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National Educational radio presents the following program in cooperation with a group w o the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company and I literally every year we try to put on some little display to try to show that we are interested in cleaning up the Potomac. The time a river is a historic river but right now it's and I saw that voice belongs to Carl Wellman a yachtsman and boat broker for the Washington D.C. Marina. His sentiments about the river that flows sluggishly through and sometimes over our capital city were echoed by local boat owners and conservationists. The story of what the boat owners of Washington D.C. did to be one force in cleaning up their river is the hopeful story of water pollution and death knell the country over. The Westinghouse Broadcasting Company presents the pollution explosion. A 10 part study of the rising tide of air and water pollution in America.
Your commentator John Daly It has been pointed out over and over again that the individual citizen holds the key to ending air and water pollution. Only his anger and his willingness to fight the forces of pollution can win the war. In Los Angeles in New York City citizen groups were instrumental in motivating strong air pollution control laws. And in Washington D.C. on a bright May day in 1965 they banded together and dramatized the Potomac and their plight. R.J. stickle president of the Washington Marina recalls that day they walked along the shoreline and put debris and trash and wood in bags which. In turn were picked up by trucks and disposed of and the debris that was brought in out of the water was taken to common points in the river and loaded
on barges which were then taken to the Anacostia Naval Base where they were burned. And by doing this it did help to eliminate an awful lot of the debris that floats on and on the shores with the high tides and off again when the next time Carlos Wellman was also involved that day. We had a parade a bell. Saying that you know we were close to the signs could be easily read. And. Just to try to get the general. Gist of the program to look in public so that they too would you know. Try to participate in give us a hand in trying to clean up a time when the boat owners were able to get more than just advertising the city promised them a scavenger boat to pick up debris regularly and efforts are being
intensified to do something about the constant silt which often blocks the river channel. But the Potomac River is more than just a small boat haven. It is the only waterfront recreational area that many Washingtonians have. It supplies water for drinking and irrigation. And on its banks stand many of our greatest national shrine. In 1965 President Johnson appointed a task force on the Potomac to take over many of the functions of a longstanding effectually interstate Committee and the new administration has made some noticeable improvement says my Restylane chief enforcement officer of the federal water pollution control administration. I think anyone who has lived here for a lot of conservatives ever they remember are now everywhere in the red. We have caught have higher hoods for anyone coming in contact with the autos
picnicking along and I think we have a habitat for fish in the area and there have been indications that the raw fish are coming back. I think that has been a problem in the Potomac water. The city of Washington which has been discharging untreated are only partially treated waste directly into the river for decades has responded in recent years to the new pressures. According to Mr. Stein very very improved sewage treatment plant by a private secondary treatment. They acquired netting during the recreation season. And they were then. Seventy five million dollar intercept between the Blue Plains plant and Chain Bridge along the Potomac River which would remain in operation this year or the next and
addition to that at 22 and a half million dollar intercept to control drainage from Dulles Airport on down has been constructed and this should materially improve the quality of the Potomac River when they go into full operation. Perhaps next year. How long will it take to clean up the Potomac. Federal officials will set no time limit. However a former task force head Keith Kraus States firmly. I would hope to see the day when I personally could go look at the Potomac or sail on the Potomac or so. Swim in the Potomac if I wish to do so. Present time. Friday night and I don't want to sleep. Another of the many national scandals created by water pollution is the sad condition of the Great Lakes especially that of Lake Erie. As secretary of the interior Stuart you doall says it was only a few years ago before I had the full responsibility for the cleanup of the water the country
