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River RepublicThe Fall and Rise of America's Rivers$
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Daniel McCool

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161312

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161312.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Downstream Dilemma

Downstream Dilemma

Water Pollution

(p.189) 8 Downstream Dilemma
River Republic

Daniel McCool

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how water pollution diminished the value of American rivers and destroyed their essence as a natural resource. For more than 200 years, rivers in America were used as a convenient dumpsite for sewage, toxic waste, and agricultural runoff. This occurred despite the fact that two-thirds of the country's drinking water comes from rivers. The effort to pass meaningful and enforceable national water quality standards was a long, incremental struggle that finally bore fruit in 1972, when the Clean Water Act, to be administered by the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was passed into law. Two years later, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This chapter considers the experiences of three cities—Atlanta, Washington DC, and Seattle—that each has committed grievous sins against a local watercourse, but has made dramatic efforts to correct past mistakes. In particular, it looks at each city's river restoration initiatives.

Keywords:   water pollution, American rivers, drinking water, water quality, Clean Water Act, Environmental Protection Agency, Safe Drinking Water Act, Atlanta, Seattle, river restoration

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