cover image Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Cynthia Barnett, . . Univ. of Michigan, $24.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0472115631

In recent decades, severe droughts in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, along with shrinking aquifers, dried-up lakes and sluggish rivers in the Southeast have induced bitter East Coast fights over what was once an exclusively Western concern: water scarcity. What happened? Barnett, the longtime environmental reporter for Florida Trend magazine, answers that question in a rigorous look at the relentless pressure of development and burgeoning human populations on natural water supplies, particularly in the wetlands of Florida. Chapter by chapter, Barnett documents the expanding sinkholes, loss of ancient lakes, pollution of water tables and river systems, aquifer mining and negligent politics that have led to Florida's perpetual water crisis—including a disastrous shift in weather patterns. Considering such crises elsewhere in the U.S., Barnett finds that successful allocation agreements are rare, lessons learned are quickly forgotten and an ever-growing population spells more trouble to come. Though it may lack popular appeal, this comprehensive and well-referenced volume does feature appearances from such well-known figures as Walt Disney, Jeb Bush, and Hurricane Katrina, and should become vital reading for citizens and policymakers as global concerns over water scarcity grow. (Apr.)