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Lessons Learned in the Development of U.S. Water Law Findlay G. Edwards, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE.

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Presentation on theme: "Lessons Learned in the Development of U.S. Water Law Findlay G. Edwards, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lessons Learned in the Development of U.S. Water Law Findlay G. Edwards, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE

2 Cretes Greeks Romans

3 1799 5.3M 1829 12.9M 1859 31.4M 1889 63M 1933 126.4M 1990 252M


5 Broad Street Well 1854 London Cholera Outbreak 1862 Germ Theory Pasteur, Koch, Fracastoro, Bassi, Henle

6 1899 Rivers & Harbors Act 60 towns had Wastewater Treatment Plants 1M people out of 76M (30M urban) early 1900’s trickling filter, Imhoff tank, chlorine disinfection, activated sludge plant Progressive Era

7 Environmental Movement Sierra Club (1892 – wilderness) National Audubon Society (1905 – birds) Izaak Walton League (1922 – fishing) The Wilderness Society (1935 – wilderness) National Wildlife Federation (1936 – wildlife) Defenders of Wildlife (1947 – predators) World Wide Fund for Nature (1961 – endangered species) Environmental Defense Fund (1967 birds-DDT) Friends of the Earth (1969 – environment) Natural Resources Defense Council (1970 - wildlife)

8 Polluted Harbors and Fisheries "Official Washington has no knowledge that the American people give a damn about pollution, and until they do care there will be no great advance as to pollution“ - Herbert Hoover Glouster, Massachusetts -- "A thick scum has caused serious damage to fish and sea life. It has also caused much discontent and complaint from tourists." Charleston, South Carolina -- "Local fishermen complain of injury to fishing and say fish have been driven away from harbor and inlets..." New Orleans, Louisiana -- "A considerable proportion of the batteries are noticeably polluted with oil. No beach can be considered suitable for recreation. A disastrous fire occurred in the port a year ago, the fire to a considerable extent being spread by oil pollution." Portland, Oregon -- "Considerable damage has resulted [from oil spills], especially to floating logs and sawed timbers..." Baltimore, Maryland -- "There has been a very detrimental effect on fish, oysters and wildfowl." National Coast Anti-Pollution League - 1922

9 Cuyahuga River Cleveland Ohio National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Fishable – swimmable rivers $50 billion for construction grants for municipal wastewater treatment plants Greater public awareness and involvement Industrial pretreatment Sewer use ordinances Discharge standards based on increased understanding of environmental impacts of wastewater discharges Greater appreciation of long term effects of pollutants. Clean Water Act 1972

10 Love Canal Niagara Falls NY Prohibitions and requirements for closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites Persons responsible for releases of hazardous waste at these sites are liable National trust fund for cleanup when no responsible party could be identified. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 1980

11 Public Awareness


13 Lessons Learned? Change happens when the public wants change and is not lead by politicians or the government. The public will endanger themselves or put up with unhealthy conditions as long as the benefits are more obvious than the long term negative consequences. It takes a “catastrophic” event to awaken the public to long term negative consequences.







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