Dayton Daily News,
July 15, 2007
— The Miami Valley is one of the most water-rich regions in the
United States, on top of one of the nation's most productive aquifers.
And we're just a stone's throw from the Great Lakes.
Cynthia Barnett argues that we'd better think twice if that's the attitude
here in the Midwest. Her new book, "Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing
Water of the Eastern U.S." (Regional, $24.95), sounds a warning to
the complacent residents of water-rich lands that others are coming for
Barnett demonstrates how even the most water-rich state can become parched
by building her book around Florida's tragic water mistakes. She uses
the state to instruct readers in the basics tenents of environmental protection
and why it matters to everyone. Why should Floridians care if Atlanta
suburbanites water their lawns? Because in a drought, the rivers that
begin in Georgia won't have enough water to feed Florida's bays downstream.
And without the perfect freshwater/saltwater balance at the outlet to
the Gulf of Mexico, valuable shellfish are completely wiped out. Suddenly,
there's an economic problem, too.
The most important lesson of "Mirage" is that water scarcity
is a national problem. Barnett shows how population shifts and redistricting
have shifted federal political power south and west, where some are plotting
to pipe, truck and barge away Great Lakes region freshwater. While it
might seem the Great Lakes have plenty of water to share, Florida has
proven even the most water-rich region can see its eco-system wrecked
once the water starts getting pumped out.
As Barnett shows, Americans can't pretend forever that water is a right
and should be nearly free. We have to be taught to conserve.
– Scott Elliott
The Dayton Daily News