Drying Up: The Fresh Water Crisis in Florida
Florida Historical Society Stetson Kennedy Award Florida Book Awards, Bronze Medal for Florida Nonfiction America’s wettest state is running out of water. Florida―with its swamps, lakes, extensive coastlines, and legions of life-giving springs―faces a drinking water crisis. Drying Up is a wake-up call and a hard look at what the future holds for those who call Florida home. Journalist and educator John Dunn untangles the many causes of the state’s freshwater problems. Drainage projects, construction, and urbanization, especially in the fragile wetlands of South Florida, have changed and shrunk natural water systems. Pollution, failing infrastructure, increasing outbreaks of toxic algae blooms, and pharmaceutical contamination are worsening water quality. Climate change, sea level rise, and groundwater pumping are spoiling freshwater resources with saltwater intrusion. Because of shortages, fights have broken out over rights to the Apalachicola River, Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and other important watersheds. Many scientists think Florida has already passed the tipping point, Dunn warns. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews and years of research, he affirms that soon there will not be enough water to meet demand if “business as usual” prevails. He investigates previous and current restoration efforts as well as proposed future solutions, including the “soft path for water” approach that uses green infrastructure to mimic natural hydrology. As millions of new residents are expected to arrive in Florida in the coming decades, this book is a timely introduction to a problem that will escalate dramatically―and not just in Florida. Dunn cautions that freshwater scarcity is a worldwide trend that can only be tackled effectively with cooperation and single-minded focus by all stakeholders involved―local and federal government, private enterprise, and citizens. He challenges readers to rethink their relationship with water and adopt a new philosophy that compels them to protect the planet’s most precious resource.