Riverlife PGH has two more of their extreeeeeeemly cute animated videos from its series "Living in a River City" up on youtube.
Dick - and elder gentlemen - tells the story how he went swimming in the Monongahela River when he was young although the water was highly polluted. It was common sense NOT to put the head under water to avoid to contact the dirty, poisenous water with the face.
His story reminds me a lot of my early childhood (the 2nd half of the 70ies). I grew up in a small city at the river Rhine - only a few kilometers from the German rust belt "Ruhrgebiet" placed on the shore of Rhine and Ruhr.
For us kids it was totally forbidden to go anywhere close to the water. One reason was of course that the river is huge and fast and dangerous to swim, but the other reason was that the water was too dirty.
The sewages of the smokestack industries had more or less killed the river. Almost all fishes were gone and the few survivors full of heavy metals.
I even remember that my grandpa working on the boat of his landlord one day accidently fell into the water. It was awful - we had to throw away all his clothes. Cleaning was not possible and he had serious problems with his skin after the accident.
Today things look better as well for Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio River as for Rhine and Ruhr. Lots of the heavy industry is gone and the programs to increase the water quality and to renature the rivers and shores have positive results, but it is the job of all of us to keep the positive development up and little Louise reminds us in her video what we can do to protect our rivers.
If you watch the video look out for the super cute animation of the world record kayak flotilla at the Point!!
If you are interested in more information about Pittsburgh's three rivers and how to protect them, check out this video about the Three Rivers Waterkeeper and learn more about the organization and how to support it on the website.
Just in case you have any doubt how important their work is, read this article about what happened to Ned Mulcahy of the Three Rivers Waterkeeper in spring 2010.
On a lighter note: The Pens soooo need to make it deep into the play offs next year. I would like to come to Pittsburgh as late in spring / as close to the summer as possible, because I soooo want to kayak to the Point like the flotilla in the video! LET'S GO PENS!