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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.

Working Together to Change the Course

Everybody prefers a healthy, flowing river to a dried-up river channel. But in many parts of the world, including much of the western United States, it sometimes appears like we have to dry up our rivers to grow the food we need – that we can’t have productive agriculture and healthy rivers side-by-side. But, in…

Landscapes Transform With the Arrival of the Colorado River

It’s a rare event to see a river literally form before your eyes. But each day that we ventured out to find the leading edge of the Colorado River as it advanced through its delta during this historic “pulse flow,” we were treated to exactly that phenomenon: a dry, sandy channel that hasn’t seen water…

Monitoring the Pulse of the Colorado River

Now in its 14th day, the historic pulse flow coursing through the Colorado River Delta toward the sea is under the careful watch of dozens of scientists who fan out across the landscape to measure and track its vital signs – from flow rates and salinity levels to seed dispersal by native cottonwoods and willows.…

A Colorado Delta Community Reconnects with its River

On Tuesday afternoon, March 25, 2014, word got out that the river was coming. Kids, parents, dogs and teenagers began gathering at the bridge in San Luis Rio Colorado, a border town of about 160,000 people. Young people had never seen the river that gives this town its name flow beneath the bridge. They waited. …

Witnesses to History at Morelos Dam on the Colorado River

A dozen dignitaries faced a crowd of more than two hundred gathered yesterday at Morelos Dam in the Mexican city of Los Algodones, Baja California, to proclaim the release of a “pulse flow” of Colorado River water to its dry delta a momentous occasion for both the river and binational relations. (See “Historic Pulse Flow…

This World Water Day, Something Big to Celebrate

On Monday, March 24, I leave on a trip to witness an event I never thought I’d see:  the Colorado River flowing through its delta toward the sea. Except in years of unusually high precipitation in its watershed, the Colorado hasn’t coursed through its delta for most of the last half century. Its entire flow…

A Favorite Massachusetts Stream Loses a Dam – and Gains Aquatic Habitat

In early January, on a visit back to my old stomping grounds in western Massachusetts, I trekked along the snowy banks of Amethyst Brook, a beautiful headwater tributary in the Connecticut River watershed. My mission was to see the site of a dam removed in late 2012. I’d hiked through this area in the towns…

Help Return the Colorado River to the Sea

Imagine if one day you couldn’t get home.  Your journey stopped short of where you were supposed to be. That’s the story of the iconic Colorado River, which sculpted the Grand Canyon and today sustains 30 million people, but now stops flowing 90 miles before reaching the sea, its final destination. With partners, Change the…

In the Yampa River, Extra Flow Makes for Happier Fish

Back in late June 2012, the Yampa River – a beautiful Colorado River tributary that runs through the heart of Steamboat Springs, Colorado – was flowing at 5 percent of normal. Both the native whitefish population and the recreational trout fishery were threatened due to the river’s low levels of oxygen and its warmer temperatures.…

Fracking in Water-Stressed Zones Increases Risks to Communities – and Energy Producers

Even as concerns arise about the threats hydraulic fracturing poses to water quality and human health, a new study released yesterday finds that the water demands of the “fracking” process are adding considerably to localized water depletion, especially in parts of Texas, Colorado, and California. Nearly half of the fracking wells in operation since 2011…

Climate Disruption, National Security, and the State of our Union

If CIA surveillance picked up intelligence about a terrorist action that would alter weather patterns so as to slash global food production, unleash droughts and floods, ignite fires, inundate coastlines and turn millions of people into refugees it would not only headline the president’s State of the Union address, it would force the US government…

West Virginia’s Elk River Chemical Spill and How We Measure Progress

It’s a cruel irony for the 300,000 West Virginians forced to turn off their taps for five to ten days earlier this month after a chemical spill contaminated their drinking water supply that their inconvenience and, for some, illness and suffering, will count as a plus according to our leading economic indicator – the gross…

Ecological Artist Basia Irland and Her “Ice Books” Engage Communities and Restore Rivers

Basia Irland is a sculptor, poet, and installation artist who has focused her creativity on rivers for thirty years. Her aim is to connect people to their local waters and watersheds in ways that will motivate concern, caring, appreciation, and stewardship. I first met Basia more than a decade ago when I was invited to…

As a New Year Dawns, A Reflection on Water

Some months ago, I was asked to contribute to an anthology focused on a basic question about our planet’s future. The question was this:  “Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises? Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as…

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Fracking Found in Colorado River

This week, more evidence came in that hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) poses potentially serious risks to drinking water quality and human health. A team of researchers from the University of Missouri found evidence of hormone-disrupting activity in water located near fracking sites – including samples taken from the Colorado River near a dense drilling region…