Water Inc.

Water Inc. English: Hardcover, Verso Books (London and New York: 2005). Paperback, McArthur & Co. (Toronto: 2006); French: H20, Jacques Lanctot editeur (Montreal: 2006). German: Blut fur Wasser, Paul Hanser Verlag (Munich: 2008). Korean: Escargot Press (Seoul: 2008). ISBN UK1859845967ISBN USA 1-85984-596-7


Drought afflicts the American heartland, and nothing but drought is predicted for the American southwest and west coast for decades to come, creating a thirst so colossal that billionaires drool at the prospects for water profiteering. A Seattle aerospace executive, retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and conservationist Malcolm Macpherson, discovers a plan by a private consortium of corporate leaders to ship vast amounts of water to the American Southwest and west coast. William Ericsson Greele, a brilliant and visionary plutocrat, leads the consortium. He has chosen the Canadian province of Quebec – rich in blue gold, yet isolated and unimportant to the rest of the world – for the source of that water. But there is a huge catch: the project must be close to a fait accompli before the plan goes public – otherwise a vigilant environmental movement could successfully derail it.

Malcolm Macpherson grasps the enormity of the project and its consequences, and reaches out to recruit the director of  Eco-Justice USA – rebel-girl Claire Davidowicz – to try to head it off. They seek the support of a group of seasoned Quebec environmentalists, a combative British journalist, a reluctant eco-terrorist, three rogue policemen and a maverick Vermont governor hated by Greele’s group and the White House. The race is on. American state governors and powerful federal government officials ride shotgun for the consortium. In Quebec a talented, existentially-torn deputy minister – Serge Lalonde – orchestrates the pipeline project and a ruthless, separatist minister of finance clears one obstacle after another. Their opponents respond in a series of deft countermoves. And then the game turns deadly.

Cat and mouse, David and Goliath, political suspense, environmental thriller and love story – Water Inc. is all of these. It is the story of what happens – and who makes it happen – when these opposing forces take their place on the battlefield. The action sprawls across North America and ranges as far as Mexico, Lisbon and Brussels, in a tale of environmental danger, greed and mortal risk.

Praise for Water Inc.

“…a sharp tale of hydrological reengineering – the theft of water – in a prescient and illuminating thriller.’ -Kirkus Review. (more below) 

Scary, but True: Environmentalist’s eco-thriller delivers a frightening take on the world’s water crisis.’ “‘My ambition is to deliver a great read while I deliver the bitter message,’ says author Varda Burstyn.”  The Ottawa Citizen:

I could not put Water Inc. down… It’s a fantastic read, a heart-pounding eye-opener for Americans, full of great characters, romance, damning eco-facts; a political thriller and spiller that will grab you and hold you in bed late at night or at the beach. Refreshing, hard-hitting and full of hope all at once.”- Laura Flanders, host of The Laura Flanders Show on Air America, and Author of Bush Women.

Water Inc. is a rip-snorting contemporary eco-thriller” -W.P. Kinsella, Books in Canada.

"Canadian Burstyn…tenders a sharp tale of hydrological reengineering – the theft of water – in a prescient and illuminating thriller. What starts out as a leisurely piece of ecological skullduggery becomes more and more shivering through the sheer venality of corporate greedsters and governmental egomaniacs and the tactics they use to sate their avarice. It all has to do with water: good old H2O, without which life ceases and which in pure, copious quantities is becoming a rarer commodity day by day. …[T]he heroes are an appealing, disparate bunch, friends of the environment, wise to the ways of computer hacking, political chicanery, and industrial malarkey. Burstyn also works a good balance of humor…, romantic twinning, and dissolution, as well as some nasty murders of oppositionists… [Water Inc. is] an easy-to-imbibe lesson in the politics of water (a world of hush-hush realpolitik malfeasance) and in the toothlessness of governmental protective measures. …A flustering cautionary tale, the first in a trilogy, roiling with intrigue and suspense." - Kirkus Review

Canadian writer Burstyn dramatizes the high stakes involved in the battle for commercial control of “big water” in a smart, sexy, witty, and hard-hitting ecothriller…Alluring characters and a careening plot provide shivery pleasures as Burstyn orchestrates a galvanizing introduction to a looming global crisis.”- Donna Seaman, Booklist

A spectacular ecothriller about corrupt officials and military-industrial-complex billionaires conspiring to pipe water down from Canada, nicely leavened by a love story between nature geeks fighting the nefarious plan. - Orion.

"[A] new, major thriller by a Canadian…could we be looking at the first truly great northern thriller? …Varda Burstyn has built her story on the scariest question on the global warming agenda: given a future of increasingly tapped-out and polluted sources of water how will the West cope? …Water Inc. is a cautionary tale about this country’s vulnerability… Burstyn knows exactly what — and who — it would take to marshal a takeover of Canada’s resources. Every foot soldier of corruption is here, every misguided treaty, pressurized PM, unaccountable corporation, out-of-touch bureaucrat, righteous CEO, partisan news corporation, and unheeding, powerless member of the public." - Adair Brouwer, Quill and Quire.

