David B. Cohen

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Throughout the nation’s history, few resources have been considered as ubiquitous as water. The issue of who controls the use of water, however, has seldom been straight forward. This was no less true in the Progressive Era, when many growing urban areas significantly altered their water infrastructure to meet increased demands. When debate arose over water use, these municipalities often relied on the relatively new authority of scientific knowledge, particularly in the area of public health and safety. In this article, the author describes how the Portland Water District was able to conserve Sebago Lake’s Lower Bay as a clean, reliable source of drinking water for Portland, Maine. A native of Portland, the author is a graduate of Brown University, where he earned his A.B. in history and geology-biology. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate and Irving and Rose Crown Fellow at Brandeis University, where he studies North American environmental history.