The Urgent Water Pollution Problem in the 21st Century

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Staying hydrated by filling up water bottle in Union Square Park on a sweltering day in June. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Randy Newman captured a moment of national anger in "Burn On," a song about the polluted Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969. That environmental disaster pushed Congress and the Nixon administration to create the Environmental Protection Agency and pass laws like the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. But today's guest warns that these laws are woefully outdated, and that clean water is becoming increasingly scarce. Access to freshwater, he argues, is the most urgent problem we face in the twenty-first century.

Alex Prud'homme is the author of "The Ripple Effect." He joins us in the studio.


Alex Prud'homme

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [3]


Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic however ,
I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a
blog post or vice-versa? My website goes over a lot
of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit
from each other. If you happen to be interested feel
free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!
Great blog by the way!

Mar. 07 2013 12:02 PM
Peter Maier from Utah, USA

There was nothing wrong with the laws, the problems lies with how laws are implemented. EPA failed to implement the CWA due to a faulty applied test and as one of its many consequences ignored 60% of the pollution Congress intended to 'treat'. EPA especially ignored nitrogenous (urine and protein) waste, while this waste besides exerting an oxygen demand, also is a fertilizer for algae, thus contributes to eutrophication resulting in dead zones.
It is understandable that those directly responsible do not want to acknowledge this mistake, but what is disappointing is the fact that the media is not willing to spent a few minutes finding out what is really going on. (

Jun. 23 2011 06:25 PM
Peg from Southern Tier NY

New York State is the headwater source for fresh drinking water for most of the residents from Washington DC to New York City. Millions of US residents rely on our excellent and plentiful water - our MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE!!!! Fresh water is a human necessity and right.

DEMAND stringent Franking regulations for natural gas extraction in New York. Do not let the Republicans dismantle the EPA. Call your local, state and federal representatives and tell them we need an even stronger EPA to help us protect our precious environment.

Jun. 23 2011 07:09 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.