In many ways, the Ohio River is an unsung resource for the region it serves. The Ohio’s near-thousand-mile course flows through Pennsylvania and five other states before emptying into the Mississippi. It’s a source of drinking water for more than five million people. But its long legacy as a “working river” has also made it the most polluted in the country. However, those living along its banks from Pittsburgh to Louisville are now beginning to realize that reimagining their relationship to the river could prove crucial to the region’s future. In our Headwaters series, we explore what exactly this new chapter in the river’s history could look like—and how we can get there. Check back weekly for new stories through December.
Some water quality advocates say getting industrial polluters to pay for farm runoff prevention projects is an innovative way to control water pollution. But critics argue it's just another pay-to-pollute scheme.