Water Resources Planning and Public Health: 1776-1976

by Leonard B. Dworsky, (M.ASCE), Prof.; School of Civ. and Environmental Engrg., Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.,
Bernard B. Berger, (F.ASCE), Prof.; Civ. Engrg.; Dir., Water Resources Research Center, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division, 1979, Vol. 105, Issue 1, Pg. 133-149

Document Type: Journal Paper


Planning for water use and management extends from the earliest cultures of agriculture and water navigation to twentieth century energy development. Within this historical framework, the nature of the relationship of water resources and public health provides an important mirror to the character of human civilization over time. In overview terms, this paper describes man's concern for the water environment from historical and scientific perspectives. Early institutions to manage the public health aspects of water resources; the impact of sanitary engineering on urbanization; and the rise of modern environmental engineering in relation to controlling water pollution are considered. The paper examines a number of specific elements illustrating the substantial impact that public health interests have had on water resources planning in the United States. Beyond usual drinking water supply and pollution control matters, the paper touches upon public safety, insect-borne disease control, institutional change, and issues associated with broad based multipurpose water resource development planning.

Subject Headings: Water pollution | Water resources | Public health and safety | Sanitary engineering | Water use | Irrigation water | Navigation (waterway) | Hydro power | United States

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