By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Love that dirty water redux

Those old enough to remember 60's rock 'n roll (or who were exposed to it by their parents!) will remember the Standells' song about Boston, "Love that Dirty Water" about the Charles River -- which I claimed as my signature song in my blog a while back on rock 'n roll songs for the procurement community.

Sunday's Boston Globe had a picture on the front page and an article in Metro on a swimming race Saturday in the Charles River -- the first time the river has been swimmable for fifty years. The race was blessed by local health officials, who said that swimming was now safe. (When I was an undergrad at Harvard, student row team members who fell into the water were given tetanus shots and placed under medical observation.)

This is partly a story about the galvanizing effect of performance targets and measurement -- then-EPA regional administrator John DeVillers announced in 1995 a goal to make the Charles swimmable by 2005, and, while the goal wasn't quite reached by 2005, it spurred a major cleanup effort.

This is mainly a story to remind us that our environment has gotten significantly better over the last decades. The Charles isn't so dirty anymore. And I remember vividly the first summer I ever spent in Washington, as a political science graduate student in 1972 working on a research project. It seemed like every third day or so the radio would announce a pollution emergency and say that sensitive people should stay indoors entirely. And my lungs actually ached from the air pollution.

Any readers want to share examples of how the environment has gotten cleaner in your memory?

Posted by Steve Kelman on Jul 23, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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