"Water, Inc. is a true reflection of the current water crisis – and is a book that reinforces and educates us as to how water is the mysterious yet common denominator that connects all people…Canadian author Varda Burstyn’s novel is entertaining, swiftly paced and altogether unsettling. More than an action-packed eco-thriller, Water Inc. is a privatization nightmare…The authors’ many characters are well-drawn, particularly the villains…. Water Inc. is a terrific read. It’s also a wake-up call for all of us." - The Durango Herald

“…MuchWater Inc. is a wild and woolly wake-up call for a planet hell-bent on squandering its natural resources … a first novel that thrills and chills and ultimately spills the beans on the fresh water shortage barreling our way…” - Brad Smith, author of One-Eyed Jacks and All Hat

“…Much of [Water Inc.] is based on water statistics and facts that define today’s water reality. [It] is a page-turning book that weaves a scenario that with little doubt reflects today’s water challenges. A reality whereby our governments have become transparent pawns of the ever-growing and powerful transnational corporations. Corporations who often pay homage to the altar of short-term gain regardless of the long-term deadly consequence to our beleaguered world of life. I have researched and written about water for over thirty years – and am impressed by how Water, Inc. provides accurate and sometimes frightening information… From the homes and boardrooms of the rich and powerful, to the soul-searching choices as to what is important in one’s Earthly passage – Burstyn provides us with insights that touch all walks of life. …Water, Inc. is a true reflection of the current water crisis – and is a book that reinforces and educates us as to how water is the mysterious yet common denominator that connects all people.” - William E Marks,water researcher, author, and speaker.

This is a well-crafted novel… and the author has evident mastery of her subject matter. …[Water Inc.] also demonstrates how counter-terrorist security measures can potentially lead us astray. This is a useful book whose greatest strength is its timely treatment of an issue on the verge of becoming an urgent preoccupation of utmost importance.” - Le Devoir.

[Water Inc] is a fast-paced thriller, with appealing protagonists. …[It] is a must-read for anyone looking for a political thriller that goes beyond typical palace intrigue. Burstyn crafts an immensely entertaining story that reads like it was written by a long-time novelist. She expertly explores how governments often work hand-in-hand with business interests, even on the most potentially harmful projects. Let’s hope Burstyn continues writing such entertaining novels…” - Press Action.

Water Inc. concerns a consortium of American billionaires who recognize the impending water crisis that their greed has created. … Opposing them is a disparate group including a disillusioned executive, Canadian activists for eco-justice, a campaigning journalist and assorted rogue police and computer hackers. …Burstyn expertly reveals the way global corporations hide their crimes with unaccountable subsidiaries, interlocking shell companies and labyrinthine accounting trails. …Burstyn marshals both her huge cast of characters and her arguments as to the importance of “water wars” with skill and integrity.” - Peter Whittaker, New Internationalist.

Water Inc. [is] an eco-thriller which some say could prove to be visionary. With this sober, plot-twisting story, Burstyn offers a troubling reflection on the commercialization of natural resources: a rich businessman schemes to transport water from its source in Quebec to the United States via a pipeline. …Neither high-level corruption nor attempts to confound the media through disinformation can frighten off a duo of ecologists who attempt to denounce the plan before it is too late. [This is an] eco-political thriller whose intrigue resides above all in its unsettling portrait of the future.”- Le Soleil.

In this racing novel of finance, chicanery, corruption and political power, Varda Burstyn demonstrates how the right connections and influence manipulate people for profit. She posits a viable threat to Canada’s most precious natural resource. …Burstyn writes well in the best thriller tradition. She engages a large cast to implement her story of intrigue, deception and manipulation. …It’s a highly readable adventure, with a strong, serious message to take away from the account. Water is precious. Burstyn wants you to be aware of that and be prepared to take your own steps to keep it.” - Stephen A. Haines, Practical.org; Amazon Top 100 Reviewer.

[Water Inc.’s environmental message] unfortunately doesn’t go away once the story has ended: [it is] impossible to escape the resonance of these thought-provoking ideas.” - Progres-Dimanche Arts-Télé.

[A] fantastic new book … a real page turner… The characters are fascinating, the relationships compelling and the story so hot I couldn’t put the book down all week-end. I highly recommend it.” - Judy Rebick, author, Imagine Democracy and Ten Thousand Roses, former television host, and publisher of rabble.ca.

This excellent eco-thriller is a worthy antidote to the Michael Crichton-saturated science-thriller market. …[T]here were times when I was torn between opposing thoughts that either this is the greatest book ever written or it is very good pulp fiction. Ms. Burstyn walks a tightrope skillfully between the two. … I seriously hope her book encourages a new breed of contemporary socially-conscious thrillers.” - Obscure Cities, obscurecities.blogspot.com.