Page images

Objectionable conditions are also created by the discharge of gases and vapors from two other of the processes of manufacture, namely the boiling of a product in soda ash and the addition of hydrochloric acid. It would appear, however, that the gases generated by the boiling of the product in soda ash can in all probability, be eliminated and that although it may be difficult it should not be impossible to eliminate also the gases generated from the addition of hydrochloric acid.

In view of the foregoing conclusions I would recommend, therefore, that copies of this report be sent to the local Board of Health and to the Commonwealth Chemical Corporation and that this corporation be notified to take such immediate steps as may be necessary to prevent the escape of gases and odors from their chemical plant at Newark. If effective steps are not taken by this corporation to permanently prevent the escape of gases and odors more particularly the hydrochloric acid and the chlorine gases from their works, I would further recommend that action be taken by you under the Public Health Law to enforce these requirements.

Respectfully submitted,


Chief Engineer

Copies of this report were sent to the local board of health and to the Commonwealth Chemical Corporation, urging that immediate action be taken to rectify the objectionable conditions.


HERMANN M. BIGGS, M.D., State Commissioner of Health:

I beg to report as follows on an investigation of insanitary conditions in the village of Seneca Falls, Seneca county, arising from the raising of the canal level through the village in the construction of the Barge canal. The inspection was made on April 18 by Mr. H. B. Cleveland, principal assistant engineer in this Department. Mr. Cleveland was accompanied on the inspection by Village President Wessell, Senior Assistant Engineer Smith of the Barge canal office, Village Engineer Sidney S. Smith, Dr. Robert Knight, health officer, and Village Clerk Combs.

The matter was first brought to the attention of this Department on March 7, 1917, in a communication from the village clerk, Mr. Charles W. Combs, transmitting the following resolution adopted by the village board of health on March 5.

Whereas, The State of New York in constructing the improved Cayuga and Seneca canal through this village has caused a large pool to form in the area bounded by West Bayard, Center and Ovid streets; and

Whereas, Said pool is stagnant and gives forth offensive odors and has been and will be a menace to public health; and

Whereas, The water from this pool finds its way into the sanitary sewer system of the village at a considerable damage and detriment thereto, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of this board that the State should fill in this area as was originally planned and that the clerk be and he hereby is instructed to forward a copy of this resolution to the state engineer and the chief engineer of the division of sanitary engineers at Albany,

N. Y. The matter was also referred to the Department on March 7 by Dr. F. W. Sears, sanitary supervisor, who had received a communication in reference to this question from Dr. Robert Knight, health officer of the village, in which it was stated that the pond created by the Barge canal construction was leaking into the sewers and interfering with the proper drainage of the village. Dr. Sears stated that the village authorities thought the State should look after the matter.

The question of remedial action was thereafter referred by this Department to the Hon. W. W. Wotherspoon, State Superintendent of Public Works, on the ground that jurisdiction in the case was lodged with him, and he was asked to take such measures as were within his power to correct the conditions complained of if after investigation the facts were found to be as stated.

On April 9, a commụnication was received from Chief Clerk R. G. Finch of the State Engineer's office referring to the resolution passed by the board of health of the village and appearing above and stating that as a result of an examination by the State Engineer's Department, it would appear that the slope along a small section of the pool impounded by the Barge canal construction is very flat so that fluctuations of pool level for about 1 foot will expose a strip of land having a width of about 20 feet. It was further stated in this communication that the condition described would be remedied by depositing material in the location, thus providing a steeper slope, but that to fill in the entire area in question would involve the handling of approximately 50,000 cubic yards of material at heavy expenditure.

In this communication it was stated that, before any report was made by the State Engineer's office to the Superintendent of Public Works on the question involved, or taking the necessary steps to perform any work of the nature suggested in the resolution of the local board of health, the State Engineer desired to obtain from this Department an expression of opinion as to whether or not this Department considered that an insanitary condition exists due to the construction of the Barge canal, and if so, what recommendations would be made by th'is Department as to the proper methods to be pursued in abating the nuisance.

