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Investigation of milk pasteurizing plants..
Concerning the routine work of the Division as shown by the foregoing table, it may be noted that sections 76 to 84 of the Public Health Law and various provisions of the Town and Village Law place with this Department the general supervision over the design of works for sewerage and sewage disposal and questions of stream pollution. The sections referred to provide that unless a permit for such discharge shall have been issued by the State Commissioner of Health, no sewage or manufacturing wastes shall be discharged into any stream. The law also provides that in case of sewage discharge which creates a nuisance or menace to health the State Commissioner of Health, with the concurrence of the Governor and Attorney-General, may issue an order requiring the discontinuance of such sewage discharge and the construction of proper sewage disposal works. The work carried on under these sections is very important, and, while not constituting the greater part of the entire work of the Division, does embody the bulk of the work specifically required by statute.
In the prosecution of this work during 1917 specific examinations and reports of 150 plans for sewerage and sewage disposal have been made prior to approval of these plans by the Commissioner and in addition general investigations relating to sewerage and sewage disposal have been conducted in several municipalities.
It is obvious that no branch of the work of the Engineering Division is of greater moment in the protection of public health than the work of investigating and supervising the sanitary quality of the public water supply. Following the policy carried out during recent years especial attention has been given to this work in 1917. Five hundred out of a total of 530 public water supplies in the State have now been investigated. Although the number of new supplies investigated in 1917 was only 30, the prosecution of this work involved reinspection of supplies previously inspected and the total number of supplies thus covered was 130.
The full significance of this work of protecting public water supplies was set forth at length in the last annual report of this Department, where it was stated that in 1908, when these investigations were first undertaken, there existed some 400 public water supplies serving a population of 6,200,000 and only 50 of these supplies were receiving any kind of purification treatment, serving a population of approximately 700,000.
At the end of 1917 there exists approximately 530 public water supplies serving a population of about 8,200,000, of which supplies some 110 receive purification, serving a population of 6,800,000. This means that during this decade the population protected by water purification has increased from 700,000 to 6,800,000. In this same period the typhoid fever death rate for the State has decreased from 19.0 in 1906 to 5.6 in 1917, and the greatest factor in the reduction of this typhoid fever mortality has been the increased protection afforded by water purification.
Six sets of “Rules and Regulations for the Protection from Contamination of Public Water Supplies” were enacted during the year by the Commissioner under the provisions of section 70 of the Public Health Law, these rules having been prepared by the Engineering Division following an inspection of the watersheds to which they related.
Many complaints are received each year at the Department regarding public nuisances and cases of stream pollution, and while most of these complaints are referred to local boards of health for suitable action under the powers vested in said boards by the Public Health Law, it is necessary in a large proportion of cases that the complaints be investigated by the Engineering Division, especially where the question of sewerage is involved, or where the public nuisance complained of is one of considerable magnitude, or involves plans which require an engineering examination and a report. During the year about 35 investigations of public nuisance and cases of stream pollution were conducted and recommendations for remedial action made to the local boards of health and to the parties responsible for the nuisance.
One of the new lines of routine work taken up during the year has been the investigation of the efficiency of milk pasteurizing plants. This work has involved a detailed inspection and examination of 148 plants in which milk pasteurizing is carried on. Subsequently recommendations for improvements in the construction, equipment and operation of the plants were made in order that the product might meet the requirements of the Sanitary Code with respect to the bacterial count.
The work of making detailed examinations of the sanitary condition of State institutions was continued in 1917, some 25 institutions being investigated. Reports with recommendations were transmitted to the institution authorities and to the State boards or commissions having general supervision over them.
The work of inspecting the condition and operation of sewage disposal plants has not been prosecuted to the same extent as in recent years owing to the greater necessity of utilizing the services of the engineers of the Division in investigating public water supplies. Some 15 investigations of the condition of operation and efficiency of operation of sewage disposal plants, however, were made as a result of complaints of nuisance in streams or of faulty operation of these plants and recommendations for changes and improvements in the construction and manner of operating the plants made to the local authorities.
An extensive investigation was carried on during the summer and fall of the alleged emission of smoke, gases, fumes and vapors from chemical and other manufacturing plants on the west side of the Hudson river in the borough of Edgewater, N. J., with a view to determining whether such fumes were carried across the river to New York. A further hearing is to be held in this matter for a consideration of the conclusions reached during this investigation.
While the table of routine work given above shows in general a marked increase in the volume of office work in practically every branch of the work listed, the table is by no means complete, nor does it include certain important special investigations which have required a considerable amount of time during the year. The table does not include, for example, the inspection of the sanitary condition of military camps, naval bases and air plane stations and the territory immediately surrounding these camps and stations to which precedence was always given whenever the assistance of the Department was requested by the military authorities for the placing and maintaining of these camps, stations and zones in a
PROGRESS CHART SHOWING VOLUME OF ROUTING WORK OF THE ENGINEERING DIVISION. PLOTTED FROM MONTHLY REPORTS OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER.