Book Reviews


Curve Number Hydrology: State of the Practice , R.H.Hawkins, T.J.Ward, D.E.Woodward, and J.A.Van Mullen ( Editors ). ASCE Press , 1801 Alex Ball Dr., Reston, Virginia 20191-4400 . 2008 . 106 pages . ISBN 978-0-7844-1004-2 .

The Curve Number (CN) method is a simple and popular model used in many hydrologic applications. Since its inception in 1950s by the U.S.D.A Soil Conservation Service (SCS), today known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the original method and its modifications have been widely applied in the U.S. and other countries. This book aims to compile a broad range of knowledge about the science, applicability, and limitations of the CN method, describes model limitations, and makes recommendations for its appropriate application.

The book consists of four chapters. History and the need for developing the original CN method to meet the mandate of the Small Watershed and Flood Control Act of 1954 (PL-566) is presented in Chapter 1. Details about the development of the CN method, the model components (land use and hydrologic soil group), and modes of application are provided in Chapter 2. The major undertakings and findings of the Task Committee (i.e., in-depth analysis of the CN method) are documented in Chapter 3. This chapter contains a description of the structure of the basic equation; sensitivity analysis and calibration methods; discusses the basic conflicts related to CN method and infiltration capacity and a performance comparison with other techniques such as the Green-Ampt infiltration model; and the use of CN method in soil moisture modeling and other hydrologic simulations. Chapter 3 concludes with a list of concerns related to the widespread use of CN method beyond its original capabilities. Chapter 4 provides a summary of findings and opportunities in using the CN method. Most importantly, Chapter 4 presents several recommendations to address concerns exposed in the course of review, the need for further investigation, and steps that may create consistency, understanding, and improved utility of the CN method.

The book is concluded with the following epilogue: “In the end, attempts to understand the rainfall-runoff process have been unavoidably dominated by the need to simplify it. The concept and formulation of the CN method, embodying the subtractive and nonlinear nature of hydrology, has been insightful in that regard. As a conceptual and computational model, the CN method, and even the CN values themselves, has remained and will remain an icon to our understanding of hydrology.”

The book contains a large number of useful reference citations. In my opinion, this is a must read book for researchers and graduate students in hydrology. The book provides an interesting perspective of how hydrologic concepts are evolved. It also provides a cautionary note in how the use and misuse of hydrologic concepts and models can be institutionalized.

Tamim Younos
210 Cheatham Hall, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0444

The History of Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting: Interviews With U.S. Department of Agriculture Pioneers , D.Helms, S.E.Phillips, and P.F.Reich ( Editors ). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service , Washington, D.C . 2008 . 306 pages .

This is an interesting and readable book that describes the first decades of field research design to quantify the relationships between winter snowcover and spring runoff in the western United States (U.S.). More than 60 million people in the western U.S. rely on water from mountain river basins for their drinking, irrigation, and industrial needs, while more than one billion people globally depend on water from seasonally snow covered catchments. The quantity of water available from these snow-fed rivers, reservoirs, and aquifers varies with trends in precipitation and temperature as well as with changes in forest properties. Knowledge of how much water will be available each year is critical for urban and agricultural interests in the region both from a standpoint of what and how much to plant, how to manage reservoirs, and from when to warn of potential floods. The initial efforts at obtaining this knowledge, from the first snow surveys in the Lake Tahoe region to the beginning of the SNOTEL network, are detailed in this history. The book itself is organized around four parts that include a general introduction, geographical distribution of survey sites, several overview articles, and the interviews mentioned in the title.

Part 1 will immediately capture the interest of anyone involved in the measurement of snow cover as well as those interested in western environmental history. The first page of the introductory chapter presents a photograph from the early 1900s of Dr. James E. Church, widely considered the father of western snow surveys, in the Sierra Nevada range outside Reno, Nevada. The chapter briefly discusses how this Classics professor from the University of Nevada teamed with the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station to begin measuring snow on Mount Rose and the greater Tahoe region. For those not familiar with snow surveying, the precursor to the widely used Mount Rose snow core sampler was developed here.

Part 2 presents state-by-state maps of snow survey sites throughout the western United States. Although interesting from a local perspective, the true impact of these maps becomes apparent later in the book when the reader learns how few individuals were responsible for developing and maintaining these widely distributed sites, many of which required days of oversnow travel simply to reach. Part 3 follows with several short articles that in many ways summarize the interviews in the next section, providing a more concise historical overview of the program that brings the reader up to speed quickly on the major developments in the snow survey program.

At 225 pages, Part 4 is by far the largest section of the book. This section presents interviews with seven snow survey pioneers from the USDA (R.A. “Arch” Work, Gregory Pearson, Jack Washicheck, Morlan Nelson, Bob Whaley, Arthur Crook, and Phil Farnes) and provides much more detail as well as considerable regional perspectives on snow surveying and colorful insights into the personalities involved. Throughout the interviews, the reader is struck by the varied backgrounds of the individuals who came to snow survey work. Common among the snow surveyors is a strong sense of independence, a dedication to their work, physical strength and endurance, and a great appreciation and respect for these high mountain environments. The interviews describe the development of snow surveyors from a loosely coordinated group of individuals, to a broader community of snow scientists and engineers that eventually gave rise to the Western Snow Conference. Anecdotes throughout recount the occasional battles with other agencies and academicians as well as trials and tribulation during field work and method development to which many readers will be able to relate.

Overall, the book is well-produced and generally easy to read, although the nature of the book (i.e., multiple interviews on similar subjects) leads to repetition of key events that may bother some readers. The historical photographs throughout are a major attraction, providing context for those not familiar with work in remote mountain locations. Beyond the intended audience of snow researchers, hydrologists, and water supply forecasters, the book is likely to be of interest to lay readers with interests in mountains or early 20th Century environmental history. My greatest, although still relatively minor, concern with the book is the absence of a final chapter that updates the reader on progress from the time of the interviews (late 1980s and early 1990s) to the current day. Even so, I definitely will keep this book in my library and use it as a historical reference in my courses.

Paul D. Brooks
Hydrology & Water Resources, University of Arizona
1133 East James E. Rogers Way
Tucson, Arizona 85721


Hydrological Research in China , D.Yang, F.Tian, L.Tang, and Z.Liu ( Editors ). IAHS Press, Center for Ecology and Hydrology , Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK . 2008 . 262 pages . ISBN 978-1-901502-64-0 .

There is a broad range of climate in China, varying from arid to semiarid and semihumid to humid, which induces a variety of hydrological phenomena. Under the pressure of the increasing population, in northern China the scarcity of water resources is becoming a bottleneck for social and economic development and has led to the widespread degradation of natural ecosystems and the environment, while in south China flooding is a great threat whose potential risks are elevating steadily with the growth of the population as well as the economy. Accurate predictions of droughts and floods are extremely important to the social and economic safety of all these regions. China is on the way to changing from traditional water resources development to water resources management for sustainable development. The advanced hydrology can play an important role in the water resources management with regard to hydrological predictions. This proceedings includes 36 papers that are separated into three sections: Process Studies, Modeling Approach, and Applications.

Arsenic Contamination of Groundwater: Mechanism, Analysis, and Remediation , S.Ahuja ( Editor ). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , 111 River St., 4th Floor, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030-5774 . 2008 . 387 pages. $150 . ISBN 978-0-470-14447-3 .

Arsenic contamination of ground water affects about 100 million people worldwide. The book includes an assessment of environmental health risks and economic impacts and the technologies available for dealing with the problem. It explores developments in the geochemistry, detection, measurement, removal, and toxicology of arsenic. To develop technology for remediation, sound knowledge of geochemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, and separation chemistry, including chromatography, is necessary. This book: (1) defines the nature and scope of the problem, including ways that arsenic gets into the food chain; (2) focuses on naturally occurring arsenic and explains the mechanism of ground-water contamination; (3) describes low-cost analytical methods and testing kits; (4) discusses existing and emerging remediation methods, ranging from coagulation with ferric chloride or alum to award-winning solutions; and (5) draws on the experience and expertise of world-renowned experts in microbiology, analytical chemistry hydrology, environmental chemistry, and separation chemistry. This is a core reference for scientists working in the fields of geochemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, and separation science and technology.

Adaptive Governance: The Dynamics of Atlantic Fisheries Management , D.G. Webster . MIT Press , 55 Hayward St., Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142 . November . 2008 . 391 pages. $27 . ISBN 978-0-262-73192-8 .

The rapid expansion of the fishing industry in the last century has raised major concerns over the long-term viability of many fish species. International fisheries organizations have failed to prevent the overfishing of many stocks but succeeded in curtailing harvests for some key fisheries. In Adaptive Governance, D.G. Webster proposes a new perspective to improve our understanding of both success and failure in international resource regimes. She develops a theoretical approach, the vulnerability response framework, which can increase the understanding of countries’ positions on the management of international fisheries based on linkages between domestic vulnerabilities and national policy positions. Vulnerability, mainly economic in this context, acts as an indicator for domestic susceptibility to the increasing competition associated with open access and related stock declines. Because of this relationship, vulnerability can also be used to trace the trajectory of nations’ positions on fisheries management as they seek political alternatives to economic problems. Webster tests this framework by using it to predict national positions for eight cases drawn from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). These studies reveal that there is considerable variance in the management measure ICCAT has adopted – both between different species and in dealing with the same species over time – and that much of this variance can be traced to vulnerability response behavior. Little attention has been paid to the ways in which international regimes change over time. Webster’s innovative approach illuminates the pressures for change that are generated by economic competition and overexploitation in Atlantic fisheries. Her work also identifies patterns of adaptive governance, as national responses to such pressures culminate in patterns of change in international management.

The Nanticoke: Portrait of a Chesapeake River , D.W. Harp and T. Horton , The Johns Hopkins University Press , 2715 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland 21218 . December . 2008 . $30 . ISBN 978-0-8018-9057-4 .

Once again marrying photography with prose, the authors capture the natural beauty and rich history of the Nanticoke River, one of the Chesapeake’s least-known waterways. More than 100 color photographs reveal unspoiled waters rarely glimpsed other than by Native Americans, tugboat captains, naturalists, and commercial watermen. The Nanticoke makes clear the urgency of preserving this vital but fragile ecosystem. Despite rampant development and agricultural abuse, the Nanticoke remains one of the most pristine rivers of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, looking much as it did when Captain John Smith first sailed its waters 400 years ago. While parts of the river drain stormwater off the flat fields of the Delmarva Peninsula, most of the Nanticoke serves no purpose except natural beauty. Its meandering waters and fertile wetlands sustain a remarkable diversity of life. The Nanticoke is home to beavers, otters, woodpeckers, freshwater fish and shellfish, watergrasses, bog orchids, bald cypresses, and the rare Atlantic white cedar.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Water Theory: On the Origin and Fate of Water , L. Pfister, H. Savenije, and F. Fenicia . IAHS Press, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology , Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK . 2009 . 92 pages . ISBN 1-901502-34-3 .

Fascinating, revealing, and inspiring, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Water Theory opens up a new history to the study of water. Two hundred years before Newton, Perrault, and Halley, Leonardo Da Vinci was doing hypothesis-driven science and describing and classifying hydrological processes. For example, he came close to the modern definition of the hydrological cycle, recognizing that water passes through the major river systems countless times, summing up to volumes much greater than those contained in the world’s oceans. Pfister, Savenije, and Fenicia carefully report Da Vinci’s seminal work and provide a modern hydrological backdrop. The book includes many of Da Vinci’s sketches, which are surprisingly accurate relative to today’s knowledge. Leonardo’s words are presented in bold typeface. The liberal use of his words adds to the historical perspective that the text provides. Those who teach hydraulics, fluid mechanics, hydrology, and even geology will benefit from reading this book.

GROUNDWATER: Benchmark Papers in Hydrology , M.P. Anderson . IAHS Press, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology , Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK . 2008 . 625 pages. £55 . ISBN 978-1-901502-74-9 .

The papers reprinted in this volume on ground water were chosen by Mary P. Anderson. Her selection, and the commentaries that she has prepared to accompany them, the development of ground-water hydrology during the 20th Century. The topic is separate into seven sections: Establishing Fundamentals includes one pre-20th Century paper, a translation of Darcy’s experimental results that led to the relation we know as Darcy’s law, as well as classic papers by Meinzer, Theis, Hubbert, and others. Determining Parameters covers the development of pumping test theory and practice, and approaches to estimating aquifer parameters in the field. Flow System Analysis includes a lesser-known paper by Theis (1940) and the frequently cited paper by Freeze and Witherspoon (1967), among others. Parameter Uncertainty research is represented by two papers (Freeze, 1975 and Marsily et al., 1984) that reflect the concern, which has yet to be resolved, regarding quantification of uncertainty. Interaction with Surface Water traces how, from the mid-20th Century on, recognition of ground-water interaction with the ocean, lakes, and streams grew and influenced related disciplines.

Contaminant Processes contains papers that were significant to research on contaminant occurrence and transport in the 1970s and 1980s. Dispersion and Heterogeneity link Slichter’s (1950) seminal contribution that identified dispersion in the field and Skibitzke and Robinson’s (1963) laboratory findings, with more recent attempts to represent these phenomena with models.

Water Treatment: Plant Performance Evaluations and Operations , J.T. O’Connor, T. O’Connor, and R. Twait . John Wiley & Sons, Inc. , 111 River St., 4th Floor, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030 . 2009 . 236 pages. $95 . ISBN 978-0-470-28861-0 .

This book presents the results of a series of 26 on-site studies to systematically evaluate and improve unit processes, operations, and procedures at the Bloomington, Illinois, water treatment plant. It provides guidelines for comparable long-term studies, illustrating how other water treatment plants might develop their own advanced analytic laboratory capabilities, assess treatment process performance, and improve their operations. Using a case study approach, the authors address such issues as: (1) maintaining regulatory compliance; (2) evaluating particle and organism removal performance; (3) testing, evaluating, and enhancing filter operations; (4) managing seasonal taste and odor problems resulting from algal blooms; (5) improving lime softening performance, efficiency, and operations; (6) quantifying GAC adsorption and microbial degradation of organic matter; and (7) developing a comprehensive plant operations manual. Readers learn how to utilize basic tools and internal resources to reduce costs, improve operational efficiencies, meet evolving regulatory requirements, update emergency procedures, and document standard operational procedures and experiences.

Nanotechnology Applications for Clean Water , N. Savage, et al . William Andrew, Inc. , 13 Eaton Ave., Norwich, New York 13815 . 2009 . 592 pages . ISBN 978-0-815515-78-4 .

This landmark reference details nanotechnology breakthroughs, cutting edge technologies, and future trends that point to widespread applications for nanotechnologies employed in water remediation and pollution prevention. A full range of treatment and remediation topics using nanotechnologies are covered, including a case study in detecting and extracting pesticides from drinking water. The U.S./Israel Workshop on Nanotechnology for Water Purifications is outlined. Societal implications that may threaten the adoption of these new technologies are also addressed. The book covers (1) drinking water purification, treatment, and desalination; microbial disinfection; nanofiltration applications; and commercialization of nanotechnology for the removal of heavy metals; (2) balanced analysis of nontechnology-enabled disinfection and microbial control; the principles and applications behind Dendrimer-enhanced filtration; and possible applications of fullerene nanomaterials and the ion exchange process in treatment and reuse; (3) explains biosensors for pesticide and explosive detection, nanosensors for environmental monitoring, and colorimetric/fluorescent sensors; and (4) exhaustive coverage of remediation topics: contaminated site clean up; physicochemistry to increase stability, mobility, and contaminant specificity of nanoparticles; heterogeneous catalytic approaches in purification; stabilization/destruction of chlorine; reducing leachability, synthesis of particles; etc.

Climate Change and Groundwater , W.Dragoni and B.S.Sukhija ( Editors ). AAGP Bookstore , P.O. Box 979, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74101-0979 . April 2008 . 192 pages. $150 . ISBN 978-1-86239-235-9 .

There is a general consensus that for the next few decades at least, the Earth will continue its warming. This will inevitably bring about serious environmental problems. For human society, the most severe will be those related to alterations of the hydrological cycle, which is already heavily influenced by human activities. Climate change will directly affect groundwater recharge, groundwater quality, and the fresh-water-seawater interface. The variations of groundwater storage inevitably entail a variety of geomorphological and engineering effects. In the areas where water resources are likely to diminish, groundwater will be one of the main solutions to prevent drought. In spite of its paramount importance, the issue of “Climate Change and Groundwater” has been neglected. This volume presents some of the current understanding of the topic.

Contaminants of Emerging Environmental Concern , A. Bhandari, et al . ASCE Press , 1801 Alex Bell Dr., Reston, Virginia 20191-4400 . January . 2008 . 490 pages. $79 . ISBN 978-0-7844-1014-1 .

