Swamps and marshes once covered vast stretches of the North American landscape. The destruction of these habitats, long seen as wastelands that harbored deadly disease, accelerated in the twentieth century. Today, the majority of the original wetlands in the US have vanished, transformed into farm fields or buried under city streets.
In The Marsh Builders, Sharon Levy delves into the intertwined histories of wetlands loss and water pollution. The book's springboard is the tale of a years-long citizen uprising in Humboldt County, California, which led to the creation of one of the first U.S. wetlands designed to treat city sewage. The book explores the global roots of this local story: the cholera epidemics that plagued nineteenth-century Europe; the researchers who invented modern sewage treatment after bumbling
across the insight that microbes break down pollutants in water; the discovery that wetlands act as efficient filters for the pollutants unleashed by modern humanity.
More than forty years after the passage of the Clean Water Act launched a nation-wide effort to rescue lakes, rivers and estuaries fouled with human and industrial waste, the need for revived wetlands is more urgent than ever. Waters from Lake Erie and Chesapeake Bay to China's Lake Taihu are tainted with an overload of nutrients carried in runoff from farms and cities, creating underwater dead zones and triggering algal blooms that release toxins into drinking water sources used by millions
of people. As the planet warms, scientists are beginning to design wetlands that can shield coastal cities from rising seas. Revived wetlands hold great promise for healing the world's waters.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 510 g
Dimensions: 243 x 164 x 21 mm
If only we had realized how critically important our wetlands were before we drained, filled, and polluted them. How could this have happened and what do we do now? I highly recommend reading Levy's book to find out. * Jennifer H. Mattei, Sacred Heart University *
[an] excellent account of our relationship with water and wetlands over the past 200 years by veteran science journalist Sharon Levy. * Brent Tegler, Liana Environmental Consultingn Ltd., Fergus, ON, Canada The Canadian Field-Naturalist V *
This is an excellent reference for ecologists, microbiologists, and engineers with soils, civil, and sanitary backgrounds, as well as students. * CHOICE *
Sharon Levy's new book offers a fascinating history of wetlands, their human-caused decline and our growing understanding of why we need to restore them. * Erica Gies, The Revelator *
Sharon Levy's book spans centuries and continents to make a powerful argument for a back-to-nature approach to deal with sewage. Rather than sophisticated technology, she convincingly brings out how nature has ways we can learn from for treating sewage with a minimal environmental footprint. * Nitya Jacob, water policy analyst, consultant, and former Head of Policy, WaterAid India *