Water pollution has been around for thousands of years and still exists today. Water pollution had a big boom as the human population started growing in the 1800’s which brought around more diseases that ended up in the water and made a lot of people become very ill and in some cases lead to death. Diseases by the name of Typhoid and Cholera once spread all across Europe due to the contaminated water by humans, animals, and other types of pollution. Written in Cesspools and Cholera: The Development of the Modern Sewer by Joaquin I. Uy, they point out what was happening before and while sewage systems were made. By the 1850’s, Europe and America were both trying to figure out how to keep water clean and safe. For many years people worked hard to get the sewage systems perfected which seemed impossible because they still ran into problems such as pipes overflowing into the streets of Europe and ended up causing a “Stench so foul we may believe had never before ascended to pollute this lower air.” (Uy) By the mid 1850’s, Chicago built one of the first major sewage systems in America. Still, a lot of Americans were encouraged to move into urban areas because there was cleaner water and people there had less diseases to be spread. After more people were moving to the urban areas during the Industrial Revolution, cities across America and Europe were now starting to get pollution from factories due to all the chemicals used in there which caused more water pollution. According to Recovering the Release History of a Pollutant Intrusion into a Water Supply System through a Geostatistical Approach, they discuss water pollution and ways that it can be better prevented. “The quality of water is crucial for health: pollutant elements in water can intoxicate the human body through oral contact (drinking water), inhalation, and skin contact. Unfortunately, water supply systems are not completely protected against contamination events of accidental or intentional nature.” (Butera, 418) This may open some people’s eyes to water pollution more because a lot of people think the only way to get sick from water is by drinking it when all you have to do is have any contact with contaminated water and you can get very sick.
In 1936, Lake Erie had so much pollution in it that it caught on fire due to a spark from a blowtorch and had many more fires after that and it even happened in other areas of water as well. (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/pollution/02history.html) In 1969 another fire in a body of water broke out and was all over the news. The 1969 fire got a lot of attention which led to the Clean Water Act in 1972 which had it’s own rules and regulations of how water we deal with is treated but we are still threatened by water pollution today as you will read on later.