that I want rather gingerly suggested that lake area was dying and everyone's mayors and others rushed up to me after the meeting and said You can't say that this will frighten people and it will threaten the economic future of our region. Well I think that's generally recognized now by everyone involved that unless we reverse the process of what's happening that Lake Erie will be the first great lake perhaps in the world to become lifeless. I think that we can if we act in time prevent that from happening. But there's no question that the level of pollution that has been reached that we are diminishing the life giving values of like Kerry every day the plight of the Great Lakes is not newly realized. The states bordering the lakes have tried both separately and interstate compacts to stop pollution but the problem was just too vast. For example five states and Canada are involved with the Lake Erie action. Obviously a case
for national indeed international jurisdiction. In 1965 the federal government under the terms of the Water Quality Act of 1965 brought action against the polluters of Lake Erie explains H.W. Poston regional director of the federal water pollution control administration in Chicago. We were in the conference stage now we have sat around the conference table and met with the state agency state water pollution agencies and as a result of this we did adopt a time scale for abatement and we sometimes get calls for complete completion treatment works by 1970. The great lakes Lake Erie is included in the
treatment order. The industries are also included in this order and the must provide treatment for their weight. This includes wide variety of industries the paper industry the steel industry and he's been down around the conference table without court action with and with agreement by all parties who are concerned according to my race dine chief enforcement officer for the F W PCa. The Lake Michigan enforcement action is the foggiest along. We have concluded the con for the lower end of life measured side of theri district in Chicago. The federal government and the states of Illinois and Indiana we better have a stablished a program which rules right. Much if it were to be for the
maximum number of water use pollution to be minimal that's the industry. Chicago is already on the program and this program is proceeding and the satisfactory manner I think we have an specific law and a way to do it and we're going to have. And I write for the less polluted lakes action now will ensure their continued use for recreation and water supply. But for Lake Erie now almost a biological desert. It may be 50 years before the lake is restored to anything vaguely resembling its form of purity. We at the district must take the initiative. If we're going to demand
industry of other municipalities to do that which we're talking about that which we're striving for well then we must take the initiative and be first in doing it. That was Frank Cesaro president of the Chicago Sanitary district and Chicago and old city situated on the edge of Lake Michigan has made good Mr. Chester those words. Many industries in the Chicago area contribute to Lake Michigan's pollution problem. But Chicago itself and the surrounding municipalities do not. The reason for this is the masterful engineering feat of reversing the flow of the Chicago River. Done many years ago when the sanitary district was first legislated into existence. Frank just wrote recalls the details that you cobble river flowed into Lake Michigan and in order to bring about its repression all channels were
built by man. This was necessary because our waters through sewage and pollution were going into Lake Michigan and polluting its source of drinking water. In times of great rainfall however to prevent flooding Chicago has to open the flood gates and allow the combined sewer overflow to follow its natural cause into Lake Michigan. A situation which leaves this city like its less advanced system is still desperately in need of a separate sewer system. However under normal conditions Chicago wastes receive full secondary treatment. The Chicago Sanitary district with federal money and research aiding it is looking ahead to a more advanced sewage disposal methods. Fishery or almost complete treatment is planned shortly. A research laboratory in staff has been added
to the district and a study is underway to determine the feasibility of storing storm water overflow in great underground reservoirs then pumping it to the Sophist during dry times for harmless runoff. Like a cloud hovering over all current and contemplated disposal plans runs the fear of further pollution of Lake Michigan. Chicago the bordering states and the federal government now share an equal determination to cleanse and preserve not just Lake Michigan but all the great lakes another lake now enters the picture one which most Americans still consider pristine and untouched. Lake Tahoe like tall is without question one of the world's most beautiful lakes. Secretary of the interior you'll go but of course any lake located in. At a high altitude a mile high or more is very fragile ecology is fragile and it doesn't take much pollution to
