1933 - 1997
An engineer who believed science must serve people; a citizen who believed one person could make a difference, and did.
The Potomac River in the 1960's was one of the most polluted waterways in the country. The major source of Potomac River pollution was sewage from the growing population of the Washington Metro area. Other vital waterways of Northern Virginia and the entire Commonwealth suffered from similar pollution. Today, Pohick Bay, the Potomac River, the Occoquan River and many other waterways of the Commonwealth demonstrated dramatic improvement in water quality. These waters are now favorite places to enjoy nature and water activities, and they provide safe water supplies for Virginia's citizens.
Credit for this transformation goes one man whose expertise, persistence and political skills forced the issue upon the public until results were achieved. Noman Monroe Cole, Jr., was the undisputed leader of efforts to achieve what presidents and others had failed to do: rid the Potomac and the waters of Virginia of serious pollution. Serving as Chairman of the Virginia State Water Control Board from 1971 to 1975, by his leadership he convinced the public and political leaders that technology could achieve clean water at an affordable price to everyone's benefit. He believed that an informed public caring about environmental concerns could make a difference. He achieved consensus between government and citizen leaders to assume the great challenge of cleaning our waters. He demanded and received cooperation from federal, state and local officials, always testing solutions with pragmatism, dedication and commitment to achieving results. His legacy reflects his love of our waters, his love of nature and his belief that science should a and must serve mankind.
His courage, vision and integrity inspired all to recognize that one person can make a difference. He always answered when called to difficult tasks. His accomplishments ensure a clean environment today and challenge all citizens to maintain and continue to improve the environmental legacy to future generations.