Amid a scourge of pollution a half-century ago, the United States and Florida passed bedrock water legislation with the Clean Water Act at the federal level and the state’s sweeping water and land-management laws of 1972, some of the strongest in the country. As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of these water laws and celebrate their triumphs, our waters face new challenges. Florida-based author Cynthia Barnett has written four books that span the hydrologic cycle, from freshwater to rain to her new book on the sea, The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans. In our final “Let’s Talk About Water Lecture,” Barnett, an environmental journalist in residence at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, will weave together lessons from the past and new challenges for the future. Her closing lecture, State of Water, State of Mind, reflects on water as Florida’s defining element–and how citizens can get more engaged with our state’s most precious resource.

State of Water, State of Mind is part of a conversation series, Let’s Talk About Water, convened by Florida Humanities to celebrate water as a life-sustaining source.