Two hundred years ago, before the Industrial Revolution, the rivers across North America ran clear and blue. Rivers from the mighty Mississippi to the Columbia flowed wild and clean into the sea.

In the 1800s and 1900s, the growth of manufacturing and agriculture across the continent brought prosperity to America, but at the great cost of unmitigated pollution. In 1969, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught fire due to toxic runoff from nearby factories. This incident sparked the modern Earth Day movement and in 1972 helped pass the Clean Water Act, which established much-needed industrial regulations that considerably improved water quality in…

John W. Roulac

John is the founder of RE Botanicals and Nutiva, and 5 ecological nonprofit groups. He's written 4 books and co-producer of the film Kiss the Ground.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store