May 1, 2001
Center for Business and Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government
On October 22, 1995, the Regional Administrator of EPA's New England office, John DeVillars, proclaimed to the press and all who would listen that the long-contaminated Lower Charles River - running between Cambridge and Boston out to the Boston Harbor - would be clean enough for swimming by 2005. Hooray, river advocates cheered, daring to dream for what had so long seemed impossible. Outrageous, skeptics cried. The sources of contamination to the river were not even known. How could the river be clean enough to swim in within ten years? Five years after the initial announcement, as this paper is being written, DeVillars' promise is becoming reality. By April 2000, the Lower Charles River was clean enough for boating 90 percent of the time, up from 39 percent in 1995. It was safe for swimming 65 percent of the time, compared to 19 percent five years earlier.
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