I like to say that rivers are the lifeblood of the landscape.
Here in Connecticut, as in so much of the developed world, we haven’t always treated them well, lifeblood or not.
The Farmington River is among many in Connecticut that were burdened with pollution into the 1960s. With a major cleanup effort, the river by the mid-1970s was far cleaner. Today it is an enormously popular recreational river, heavily used by canoeists, kayakers, tubers, and anglers.
We have fouled them with human and industrial wastes. We have deforested their watersheds, with huge impacts as sediments were washed from cleared land. We constructed dams on practically every brook, stream and river of any size in Connecticut – literally thousands of them – choking them. We’ve introduced so many fish species into Connecticut waters that stream fauna is forever changed, often for the worse.
I’ve written a longish piece for The Hartford Courant that takes a look at the history of rivers in Connecticut. Beginning in the late 1960s we began to clean up our rivers, with substantial success in reducing sewage and industrial pollution. Many rivers once filthy are now clean enough for swimming, fishing and boating.
But big problems remain, including runoff pollution from streets, driveways and parking lots. The job is not done.
Here is a link to the story: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/courant-250/moments-in-history/hc-250-rivers-connecticut-20140719,0,7527600.story