I live in Tampa, Florida, and I'd like to think I've spent enough time in places like Lettuce Lake Park to have some idea what Florida looked like before human interference. (Which is fooling myself, given the boardwalks and roads that even let me into the park.) And I read the papers enough to have some idea about the constant battles between development and environmental preservation south of me in the Everglades, but local concerns understandably get more press here.
W. Hodding Carter's Stolen Water: Saving the Everglades from its Friends, Foes, and Florida provides an overview much larger than any continued-on-page-8 article, explaining the history of human alteration of the Everglades and connected water systems (which total up to most of the southern half of the Florida peninsula) and attempts to reverse the alterations. The difficulty here is people -- Miami and other urban areas on the southern part of Florida's East Coast; sugar cane farmers; mining; and even vacation-home owners whose properties are in the way of planned expansions to the Everglades National Park protected area. And, of course, disagreements between scientists and planners about what steps would actually work to fix the pollution, the lack of water going into the aquifers that humans draw on, and the lack of water reaching the wild areas. It ain't simple. But Carter makes it at least comprehensible. He also shows what there is in the Everglades and natural Florida that's worth appreciating and saving. The one solution that would make everything as pristine as humanly possible would involve turning huge farms and thousands of people's homes into protected parks, and they just aren't going to want to go, but this book does a good job of persuading the reader that as much toward that goal should be done as can possibly be done.