Normal and polluted waters in northeastern United States

Water Supply Paper 79




In order to properly determine the water resources of a country, and to define the limitations of use which apply to various rivers, it becomes necessary to know the character of the water in' each case. Water is a source of wealth by reason of the uses to which it may be put, and these are dependent to a large extent upon the nature of the water. It follows, then, that for each branch of water utilization there is established a standard to which water must reasonably conform, in order that it may properly fulfill the requirements of the particular case.

By reason of their physical features and their artificial development, different rivers may possess characteristics which make them very different in their form or kind of utility. Sewage pollution may destroy every resource of one river, yet may not sensibly affect the value of another. One stream may be highly useful as a source of power; another may be best utilized primarily as a commercial highway; still another may serve as a source of water supply. There are waters which are more valuable as a disposal area for manufacturing refuse than they would be if maintained unpolluted as fishing grounds or ice fields. Therefore a thorough hydrographic investigation should serve to indicate the peculiar uses to which a stream is best applicable, and by it we should be able to determine the normal resource in each case and the damage done by unwise or unlawful procedure. Of especial importance is the fact that the utilization of a river in one State may be so damaging to its purity that the people of another State through which the same river flows may be totally deprived of its use, and, under present conditions, with little if any opportunity for redress.

Let us glance briefly at the characteristics that are demanded of waters required for different uses.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Normal and polluted waters in northeastern United States
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
192 p.