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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.

Let’s Change our Water Story

Our human story has always been a water story. The earliest civilizations developed and grew along rivers – from the Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East, to the Nile in Egypt, to the Yellow River in China. Rivers have been the lifelines for the growth and evolution of societies, providing the essentials of food,…

Nile River Nations Agree to Cooperate, but Danger Lurks for One of Planet’s Great Wetlands

Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia reached agreement on basic principles for managing what will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, which is now under construction on the Blue Nile near the Ethiopian-Sudanese border. While the unilateral building of big dams is often a trigger for conflict in international river basins,…

Lessons from São Paulo’s Water Shortage

It’s getting harder and harder to separate nature’s role in disasters from our own, and the dire water predicament confronting São Paulo, Brazil, is no exception. But as with the ongoing drought in California, there are important lessons from São Paulo’s grim situation that can help us prepare for the “new normal” that’s unfolding. It’s…

Climate Change Poses Existential Water Risks

We often hear it said that climate change is too abstract to win the support needed to effectively combat it. But the primary way we will experience climate change is through the water cycle – through droughts, floods, depleted rivers, shrinking reservoirs, dried-out soils, melting glaciers, loss of snowpack and overall shortages of water to…

Love Water for Chocolate

As Valentine’s Day approaches, no doubt many of us have chocolate on our minds and taste buds. Delicious, dark, tempting chocolate that, eaten in moderation, may even be good for us. As we’ve learned in recent years, the cocoa beans that give chocolate its main ingredient contain flavanols, which scientists have discovered may reduce the…

India’s Food Security Threatened by Groundwater Depletion

The severe and ongoing depletion of underground water supplies in India poses a growing threat to the nation’s food security. Without serious efforts to stem the mining of groundwater, food production will decline, unleashing painful social and economic consequences for this nation of 1.25 billion people. All four of the world’s top irrigators – China,…

A Year Without the Colorado River, as Seen by Economists

Imagine if each tap that delivered water from the Colorado River – whether to a farm, a factory, or a home – suddenly went dry for a year. What would happen to the West’s economy? That’s pretty much the question a team of researchers at Arizona State University set out to answer – and the…

VIDEO: The Colorado River Reaches the Sea and Brings Life to Its Delta

In the list of conservation success stories of 2014, the return of flow to the once-verdant Colorado Delta ranks high. The spring pulse flow made possible by Minute 319, the groundbreaking agreement signed in late 2012 by the US and Mexico, brought the Colorado River to the Sea of Cortez for the first time in…

Securing Water for Urban Farms

As most of us know, a great deal of our food travels long distances by planes, trains, trucks and ships before reaching our dinner plates. Even California – the fruit, nut and vegetable bowl of the United States – imports some of its asparagus from Peru, table grapes from Chile, Navel oranges from Australia, and…

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…