At times we humans excel at creating nasty places to live. Some of the results, like Mike's post on the color of water from rivers and lakes in China, are almost unbelievable. There has been a rush of pictures in the past few months of the cleanest and dirtiest cities on Earth. The dirtiest cities list is based on the list generated by the Blacksmith Institute, you can find out more by reading website, or just listen to their director on treehugger radio. The cleanest cities were compiled by Mercer Human Resources Consulting. But, beyond looking at the extremes, most of us live somewhere in the middle. Inspired by the 1000 places to see before you die travel book, maybe we can compile a list dirty places that are now clean - and how they got that way. To see how many people have these stories, just post a quick comment. I'll start below the fold.
Seattle's Lake Washington has gone from devilishly dirty, to a crown of the city. From HistoryLink-
"On October 1, 1958, Metro Council, formed to clean up Lake Washington and reduce water pollution in King County, holds its first meeting. At the time, 14 towns and cities in King County discharge 20 million gallons of inadequately treated sewage into Lake Washington every day....Metro engineers eventually designed four wastewater-treatment plants, more than 100 miles of large tunnels and interceptor sewers, and dozens of pumping stations. This took nine years and $140 million. Metro also took over the publicly owned treatment works that were discharging into Lake Washington and connected them with treatment plants on Puget Sound.
In 1966 the visibility in Lake Washington was less than 2 feet, after the last treatment plant was finished visibility increased to 9 feet. By 1993 visibility was 25 feet.
Tellingly, this is an example where the citizens demanded a change in the system, and the system changed- enough.
In 1994, Metro was folded into King County as the result of a court decision that held that the metropolitan municipal corporation was unconstitutional.