Facing Up To Freshwater Pollution

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Facing Up To Freshwater Pollution


Introduction


THE STATE OF FRESHWATER IN NIGERIA resembles A Tale of Two Cities. It is the best of times in that, in the latter portion of the 20th century, we reversed the general disregard for water bodies. Our nation rallied in the face of flammable rivers, water bodies used as dumps for industrial waste and municipal sewage, and wetland losses of approximately 450,000 acres per year.

Waterways are significantly healthier today because a previous generation of leaders had the vision and commitment to insist upon it. But it is the worst of times in that progress today has essentially plateaued far short of the national goal, stated in the very first section of the 1974 Clean Water Act, of having fishable and swimmable waters. The law’s goal of eliminating pollution discharges has, moreover, been reduced to a fantasy of a bygone era.

There are numerous, ominous signs of complacency. The U.S. continues to rely upon technologies developed decades ago, or, in the case of wastewater treatment, almost 100 years ago. We have let our sewer systems fall into disrepair, allowing raw and partially treated sewage to flow into waterways because it never reaches the plant for treatment. At our current rate of investment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has projected that sewage pollution will be as high in 2025 as it was in 1968, before the passage of the Clean Water Act.


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