Political Waters: The Long, Dirty, Contentious, Incredibly Expensive But Eventually Triumphant History of Boston Harbor--a Unique Environmental Success Story

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2004 - Political Science - 240 pages
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A lively account of the centuries-long struggle to clean up one of the nation's most polluted bodies of water; Boston Harbor has always been America's harbor. It served as a colonial gateway to the world, witnessed the Boston Tea Party, and helped Boston transform itself from an outpost of a few hardy settlers into a bustling metropolis and self-proclaimed hub of the universe. Yet for hundreds of years, Eric Jay Dolin points out, Boston Harbor was also a cesspool. Long before Bostonians dumped tea into the harbor to protest English taxes, they dumped sewage there. As the Boston area grew and prospered, its sewage problems worsened, as did the harbor's health, to the point where in the 1980s it was considered the most polluted harbor in the country and ridiculed as the harbor of shame. history, Boston Harbor was dramatically cleaned up. All it took was two lawsuits, two courts, dozens of lawyers, the creation of a powerful sewage authority, thousands of workers, millions of labor hours, and billions of dollars. Sewage management is rarely as compelling and exciting as higher profile environmental issues such as global climate change, preserving endangered species, or protecting tropical rainforests. But it can be, as Dolin shows in this engaging narrative account. Boston's struggle to deal with its sewage is an epic story of failure and success, replete with colorful characters, political, bureaucratic, and legal twists and turns, engineering feats, and massive amounts of money. In the end, success hinged on the often overlooked yet monumentally important act of responsibly disposing of the waste people produce every day.

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Political Waters: The Long, Dirty, Contentious, Incredibly Expensive, but Eventually Triumphant History of Boston Harbor : A Unique Environmental Success Story

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"Boston Harbor is America's harbor," says environmental author Dolin (Smithsonian Book of National Wildlife Refuges) in this sprightly account of its history and cleanup. This tale of politicians ... Read full review

Selected pages


Dirty Water Clean Water
A Very Stinking Puddle
The Sanitary Awakening
Future Wants of the City
Planning and Reality
From Bad to Worse
The Ultimate Remedy
Enter the Federal Court
A WorldClass Project
How Clean is Clean Enough?
A Note on Sources

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Page 5 - Paffengers; it is a fafe and pleafant Harbour within, having but one common and fafe entrance, and that not very broad, there fcarce being roome for 3. Ships to come in board and board at a time, but being once within, there is roome for the Anchorage of 500. Ships. This Harbour is made by a great company of Hands, whofe high...

About the author (2004)

Eric Jay Dolin is the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America, which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe. It also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for US Maritime History. A graduate of Brown, Yale, and MIT, where he received his PhD in environmental policy, he lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.

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