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Chapter Four: Waste Water, Want Water


We were shown the way to stop polluting our water in 1969. One man showed us how to do it, so convincingly that in 1972 the US Congress passed, and President Richard Nixon signed, legislation embodying the solution and confidently proclaiming as a national goal that the discharge of all pollutants into the waters of the United States would cease by 1985. It was no pipe dream. It was reasonable to expect, based on what that one man showed us, that we could with little effort and with substantial additional benefits stop polluting our water. Period. 

The story of how the solution was presented to us, and how the people who run our country refused it, embodies every aspect of our imminent ruination: the wretched excesses of our prosperity; the ingenuity of which we are capable in devising ways to live more lightly on the land; and the brute power of greed to extinguish ingenuity in order to perpetuate profits.