Water Pollution—Facts and Fantasies

by John M. Henderson, San. Engr. Consultant; Charleston, SC; formerly, Prof. of Sanitary Science, Columbia Univ. School of Public Health, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Journal of the Sanitary Engineering Division, 1972, Vol. 98, Issue 3, Pg. 529-546

Document Type: Journal Paper


Nutrients and other constituents in surface waters are classically considered an essential part of the natural life cycle up to the point of actual net detriment, when they become pollutants. Present regulations require minimum secondary treatment of all industrial wastes and most sewage, regardless of stream use and quality, waste strength and waste and stream flow quantities or ecologic needs. Conversely, most minor tributaries are found undernutrified for farm fish ponds, which require nutrification for adequate fish yield and the same condition is probable in many larger streams. Stream nutrification and pollution from natural runoff and other natural sources are far more important and extensive than piped discharges in the 3,600,000 sq miles of the nation, from an overall standpoint, and are mainly beneficial. Nationwide regulations are derived from pollution problems related mainly to the 75% of the population located in 2% of the land area. As an index of selective population change and industrial development, 39% of all counties in 92% of the States declined in population during 1960-70.

Subject Headings: Water pollution | Recycling | Waste treatment | Rivers and streams | Fish management | Soil pollution | Nutrients | Surface water

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