Seneca Falls is an incorporated village in the northeasterly portion of Seneca county lying about 2 miles westerly from the northerly end of Cayuga lake. The village is situated on Seneca river, the outlet of Seneca lake, and is 3 miles east of Waterloo and 10 miles east of the city of Geneva, which is located at the foot of Seneca lake. The Auburn division of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad and the Seneca Falls branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad pass through the village.

The population of Seneca Falls, according to the 1915 State census, is about 7,000. The public water supply is under the control of the municipal authorities and is derived from Cayuga lake, the supply being filtered in mechanical pressure filters.

The sewer system was constructed in 1908 and 1909 under plans approved in 1904 (the disposal plant being built under plans approved by this Department on August 21, 1908), and consists of 20 miles of sanitary sewers, 6 inches to 24 inches in diameter. The sewage before its discharge into the Seneca river is treated in a sewage disposal plant consisting of a screen, a 3-compartment grit chamber, a 3-compartment settling tank and a sludge bed.

The main outfall sewer of the village sewer system leading to the disposal plant extends from Ovid street easterly along the southerly and easterly banks of the canalized river. This sewer is 24 inches in diameter and was reconstructed of castiron pipe by the State at the time of the construction of the Barge canal in view of the fact that the water level in the canal was so raised as to submerge this pipe line. A lateral trunk line 10 inches in diameter extends from a manhole 75 feet west of Ovid street on this main trunk sewer up the valley of a small stream entering the canal a short distance west of Ovid street and after crossing West Bayard street divides into two 8-inch branches, one extending easterly along an easterly branch of this stream across Ovid street and Garden street and one extending westerly along the westerly branch of the stream across Center, Bridge, Swaby and Toledo streets. It is over the upper portion of this lateral trunk sewer and the lower portions of its two branches, between West Bayard street on the north, Ovid street on the east and Center street on the west, that the pool referred to in the resolution of the local board of health is formed by the backing up of water from the Barge canal through the culvert under West Bayard street.

ms as

The level of the canal below the old lock in Seneca Falls at the mouth of the stream passing under West Bayard street has been raised approximately 14 feet. It was stated by the village engineer that the decision to raise the canal level to its present elevation at this point was made subsequent to the construction of the lateral trunk sewers south of West Bayard street described above.

This raising of the canal level has resulted in the formation of a pond 3 or 4 acres in extent and with a maximum depth of 10 to 12 feet in the center of the block bounded by West Bayard street on the north, by Ovid street on the east, by a short street connecting Ovid and Center streets on the south and by Center street on the west. Along the two branches of the stream, which formerly flowed through the center of this area, when the canal is at maximum level, the water backs through the culvert under Ovid street on the east and through the culverts under Center and Bridge streets on the west. The drainage area of the east or larger branch of this stream is approximately 2.8 square miles and the drainage area of the west branch is approximately 1.8 square miles, the total tributary drainage area being 4.6 square miles. The flow in each stream at the time of inspection amounted to a mere trickle, and it was agreed by the engineers and village officials present that during the summer, except in times of rainfall, these streams are entirely dry.

The general elevation of the streets bounding the block in which the pool or pond is located is 25 to 30 feet higher than the bed of the pond and 15 to 20 feet higher than the surface of the water in the pond. No effect, therefore, in the drainage conditions in cellars or on any wells in the vicinity is produced by the ponding of this water. Furthermore, the banks are rather steep, except along the streams east of Ovid street, and particularly along the stream west of Center and Bridge streets, and the fluctuation of 1 foot in canal level produced by the use of the water in the canal for power generation at Waterloo does not cause objectionable conditions from intermittent flooding of lands except in the case of the small areas adjacent to the sti described.

The only effects which might possibly have any sanitary significance arising out of the changes in water level incident to canal construction at this point are, first, the creation of the stagnant pool of water referred to near the center of the village; and, second, the infiltration of ground water into the trunk sewers in question.

