To conserve watercourses means to retain these resources in their natural condition, or in that condition which gives the greatest safety and utility to man. The pollution of a water-supply is as unnecessary as the wanton butchering of wild animals or the reckless destruction of a forest; in either case the resource is partially or wholly obliterated, and the waste tends to destroy the available livelihood and comforts of the people. A polluted watercourse is not a natural stream.
Municipalities are not the only factors which are accountable for the pollution of public water-supplies. The influence of small villages, individual homes and factories on stream contamination needs more attention. The cities with more people and factories to a given area produce more pollution than the towns with their more numerous cesspools, yet the bacterial contamination is apt to be relatively less with a city, owing to the bactericidal activity
WOOD HB. THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF PROTECTING THE WATER-SUPPLIES. JAMA. 1909;LIII(14):1093–1098. doi:10.1001/jama.1909.92550140004002f
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