Alexandra Cousteau: We have a global water crisis

Muncie Free Press

In just a few generations, Alexandra Cousteau has seen the Mediterranean Sea go from hosting large fish and sharks to shrimp and octopus with the threat of gas and oil wells that could make it look like the Gulf of Mexico.

"We have a global water crisis," said the granddaughter of famed ocean explorer Jacque Cousteau and daughter of Phillippe Cousteau.

The activist, explorer and storyteller came to Ball State University Wednesday as part of the Bracken Environmental Speaker Series to talk about water conservation and sustainability.

Her Blue Legacy efforts that traveled around the world told countless stories about water have renewed worldwide efforts at water management. Two years ago, she joined Oceana, an international ocean conservation group that works to protect and restore oceans.

Cousteau said demands on drinking water like rapid population growth and persistent climate change constantly diminished clean water supplies and resulted in more conservation.

Some of her stories seen on National Geographic and Discovery channels illustrate natural wonders like the reserve Mekong River in southeast Asia that provides fish and other aquatic life in forests. Those stories also show the lack water in many desert countries besides others where water was dammed or diverted.

On the issue of dams, like plans to dam White River to create Mounds Lake, Cousteau said there was good and bad dams, and that she always wanted to push the button to blow up a dam.

She talked about problems with damming the Colorado River and other waterways that restricted a river's flow.

Cousteau said her early documentaries worldwide gave some Americans a false impression that the water crisis did not hit home.

Her effort then turned to America where she found countless stories about water needs, pollution and work to protect drinking water.

And the United States has the means and technology like no other country to improve water quality and make sure it is conserved, she said.

The worldwide explorer and activist encouraged students to engage and participate in efforts to conserve and protect water. Recalling the 1970s when the United States passed the Clean Water Act and created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cousteau hoped the country would continue to pioneer clean water efforts.

Andy Sharpless, Oceana CEO, said Cousteau came from a family of "ocean heroes" 

"It's in her blood," he said. "She has been at this since her first expedition when she was four months old. She has a level of experience and creditability theta is extremely unique.