Respecting the formation of a stagnant pond of water resulting from the raising of the canal level, it is apparent that, with no flow into this pond from the two branches of the stream during the greater portion of the summer season, and with the only renewal of the water in the pond consisting of the volume alternately backing up and flowing out through the culvert under West Bayard street, corresponding to the fluctuation of about one foot, insanitary conditions, due to mosquito breeding and the creation of objectionable odors, will undoubtedly be created in warm weather if the pond is not eliminated by filling in or unless the shores and bottom are so improved and other measures taken to prevent aquatic growths and mosquito breeding.

Respecting the surcharging of the trunk sewer, it was found that the lö-inch lateral trunk sewer near the point where it enters the main 24-inch trunk was flowing full under pressure, the sewage and water rising in the manhole a few inches above the crown of the inlet sewer. This sewer is 17 feet below the water level in the canal at its lower end and about 10 feet below the pond surface at its upper end, where the two 8-inch branches discharge into it. There is a manhole at this latter point and two manholes on the 8-inch branch to the east rising 6 or 8 feet above the water surface of the pond. Two of these manholes had a decided list, indicating possible breaks in the sewer line near them. These sewers were laid with cement joints below but not in the bed of the stream and are obviously, from the conditions found, in a leaky condition.

An inspection of the sewage disposal works of the village was made by one of the engineers of the Department on December 2, 1914, about one year before the canal prism at this point was filled with water. On the day of the inspection it was determined that the approximate daily flow of sewage reaching

the disposal plant was 291,000 gallons, equivalent to a per capita flow of 93 gallons per day per person served by the disposal works, and it was concluded that very little ground water or trade wastes were received at the disposal works at that time. The population tributary to the works then was about 3,120, only about 60 per cent of the total population of the village at that time, namely, 6,500, being served by the seyer system, and the sewage from approximately 800, discharging into the Elm street sewer, was not reaching the disposal plant owing to faulty construction of this sewer.

The three compartments of the settling tank are each 98 feet long, 101/2 feet wide and 7 feet 8 inches deep, giving a total capacity for the three tanks of about 160,000 gallons. This capacity allowed a detention of about 13 hours in 1914.

The additional ground water now reaching the disposal works by reason of the submerged and leaky condition of the lateral trunk sewers south of West Bayard street, allowing only for the full flowing capacity of the 10-inch trunk on a gradient of 0.6 per cent and not allowing for the fact that this sewer is flowing under some pressure, is 1,000,000 gallons daily.

The condition now existing therefore with respect to ground water infiltration into the sewers and with respect to the capacity of the settling tanks to treat the sewage is as follows:

Whereas, prior to the raising of the canal level, practically no ground water infiltration occurred, the amount of sewage reaching the plant was 291,000 gallons daily and the settling tank capacity allowed a detention of about 13 hours with less than half the population being served by the sewer system, at the present time, with the canal level raised, the lateral trunk sewers south of West Bayard street are surcharged with ground water, the amount of sewage and unfiltered ground water reaching the plant is in excess of 1,200,000 gallons and the time of detention in the settling tank, designed on a basis of 8 hours' detention for 5,500 persons, is but little more than 3 hours with probably less than 4,000 persons served by the sewer system. In other words, the excess ground water infiltration into the sewer system and reaching the disposal plant amounts to about one and one-third times the normal sewage contribution from the entire present population of the village.

From the above it may be concluded that the construction of the Barge canal through Seneca Falls has through the raising of the ground water level created a pool of water which unless properly improved and maintained will, in all probability give rise to odors and the propagation of mosquitoes and through leakage has seriously interfered with the proper operation of the village sewer system and sewage disposal works.