A new category of environmental contaminants is capturing the attention of citizens, scientists, and regulators: anthropogenic chemicals. These contaminants are predominantly unregulated and human made. They occur in air, soil, water, food, and human and animal tissues in trace concentrations. Not only do these chemical compounds persist in the environment, they are also capable of altering the physiology of target receptors. In ASCE’s Environmental and Water Resources Institute, the Technical Committee on Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste management has compiled a book about these anthropogenic contaminants. This report considers specific pollutants, including: pharmaceuticals, personal care products, antimicrobials and antibiotics, hormones, plasticizers, surfactants, fire retardants, pesticides, and nanoparticles. In addition, this book summarizes the analytical methods used for separation and quantification of emerging contaminants and describes molecular biology approaches to identify organisms capable of degrading these chemicals. This book contains extensive illustrations and tables with current references.

Environmental Impacts of Pasture-Based Farming , R.W.McDowell ( Editor ). CABI , 875 Massachusetts Ave., 7th Floor, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139 . 2008 . 283 pages . ISBN 978-1-84593-411-8 .

Focusing on the different types of grassland farming and their impact on the environment, Environmental Impacts of Pasture-Based Farming takes a broad and interdisciniplinary view of the subject. The text is organized into two parts, the first addressing issues facing environmental quality, namely soil, water, and air quality and socio-economic impacts. The second part offers commentary on how the different pastoral sectors influence environmental issues. With highly tuned farm production systems comes the risk of environmental impacts, and the purpose of this text is to highlight the areas with which these risks are associated and how best to mitigate them. While drawing attention to potential problems, chapter authors remain conscious of the socio-economic needs of land users and the increasing world population and keep in mind that intense mitigation may be too restrictive on the farming system. Taking an unbiased approach to improving management of grazed land and incorporating research from environmental science, agriculture, soil science, and ecology, this text will be essential reading for both researchers and policy makers.

Water and Sanitation Services: Public Policy and Management , J.E.Castro, and L.Heller ( Editors ). Earthscan , Dunstan House, 14a St. Cross St., London EC1N 8XA, UK . 2009 . 363 pages. $127 . ISBN 978-1-84407-656-7 .

This book is divided into two parts: the first reviews theoretical and conceptual issues, such as the political economy of water services, financing, the interfaces between water and sanitation services and public health, and the systemic conditions that influence the provision of these services. The second section presents a number of country or regional case studies, each one chosen to highlight a particular problem approach or strategy. These case studies are drawn from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe, covering a wide range of socio-economic and political contexts. The book will be of great interest to advanced students, researchers, professionals, and NGOs in many disciplines, including public policy and planning, environmental science, environmental sociology, history of technology, civil and environmental engineering, public health, and development studies.

Hydrology 2020: An Integrating Science to Meet World Water Challenges (IAHS Publ. 300) , T.Oki, et al . ( Editors ). IAHS Press, Center for Ecology and Hydrology , Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK . 2006 . 190 pages . ISBN 1-901502-33-3 .

Interdisciplinary research within and between hydrology and other disciplines, including social, political, and economic sciences, is essential. Increased efforts should be directed toward capacity building and professional training in hydrology, particularly in developing countries. This should be accompanied by improved communications between scientists and policy makers to ensure the hydrological expertise is translated into actions that address water challenges. To help make progress on these issues we recommend the establishment of a global hydrological intergovernmental organizing mechanism, the main task of which would be to strengthen coordination and cooperation among existing international organizations in the fields of water resources management and hydrology. The report discusses the nature of the proposed mechanism and presents a number of other recommendations in its various chapters that we hope will spur a debate on the role of hydrology, hydrologists, and water resources managers in solving the global water challenges.

Hydrology in Mountain Regions: Observations, Processes, and Dynamics , D.Marks ( Editor ). IAHS Press, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology , Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, UK . 2009 . 182 pages . ISBN 978-1-901502-89-3 .

Around the globe, mountainous areas are some of the most sensitive to climate warming. Climate warming will alter patterns of mountain precipitation, changing the seasonal snow cover and mountain hydrology. It is critical that we understand how climate interacts with snow and mountain hydrology, how streamflow and ecosystems will be affected, and how these changes will translate into impacts on water supply for ecosystem, agriculture, and human sustainability. This book presents 22 papers representing a broad spectrum of our understanding of this critical problem. These are subdivided into five groupings: (1) precipitation distribution and mountain hydrological processes; (2) hydrological, geochemical, and ecohydrological modeling in mountain regions; (3) soil and groundwater hydrology in mountain regions; (4) large-scale analyses over mountainous regions; and (5) tropical mountain hydrology.