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Moving Water

'Moving Water' cover image

Moving Water

The Everglades and Big Sugar

A riveting story of environmental disaster and political intrigue, Moving Water exposes how Florida's clean water is threatened by dirty power players and the sugar cane industry.

At the turn of the last century, nearly all of South Florida was under water. The Everglades, one of the largest wetlands in the world, was a watery arc extending over 3 million acres. Today, that wetland ecosystem is now half of its former self, supplanted by housing for the region's exploding population and some 700,000 acres of crops, including the nation's largest supply of sugar cane. Countless canals, dams, and pump stations keep the trickle flowing, but only haphazardly address the cascade of environmental consequences, including profound threats to a crucial drinking water source for a full third of the state.

In Moving Water, environmental journalist Amy Green explains the establishment and progress of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), a $17 billion taxpayer-funded initiative aimed at reclaiming this vital ecosystem. Green also details the efforts of sugar-growing interests, or "Big Sugar," to halt or slow cleanup of the fertilizer runoff wreaking havoc with restoration. At the center of this story are unlikely heroes George and Mary Barley: wealthy real estate developers and champions of the Everglades, whose complicated legacy spans from fisheries in Florida Bay to the political worlds of Tallahassee and Washington.

This engrossing exposé tackles some of the most important issues of our time Is it possible to save a complex ecosystem such as the Everglades—or, once degraded, are such ecological wonders gone forever? What kind of commitments—economic, scientific, and social—will it take to rescue our vulnerable natural resources? What influences do special interests wield in our everyday lives, and what does it take to push real reform through our democracy? Appealing to anyone fascinated by stories of environmental crusaders like Erin Brockovich, as well as readers of political intrigue and anyone who cares about the future of Florida, this book reveals why the Everglades serve as a model for environmental restoration efforts worldwide.