MPCA credits 1972 law for cleaning waters

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sings praises of the federal Clean Water Act, passed in 1972.

The MPCA reminded Minnesotans that an Ohio river fouled with contaminants and inadequately treated wastes caught fire in 1969, inspiring politicians to pass the legislation. And, PCA officials said, no American river has burned since.

Still, they said, work remains.

“Existing water-borne pollutants are no less dramatic, and potentially more harmful, to our environment,” MPCA toxicologist Laura Solem said. “The need to protect our water resources is even more important today than in 1969.”

Most of the 50 million chemicals known today were created during the past 40 years, she said, and 500 new chemicals appear every year.

“Citizens recognized in 1969 that the Cuyahoga River, and by extension all of America’s waters, could not handle the volume of pollution our pipes were dumping into them,” Solem said. “Now, it’s often the pollution we can’t see that we have to be concerned about.”

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