Cuyahoga River brimming with recreation, wildlife 49 years after disastrous fire

Cuyahoga River brimming with recreation, wildlife 49 years after disastrous fire
The Cuyahoga River is flowing well 49 years after the disastrous fire.

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It was a sight that would seem unimaginable now, a river running through a major American city, burning. But that was the reality 49 years ago, on June 22, The Cuyahoga River, polluted, was burning.

Much has changed, for the better, "So the fact that the last fire was 49 years ago and we haven't had a fire since is pretty good evidence that what works, works," says Jane Goodman the executive director of the Cuyahoga River Restoration.

The fire on the river is believed to have been a significant factor in pushing the U.S. Congress to pass the Clean Water Act, "The world changed and that changed the river," Goodman said.

It's taken hard work and a commitment from thousands of people, and the co-operation of the industries that line the river. That and a massive investment from the Northeast Regional Sewer District.

"The sewer district invested $4 billion in sewer infrastructure but we need to continue that investment and we are." said Jean Smith the manager of community relations at the Sewer District.

While the river has improved considerably there is no question that there is still plenty of work to do. But the proof that there has been significant improvement is the recreational activity on the river, including plenty of fish to catch.

"We have dozens of species in the river, we have prey species and predator species, we have pollution sensitive fish and we only used to have pollution tolerant fish," Goodman said.

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