Fire on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland 35 years ago has become an enduring symbol of water pollution in America.  But according to a recent paper by Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler, the Cuyahoga was vastly improving well before the fire broke out.  To begin with, a number of earlier, more intense fires occurred on the Cuyahoga, as well as in Baltimore and Buffalo, in years past, when liquid wastes were not adequately controlled.  But by 1969, fish were reported swimming again in the river, and the famous fire, which broke out chiefly from debris caught in the crooked river’s bend, was out before the local press could arrive to record images of the blaze.

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