diminish the beauty of such a lake and to limit its usefulness to man and this is the reason that all of us in this country have been particularly concerned about like tall home because if we can't save like tall hole and keep it available for man's full use and enjoyment we will probably lose the other less magnificent lakes. It would be a great shame to see one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire country ruined by man's short sightedness and by his unwillingness to plan and take what steps are necessary to conserve it. Lake Tahoe lies two of thirds in California and one third in Nevada. A classic example of the necessity for interstate cooperation. In 1965 under pressure from the federal government and interested conservationists both the California and Nevada legislatures passed bills providing for a joint top post Study Commission and with the federal government enforcement order
hanging over their heads. Progress is being made. But it hasn't been easy politically as Senator Allen Bible of Nevada explains. Lake Tahoe is a legislator's nightmare. It's a difficult and parsing problem you must bear in mind that like our lives two thirds in California one third in on the California side you have two counties involved with the various political subdivisions within those two counties in the state of Nevada who have three counties involved with many political subdivisions within the state of Nevada. So it's a very fragmented problem. What exactly was accomplished by the study commission. Yeah Frank Hampstead the chief of the environmental sanitation division. California State Health Department who took part in the study of standards for Lake Tahoe and the thing about that. Developed a method of identifying what the
natural power of the water in Lake Powell is and still is unaffected. Open the center of the lake area is. In a state of nature. Backup information as document brought to light information indicating that it is possible to identify. What this original. Natural follow like hole was before any appreciable impact went about. This then becomes the standard for like whole and the areas where to some degree has been the. Standard cause for a restoration of this quality. I was interesting to note that these natural standards differ from the standards that have been adopted almost universally in the United
States here to far up until the standards have attempted to identify Elavil. Of degradation. Which will not interfere with beneficial use of that like power we have identified the original quality of the lake. Drinking water standards and have established bacteriological and chemical and physical standards. Of those that could be asked for. On the basis of degradation to an infringement of a point of years. And the reason for the US is almost exclusively that we wish to maintain the unique characteristics of toher with respect to its. Phenomenal clarity. Consequently one type of standard which has never before been introduced.
In a lot of qualities diners in this country was introduced namely a biologic growth per control and every pound and discharge of any material into this lake will be tested against the potential for that material mixed with lake water to support the growth of Audi. These standards were actually set under the provisions of the federal Water Quality Act of 1965 which requires the states to set acceptable standards on all interstate waters by June 30th 1967. As an offshoot of the study commission the decision was also made to export all domestic waste out of the Tahoe basin until it becomes technologically feasible to purify it completely and then allow it to discharge harmlessly into the lake. This project will be very expensive and
will be supported by federal money remaining still in the tonneau situation is perhaps the most difficult process coordination of the enforcement procedures so as not to step on any politically sensitive county and state toes obvious however is this maxim Lake Tahoe is too valuable to be sacrificed to political squabbling. It will be saved and all the local entities must cooperate or face complete federal intervention. Since the mid 50s the federal government has been the motivating force behind the anti pollution war. Yet the national government itself is one of the oft accused polluters of our waters. The federal contribution to the total pollution load is small. But most congressmen feel that federal installations notably the military must clean their own houses. Accordingly a presidential directive was issued last summer ordering the federal establishment to clean
up but argues Congressman John Dingell of Michigan there is a need to force more rigorous action by the federal government terms of completing the clean up of its own pollution. It was found that there were many thousands and hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated partially treated poorly treated inadequately treated sewage and waste going into our waters from federal installations and we haven't quite clean this up yet. As a matter of fact with the tight budget problem that we have we've we're now suffering some setbacks in this area. Alvin my chairman of the Department of Defense's pollution control committee takes exception to the charge of military pollution in many areas claims the kernal treatment plants were built on a base when the local municipalities were still ignoring the problem. The charge that we haven't really been paying attention to this is not true. And. We have their locations.
