A splash in the face

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The Nora Ephron film Julie & Julia, which starred Meryl Streep as famed TV chef Julia Child, was partially based on a book called My Life in France that was co-written by Child and her great-nephew, Alex Prud’homme. One day during lunch with his Aunt Julia, a conversation about bottled water propelled Prud’homme along another creative path: one that led to an intensive three-year investigation of water issues. The journalist found himself 600 feet beneath Manhattan exploring New York City’s new Water Tunnel No. 3 and traveling to Las Vegas, New Orleans, California and Alaska in pursuit of evidence for his contention that fresh water is the defining resource of the 21st century.

The result was a book titled The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the 21st Century. If you’ve ever speculated that a day is coming when the peoples of this planet will be warring over fresh water for drinking and for growing crops, rather than over oil, you won’t want to miss Prud’homme’s upcoming talk at the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. The event will take place on Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Institute’s Center for Environmental Innovation and Education, located at 199 Dennings Avenue in Beacon. Admission is free and open to the public, but advance online registration is requested at https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e729q3byf96a9ae9.

Prud’homme remains convinced that positive outcomes are achievable even after his immersion in realities like water scarcity, political corruption, inefficiency, our crumbling water infrastructure and climate change. “We’re on the verge of a great period of innovation and opportunity; however, we need to be intentional,” says the author. “The Dutch have an environmentally friendly system which provides protection from a once-in-a-10,000-year storm. Singapore is probably the most efficient user of water. But the success of water programs in countries like Holland and Singapore is less about technology and more about policy, funding and most importantly about public education.”

The book The Ripple Effect has gone on to inspire a documentary film titled Last Call at the Oasis, which was developed, financed and executive-produced by the company responsible for An Inconvenient Truth and Food, Inc. The Beacon Institute will host a screening of Last Call at the Oasis on Thursday, June 20. For more information about both of these events, please call (845) 838-1600 or visit www.bire.org/events.

The Ripple Effect with Alex Prud’homme, Thursday, May 16, 7 p.m., free, Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, Center for Environmental Innovation and Education, 199 Dennings Avenue, Beacon; (845) 838-1600, www.bire.org.

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