Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Polluted rivers makes comeback

   Just 40 years ago, the Rouge River caught fire. About the same time, a man fell into the river, swallowed some water and later died due to an infection from  a waterborne disease.
   Even carp, the fish that survives in oxygen depleted water, were being found washed up on shore, dead due to the extreme pollution.
   Fast forward to today. While the Rogue River isn't a pristine trout stream, it nevertheless has weathered the storm and cleaned up fairly well.
   Thanks to groups that have taken an interest in it's preservation, trash and other debris continues to be removed thanks to the efforts of various "Friends" groups.
   Improvements to the way sewage is processed and handled continue to be addressed. Today, even with the many advances made to identify accidental or intentional discharge of pollutants, run off of raw sewage continues to be problematic during storms when combined sewers are used.
   An excellent book, "Burning Rivers-Revival of Four Urban-Industrial Rivers that Caught on Fire," by John H. Hartig Ph.D. explains in easy-to-understand language how these rivers; The Cuyahoga, Chicago, Buffalo, and Rogue, came to be so polluted, and the miraculous recovery they have made.
   There is still work to do. Proceeds from Hartig's book go to the Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society.
   "I don't receive any money," Hartig said. "I just get the satisfaction of further the cause."

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