Urban Rivers Everywhere Follow the Cuyahoga's Lead

On the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River catching fire in Cleveland, it's a good time for urban river keepers everywhere to reevaluate their work and redouble their efforts to make safe and healthy rivers for everyone.

2 minute read

July 10, 2019, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Charles River

The Charles River in Boston has had its own environmental restoration successes. | AS designer / Shutterstock

Renée Loth, columnist for the Boston Globe, looks to Cleveland and the Cuyahoga River on the 50th anniversary of that river's most infamous episode (i.e., catching on fire) to not only celebrate the work done to restore that river, but also to look to other rivers around the country for more examples of environmental success.

The Cuyahoga is not the only River Lazarus to come back from the dead. Other US waterways — the Potomac, the Missouri, our own River Charles — have recovered from industrial pollution enough to be fishable and swimmable most of the time. A message runs through it: If mankind stops heaping abuse on the planet, in time it will heal.

The article details the cleanup efforts on the Charles River, which have focused on removing sewer overflows and stormwater runoff that pours hazards off the streets and into the river.

A lot of progress has already been made, especially with regard to sewer overflows. "The EPA’s first water quality report card, in 1995, gave the Charles a D. Thanks to new federal and state mandates, legal pressure from environmental groups, and benefits from the Boston Harbor cleanup, combined sewer overflows have been reduced by well over 90 percent," according to Loth.

Lest Bostonians think their work is done, Loth notes that numerous runoff locations still need to be fixed, and the river has dropped a grade on the water quality report in recent years.

Monday, July 8, 2019 in The Boston Globe

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