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Is Another Water Revolution on the Horizon?

Chion Wolf

Each time you go to turn on the faucet, flush the toilet, or water the lawn, you’re connecting yourself to a complex water system with nearly two and a half thousand years of history. The structure of our modern network of reservoirs, pipes, and drains owes much of its influence to designs dating back to ancient Rome. 

According to author David Sedlak, the development of Rome’s urban water system marked the first of three major water revolutions in our history. Now, in the midst of population growth and climate change, Sedlak believes that a fourth revolution is on its way. It’s something he outlines in his new book Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource.

On our program, David Sedlak and local water expert Virginia de Lima join us for a conversation about our water systems. We find out more about their history and see how they’re faring today. What changes need to be made to keep them flowing for years to come?

And, later, reporters from West Virginia Public Radio give us an update on the recent Elk River chemical spill, which left nearly 300,000 residents without access to safe drinking water in January.


  • David Sedlak? - Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of California, Berkeley; Author of Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World's Most Vital Resource
  • Virginia de Lima - Chief of USGS New England Water Science Center's Connecticut Office 
  • Beth Vorhees - News Director at West Virginia Public Radio 
  • Dave Mistich - Digital Coordinator at West Virginia Public Radio 

This program originally aired on 2/28/14. Here's an updated interview with West Virginia Public Radio's David Mistich. 

Tucker Ives is WNPR's morning news producer.
Catie Talarski is Senior Director of Storytelling and Radio Programming at Connecticut Public.

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