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OCCC Reads 2015-2016: Water Matters: Chapter 14: Is Conservation Enough?

This guide provides a range of resources to use for OCCC Reads 2015-2016.

Chapter Summary


Christina Roessler begins with a cautionary tale of the Ancestral Pueblos (1200 to 1300 CE), a 1,000 year old culture who because of a speculated prolonged drought and other climate changes along with suspected drops in water table levels, lost the inertia of their significant Southwest culture.

Jump to the 21st century and a question for us:  “What will it take for our desert communities and ecosystems to survive?” 

Regardless of climate change speculations and predictions, the population growth of these desert areas has at least doubled since 1960-now over 48 million people served by the Colorado River Compact.  There is already a fundamental crisis over the supply and demand needs of the Western states, and both population growth and current drought trends are quickly adding more pressure for a given solution.

So what happens?   The high tech answer, water desalination, may create more problems than it can solve.  The rivers and water tables are already under stress.  If a place has lots of money (billions) and another place that will sell them water, then maybe an answer to a particular place.  Limiting growth is not an American ideal.  The smart cities are investing in water conservation.  Go Albuquerque and Tucson!

The chapter then becomes a study in what towns and citizens can do. Go xeriscaping!  And with water conservation comes the harder human thing to do:  changing concepts and perspectives.  The class work becomes the question, “What can we do in Oklahoma City to ensure water quality and supply?”

Why Use this Chapter?

Why use this chapter: 

  1. To set the stage, have students complete the water Calculator Quiz at page196 or at the link below
  2. Explore the question, “What does a culture of conservation look like?”  This can be water, but also carbon conservation, recycling, or wise land use.  Students can research and study models that work. 
  3. Students can research the psychology of attitude and behavior change. 
  4. Prepare a water conservation plan for the class to adopt.
  5. Prepare responses to Edmund Burke’s “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” 
  6. Research desalination technology
  7. Have students, in groups, explore the advantages of the “14 Actions You Can Take to Protect Our Water”  on pages 194-195
  8. Research/report/present on great American conservationists (starting with Aldo Leopold!)
  9. Debate the conservation ethics of meeting current needs (pragmatism) vs meeting the needs of future generations (care ethics).
  10. Compare and Contrast the Civil Rights Movement to current Conservation Movements
  11. Interview someone in a city water management office.
  12. Conservation project: Create a plan of action to reduce an individual’s household water use by 10%.
  13. Research and explore the “spiritual” dimensions of water