Florida Historical Society Stetson Kennedy Award
Florida Book Awards, Bronze Medal for Florida Nonfiction
“Unsettling and well-documented. . . . An eye-opening study that leaves few stones unturned.”—Foreword Reviews
“Dunn’s perspective on the fresh water issues facing Florida offers context and insights on the crisis as well as possible solutions, including many at an individual level.”—Choice
“Puts the Florida particulars of the world-wide fresh water crisis before readers in an accessible, well-researched, and well-balanced study.”—Phil Jason Reviews Books
“Water is the top issue for Florida’s future, and Drying Up is a must-read primer.”—Craig Pittman, author of The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid
“From the Everglades to Florida’s crystal-clear springs, Drying Up explores the sad history of how the Florida growth machine disrupted and destroyed Florida’s natural water processes. Yet Dunn remains hopeful, which makes his informative case study essential reading for those who care about Florida’s future.”—Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It
“The history of Florida’s water woes is clearly explained in this fascinating and factual book. A valuable resource for all politicians and decision makers.”—Guy B. Marwick, environmental activist and executive director of The Felburn Foundation
“A timely clarion call for action. Florida’s natural waters are being ruthlessly depleted and polluted for short-term profit by greedy developers. Dunn provides a cogent description of this harsh reality, but also plots a possible path for redemption.”—Robert L. Knight, author of Silenced Springs: Moving from Tragedy to Hope
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.
John M. Dunn is a journalist, educator, and water advocate. He is the author of several books and has written for Sierra, Florida Trend, the St. Petersburg Times, and other publications.
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