America’s wettest state is running out of water. Yes, Florida-with its swamps, lakes, extensive coastlines, and legends of life-giving springs-faces a drinking water crisis that most people don’t see coming. 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. Failing water infrastructure and increasing outbreaks of toxic algae are worsening pollution problems. Climate change, sea level rise, and groundwater pumping are spoiling freshwater resources with saltwater intrusion. Because of water 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 hundreds of 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 the cooperation and single-minded focus of all whose lives depend on the most precious substance on earth.
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