Everyone knows the outcome of this story. The Grasshopper had to face harsh reality. And there was no turning back the clock to undue the damage.
Many saw my post about the sad fate of our Joppa Flats. Our celebrated clamming area was a famous local industry providing many jobs but now lies fallow and untapped due to a loophole in the Clean Water Act (i.e. the Pollution-control Act!)
It was rather disingenuous of our mayor* to criticize the other towns and cities with sewer plants. All of them including Newburyport regularly release sewage into the river. It only takes an extreme thing like a 100-year storm or a hurricane/tropical storm to make us realize the harsh reality. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 and here we are 39 years later and still we see sewage dumped into our rivers!
We have Transition Newburyport (a rather new organization) recently crying about this problem. I wish they had been around when the City made the foolhardy choice not to become an “A” class sewage plant which would have made them able to take care of excess inflow. An infusion of irritated faces at the commission’s regular meetings would have soon translated into a more secure future.
Instead, all of us grasshoppers are stuck with a brown river, closed beaches and a host of irritated locals and visitors. I was walking the festival the last two days and people were standing about conversing and on everyone’s lips was the query, “What’s with the river?” When I told those who asked me about how the Clean Water Act ISN’T a Clean Water Act they’re jaws literally dropped in shock.
Some smart politicians came up with a real winner of a name for this legislation back in the 70’s.
Unfortunately, it’s made us all losers here in the 21st century.
PS. I wasn’t born yesterday and I remember all the good that the Clean Water Act did for America. Lake Erie used to have a 30-yard wide sludge around its shores and our rivers were often brown all the time. I am just sad that here in the 21st century we can’t seem to actually reach the goal of clean water!
* We can blame John Moak, Brenden O’Regan and the entire Sewer Commission for failing to take a visionary path. At least under Mayor Holaday’s watch, a comprehensive storm water mitigation plan was sponsored by Councilor Connell and nearly unanimously passed by the city councilors. It’s goal is to relieve the pressure on the sewer plant allowing for far fewer releases of untreated sewage into the river.