In which Sandra Postel has some nice things to say about my book

I wanna tell you the story of the time I met Sandra Postel in a dry riverbed in the deserts of Mexico.

When I first started writing about water more than two decades ago, the work of the water scholar Postel was both informative and inspirational. As much as anything I came across, her work convinced me that dealing with water scarcity was a problem that mattered, that was worth’s a life’s attention. Which is why this, on the back cover of my book, means so much:

Sandra Postel on "Water is For Fighting Over"

Sandra Postel on “Water is For Fighting Over”

In the many years since, I came to write a lot about water, and Sandra moved to New Mexico, we’d traded emails, but we’d never actually met in person until one warm day in the spring of 2014, in a dry sandy riverbed on the Sonora-Baja border in northern Mexico.

A crowd was gathering, as the people of San Luis waited for the water to arrive, the environmental “pulse flow”. A woman walked up to me, mistaking me for someone else, extending her hand in greeting: “Karl, nice to meet you, I’m Sandra Postel.”

“I’m not Karl,” I responded (it turned out we both were looking for the same Karl), “I’m John Fleck.” And for the next few hours, we shared the joy of the community of San Luis and the larger community of the Río Colorado as the water arrived in the normally dry riverbed. For all of us who were there, it was magical. As a journalist I live for the wonkish details of water measurement and legal minutiae, and then there are moments that will carry you away down the story. Such was the magic of the water flowing past San Luis. That day forms the rhetorical spine of my book, there at the beginning and there at the end.

So it’s a great joy to have Sandra’s kind words on the jacket.

Water is For Fighting Over and Other Myths About Water in the West officially goes on sale Sept. 1, but I keep hearing from friends and colleagues who’ve pre-ordered from Amazon or Island Press and say copies are beginning to trickle out.


  1. Congratulations, John. I got my copy “Water for Fighting” yesterday. Can’t wait to read it.

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