Which up until several years ago. Policy was that. We did not feel it was proper to spend taxpayers money. To install waste treatment when on that same strain there were literally hundreds of smaller and several large communities which were doing nothing. Now a search may be under the Presidential Directive. The military is moving toward complete cleanup in a typically military fashion in accordance with the executive order we have developed a quote phased and orderly plan in quote for the solution of these problems and we've submitted this to the Bureau of the budget is directed by the president. We feel sure because of the interest in this that these budgetary requirements will be carefully assessed by the Bureau the budget and the federal water pollution control of ministration and that they will reflect a national plan does not mean then at every installation in the United States own by the federal
government will automatically next year wind up having the necessary improvements to its waste abatement facilities. Another thing that has to be kept in mind. Is that under the amendments to the federal water pollution control act the states have almost another year before determining what their standards for their streams are. Obviously some of our installations which were deemed adequate better by the states and the federal water pollution control agency today may not be adequate under the new quality criteria issued by the state and so we're going to have to reprogram that. We also know that we have a number of installations in which their facilities or other equipment and plants are beginning to deteriorate and we've having a problem. And again we're doing this in a phased and orderly plan over a
five to seven year period because we want to do this thing in a really scientific and professional manner. Echoes of plague don't just expect people to rush down. We're less than concrete and 12 months later the problem is solved. Oh well may not be one of the basic problems with federal installations has been that they have been independent of state and local authorities and jurisdiction now says Colonel Mayo quoting from the new Defense Department order on pollution abatement. That situation is over but this directive requires that all the power defense components now comply with public standards and crack terror related to pollution abatement of federal agencies as a promulgate and by the better want to pollution control agency of the department of public health education welfare state local agencies one branch of the military which has done a great deal to control
water pollution. Is the Army Corps of Engineers. By what seems today like a mere congressional whim the Corps of Engineers was instructed in eighteen hundred eighty eight to keep the waters of the ports of New York City Baltimore and Norfolk clear for all navigation the law has never been changed and so today the cost functions as a police unit in those three harbor areas only through the years the materials harmful to navigation have grown to include most of the chemicals and oils that industry discharges investigative boats and helicopters patrolled the harbor shoreline is continuously looking for violations tracing them to their sauce and issuing immediate cease and desist orders. Going to buy me because of my. Speaking is Howard lampost chief of The New York City harbor supervisor branch of the call describing an actual violation hunt.
As the boat went father along and violation was spotted She describes the proceedings the investigators have now found and they traced it up to one of the breaks they had which is being reprocessed and they would take samples and then they will notify them when they go along and they will have to do something about it. And so an arm of the federal government set up originally to keep the waters clear of floating objects for navigational safety has become one of the most effective pollution agencies we have. In other cities and states there is a new will to make water pollution control progress but naturally
the biggest problem for sheer size is in New York City a prime contributor to the Hudson River is felt nearing completion. Several large planes which with full secondary treatment will remove most of the thousands of tons of nearly rolled waste discharge by our largest city New York City has other problems however antiquated water mains leaky reservoirs and a general mismanagement and misuse of existing clean water giving rise to the city's notorious water shortage of 965. Other cities are in somewhat similar situations and the answer is obvious very substantial federal funds and federal help and research are going to be necessary if real progress is to be made but in the end there will be no solution unless the people the cities and the states are willing to work and sacrifice to get the job done.
The Westinghouse Broadcasting Company has presented the pollution explosion a 10 part study of the increasing pollution of America's air and water. The series was produced by Robert Franklin written and recorded by Stephanie Shelton executive producer William J kaila. Here again John Daly. In 1968 all of us will pay $65 maw for a new car because of air pollution. Is this expenditure really necessary. You want to be able to contribute so heavily polluted air the next program will investigate the automobile including the California laws which pioneered in its control and them interesting alternatives to its internal combustion engine. The NE our network has presented this program in cooperation with a group w o the Westinghouse
Broadcasting Company. This is the national education or radio network.
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Pollution explosion
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Westinghouse Broadcasting Company
Group W Productions
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents a variety of speeches, music clips, and commentary to analyze the pollution problem in the United States.
Series Description
A discussion of environment-related issues.
Media type
Host: Daly, John Charles, 1914-1991
Producing Organization: Westinghouse Broadcasting Company
Producing Organization: Group W Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-8-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:04
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Chicago: “Pollution explosion; 4,” 1967-12-28, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Pollution explosion; 4.” 1967-12-28. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Pollution explosion; 4. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from