These conditions may, however, be remedied, at least in part, in the following ways:

1. The pond south of West Bayard street may be filled in with earth, proper provisions being made for a creek channel and thus do away with the present opportunities for mosquito breeding and the growth of algæ in and along the shores of the pond and reduce in a large measure the infiltration of water into the lateral trunk sewers; or

2. The trunk sewers may be reconstructed of castiron pipe with caulked joints to effectively prevent any infiltration of water into these sewers, and the bed and shores of the pond so improved as to eliminate all shallow portions and provide clean sharply sloped banks, thus eliminating

mosquito breeding places. Of these two methods the latter will be by far the more certain to prevent the infiltration of water into the lateral trunk sewers, although for the suppression of mosquitoes and the prevention of odors from algæ growth during the summer it may be necessary to treat the pond occasionally with copper sulphate and crude oil.

In conclusion I would recommend that copies of the report be transmitted to the State Engineer and to the village authorities.

Respectfully submitted,

THEODORE HORTON, ALBANY, N. Y., September 29, 1917

Chief Engineer

Copies of this report were transmitted to the State Engineer and to the village authorities.


HERMANN M. BIGGS, M.D., State Commissioner of Health:

I beg to submit the following report of our investigation of alleged insanitary conditions of the Bronx river and Hunt's brook at White Plains, with special reference to the breeding of mosquitoes.

A complaint in the form of a petition signed by some 26 residents of White Plains, was made to the Governor under date of August 13, 1917, in which it was alleged that insanitary conditions exist along the Bronx river and Hunt's brook, due to its stagnant condition, and, as a result, “the river and brook in their present repulsive condition breed mosquitoes and cause malaria, to the great discomfort and ill-health of the population in the neighborhood and constitute a nuisance.” A complaint of the insanitary condition of Hunt's brook was also made to this Department by a resident of the town of Greenburg. The petition to the Governor was referred to this Department on August 25 and an inspection of the Bronx river and of Hunt's brook was made by Mr. C. A. Holmquist, assistant engineer in this Department in company with Dr. LeRoy W. Hubbard, sanitary supervisor of that district, Dr. È. G. Ramsdell, health officer of White Plains and Mr. Geo. R. Hilty, assistant secretary of the Bronx parkway commission. The commissioner of public works of White Plains, one of the members of the common council of the city, the principal assistant engineer of the Bronx parkway commission and most of the signers of the petition to the Governor were interviewed.

The Bronx river from Brons park in New York city to the Kensico reservoir at Valhalla, a distance of about 15 miles, is included in the Bronx parkway reservation, which consists of a narrow strip of land having an average width of some 1,000 feet along the river. The land for the reservation is being acquired and improved jointly by New York city and the county of Westchester under the administration of three commissioners known as the Bronx parkway commission.

The improvements carried out by this commission consist largely of building driveways along the river; cleaning, straightening and improving the channel of the river; constructing and maintaining swimming pools; eliminating pollution of the river and tributaries; removing objectionable structures and buildings within the reservation; building bridges; and cutting down weeds and underbrush along the stream. Although considerable development work has been done north of White Plains, the greater portion of the work has been confined to the section south of White Plains. The improvements in the northern section of the reservation are being carried out as fast as land can be acquired.

Our inspection discloses that a section of the river for a distance of about one-half mile north of IIamilton avenue, in White Plains has been subject to backwater for about a year, due to the construction of the Hamilton avenue, concrete bridge which is now nearing completion. The old channel of the river at this point was on the line of the westerly abutment of the new bridge and in the construction of tliis abutment a dam was constructed across the stream at this place and a narrow channel for diverting the flow of the river was dug under the span of the new bridge west of the westerly abutment. This channel appeared to have been inadequate and too high to care for the flow of the stream so that the water level in the river at this point was raised some 3 or 4 feet, causing the water to overflow the low banks of the stream and spread over the low area north of Hamilton avenue, and more particularly north of Hopkins avenue, near the mouth of Hunt's and McLean brooks tributary to the river.

It was learned that the high water conditions of the river existed until the later par of July of this year, when the new channel under the Hamilton

« PreviousContinue »