellow Sandra Postel, has encouraged some 70,000 people to cut their water footprint and restored 2 billion gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin. The model will be presented at this year’s Stockholm Water Symposium during World Water Week.

Colorado River Basin’s “Natural Capital” Delivers up to Half a Trillion in Annual Benefits, New Study Says

Last week I spent time around the Animas, La Plata, and San Juan Rivers in southwestern Colorado – generally the area between Pagosa Springs and Mesa Verde National Park, where the elaborate cliff-dwelling ruins of the Anasazi remind us that what we call home may not last forever. On one bright blue day pushing 90…

A Short List of Effective Actions to Conserve Water at Home

With droughts and water shortages slated to affect ever-larger portions of the United States, more and more people wonder how they can meaningfully make a difference. Lots of websites offer water-saving tips, but which actions actually conserve meaningful volumes of water?  And which offer the most conservation bang for the buck? A new study out…

Groundwater Depletion in Colorado River Basin Poses Big Risk to Water Security

Let’s step back for a minute and consider the implications of the study released last week on the depletion of groundwater in the Colorado River Basin. For anyone concerned about the future of the American West, the findings of this study – which was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and conducted by…

Drought Hastens Groundwater Depletion in the Texas Panhandle

Persistent drought in northwest Texas is leading farmers to pump more water from the Ogallala Aquifer, hastening the depletion of this crucial water supply. Over the last decade, from 2004-2014, average underground water levels across the 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) have dropped 8.83 feet (2.69 meters), with three counties seeing average…

West-Slope Colorado Towns Restore Local Flows, Even as Thirsty Front-Range Lawns Drink From their Rivers

  By Sandra Postel and Todd Reeve When residents in Denver, Colorado Springs and other cities on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains turn on their sprinklers to irrigate lawns, they rarely think about the fate of fish in the headwaters of the Colorado River on the other side of the Continental Divide. But,…

Along the Rio Grande, An Innovative Water Market Restores Riverside Habitat

With rivers in the American Southwest dammed, diverted, drought-stricken and running dry, their fate is increasingly in human hands. Now, in the southern portion of the Rio Grande in New Mexico, a unique partnership of irrigators, government agencies and conservationists is returning some water to the river’s floodplain – and to the native trees, songbirds,…