1st Edition

Water in North American Environmental History

By Martin V. Melosi Copyright 2022
    304 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    304 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Water in North American Environmental History offers 25 cases studies that explore the range of uses and perceptions of water throughout Canadian, Mexican, and United States history.

    Water has served a myriad of purposes historically as human sustenance, agricultural irrigation, sanitation, fire protection, military defense, power generation, transportation, and much more. Water and its uses provide an excellent entrée into the study of humans and the environment, not only because water is a vital resource for life, but also because water as a medium is so intimately woven into the everyday experiences of humans and into society’s economic, political, and social fabric. A North American perspective is not representative of the world’s water use, but it is an area with a linked history and many overlapping human and environmental features and concerns. With a continental perspective, the book explores many disparate topics without being confined to the history and experiences of just one country. The chapters are short, but descriptive, and departure points for what they tell us about the human experience in dealing with water and the environmental implications of water use. The text leads students to consider water in relation to society, and to the past.

    The book will be of interest to students of environmental history, geography, and the environmental sciences.

    Part I Indigenous Peoples Before Contact  1. The Hohokam: The "Canal Builders" of the American Southwest  2. The Aztecs and the Founding of Tenochtitlan  3. The Inuit, Sea Ice, and Snow  Part II Colonialization and Early-Industrial Growth  4. Acequias and Spanish Water Law  5. The Origins of Commercial Fishing in Newfoundland  6. From Waterwheels to Steam Engines  Part III Expansionism and Western Settlement  7. The California Gold Rush: Placer and Hydraulic Mining   8. Capricious Border: The Rio Grande River  Part IV Commerce, Industry, and Urban Growth  9. Philadelphia’s Waterworks: Pioneering Clean Water for Cities  10. Water Rerouted: The Erie Canal  11. Building the Toronto Waterfront  12. The Lure of Falling Water: Niagara Falls  Part V The Mid-Twentieth Century  13. The Houston Ship Channel’s Environmental Footprint  14. "Levees-Only" in Louisiana and The Great Mississippi Flood  15. Salmon, Hydropower, and the Fraser River  Part VI The Post-War Years  16. Racism and Civil Rights in American/Canadian Swimming Pools  17. Detergent Phosphates in the Great Lakes  18. The Fluoride Controversy  19. Hurricane Hazel: In Canada  Part VII The New Ecology  20. Mexico’s Ixtoc 1 Oil Spill  21. The Ogallala Aquifer in Decline  22. Water Management and Privatization in Modern Mexico  Part VIII Social Crises/Environmental Injustices  23. The Flint Water Crisis  24. Maquiladoras and Water Pollution  25. To Frack or Not to Frack in Mexico  26. Postscript: Climate and Water


    Martin V. Melosi is Cullen Professor Emeritus of History and Founding Director of the Center for Public History at the University of Houston, USA. He studies environmental and urban history and energy history.

    2022 John Lyman Book Award honorable mention in the category of "Naval and Maritime Science and Technology":

    "Teachers offering classes on environmental history, especially of either water or North America, will want to consider adding this book to their syllabi. Alternatively, the book could help hurried and harried instructors who need to give a class lecture or two on topics that appear here. College and university libraries should add it to their collections."

    J.R. McNeill, Georgetown University, USA in Environment and History