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Chapter 7

GGRA03H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Cuyahoga River


Department
Geography
Course Code
GGRA03H3
Professor
Charles H
Chapter
7

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Chapter 8: Water Pollution and the City
-two main water issues: contamination and ensuring the supply of clean water
Wastewater in US Cities
-one of the major reforms to the industrial city” of the 19th century was the creation of sewer system
-by mid 20th century, the volume of sewage and storm water exceeded the ability of most plants
-Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) refers to the temporary direct discharge of untreated water
-occurs when a city has a combined sewer system which is prevalent in the urban centers in the
Northeast and Great Lakes region
-when it rains, the excess volume of sewage, clean water, and storm water is discharged untreated
into rivers
-the discharge consists of many pollutants, untreated sewage and debris
-CSOs are the sources for beach closings and contamination of water
-Sanitary Sewer Systems have separate pipes that collect sewage and storm water separately
-excess storm water can overload the system and so storm water is discharged untreated due to rain
-pollutants associated with CSOs and SSOs include nutrients, bacteria and other pathogens, metals
and toxic chemicals
Article: Point and nonpoint pollutants
-two main sources of water pollution: point and nonpoint
-point sources are those where there is a clear discharge mechanism
-example: oil, heavy metals, acids, organic matter
-point sources of water pollution are easy to monitor and control
-due to the clean water legislation, point source pollution in the US has declined
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-non point sources are any source from which pollution is discharged which is not identified as a
point source
-example: salt, gasoline, antifreeze
-hard to quantify individual contributions
-two main types:
urban runoff: various pollutants that accumulate in soil and on roadways that are washed
into the sewage systems during floods or rain; largest source of pollution to beaches
wastes and sewage from residential area: collected in the larger sewer system, impossible to
tell the origin, harder to regulate and reduce
-by the early 20th century, cities began to install secondary treatments which involved aeration and
finer filtration
-more controlled way of producing bacterial growth to break down biological solid
-eliminated more than 95 percent of bacteria from the water
Water Quality Legislation
-1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 1956 Water Pollution Control Act, and the Water Quality
Act of 1965 were the first legislations
-the 1972 Federal Water Pollution (now called 1972 Clean Water Act) required that all states set water
quality standards and provided some financial assistance
-major goals were to eliminate the discharge of water pollutants, restore water, and eliminate toxic
pollutants
-the three goals are yet to be achieved
-two major components of the CWA impact cities directly:
title II: with federal financial assistance many cities were able to upgrade plants
title VI: which applied to mainly to industrial and municipal discharge resulted in
monitoring and management programs for point source population
-decreased in industrial point pollution
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Assessing the CWA
-oxygen levels in many lakes have recovered due to the filtering out of organic wastes
-some pollutants have declines, but others are still increasing
-Lake Erie, once dead has recovered
-in some cities, beach closures have increased in places where the combined sewers are older and
inadequate for the population
-the total releases of toxic pollutants (especially mercury) have decreased but still remain in more
than 47 states
-the mixed results reflect several factors:
new technologies impact on our abilities to measure pollution in smaller and smaller
amounts
knowledge of the impact of pollution on human health and environmental heath is improving
the EPA is focused on regulated discharges at the source of the polluter rather than focusing
on ways to encourage front end controls
-in 2000, the EPA established a set of federal policies for reducing urban storm runoff and to help
smaller cities develop wastewater treatment facilities
Article: The Legacy of the Cuyahoga River Fire
-a fire filled the river with kerosene and other flammable material
-the Cuyahoga became the symbol of urban water pollution
-the burning river mobilized the nation and became a rallying point for the Clean Water Act
-the fire was not evidence of nationally declining water quality
-as societies became wealthier, societies placed greater importance on environmental protection
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