Conserving New Jersey Waters.
Showing substantial progress in the solution of the conservation problems upon which it has been devoting its attention for years, the New Jersey State Water Supply Commission has submitted its annual report to Governor Wilson. The commission states that obstacles which in the past have effectually barred the way to practical State conservation arc gradually being surmounted, and at the present time the efforts to establish a plan for a joint municipal water supply under State ownership, have every asurartce of soon being crowned with success. The rapid, growth of municipalities in the northern part of New Jersey, according to the report, has brought many of them face to face with the urgent necessity for new and augmented water supplies, and for this reason the work of the Water Supply Commission is proving intensely interesting to municipalities in that section of the State. During the year ten of these municipalities joined in defraying the cost of the preliminary investigation on the Wanaque watershed, and since the results have been announced the majority have advised the commission of their desire to enter into contract with it for water. “The campaign of education.” continues the report, “which the commission has pursued, touching chiefly upon the broad question of water conservation in northern New Jersey, where the needs of many of the communities are most pressing, has been largely responsible for winning public sentiment over to the State’s plan as recommended. The advantages offered to the several municipalities are so patent, particularly since the details of, the Wanaque project have been worked cut, that earlier passive interest has given place to an earnest public demand for its speedy consummation.” In the report the commission renews the suggestion, which has been made before, that supervision over the water powers of the State be vested in it. It says that in other commonwealths the co-relation between the water powers and the conservation of the potable waters has been widely recognized. and highly beneficial results obtained in the development of water power therefor permitted to run to waste. The commission believes there is no good reason why New Jersey should not profit similarly, and continues: “Likewise would the commission recommend the extension of its jurisdiction to include supervision over the dams within the State. While recognizing the. added weight of responsibility that would come to it by reason of, such a step, the commission feels that State oversight would go far toward affording immunity front such appalling disasters from alleged faulty structures as have occured in various parts of the United States during the past year.” To continue and extend the campaign of education which the commission has under way, additional legisation is asked for to increase the scope of its powers, having particular reference to the financing of the proposed Wanaque development. This legislation was passed as suggested by the commission, and according to the report is highly advantageous. Continuing, the report says: “The past year has witnessed the apparent abandonment of the effort to divert water out of the confines of the State in defiance of the statutes drawn for he express purpose of presering for the uses and enjoyment of the people of New Jersey all the potable water, both surface and sub-surface, within the State. The transfer of the issue front the State to the federal courts imparted to the controversy between the State of New Jersey and the Hudson County Water Company an altogether new aspect, hut the salient principle involved remained unchanged, and the ultimate withdrawal by the Federal Government of its condemnation proceedings for the purpose of securing water from driven wells at Belleville with which to supply the forts on Staten Island, has left New Jersey in undisputed control over all the potable water within its territorial limits. During the year just passed, no wilful violations of the law with respect to the diversion of water have been brought to the commission’s attenion. There have been occasions at rare intervals where private water companies have entered the field of purveying water for public use without observing the fortuities required by the statute, hut these were attributable to ignorance of the regular mode of procedure, and remedial steps were promptly taken. One of the officers of the commission is to sec that an equable apportionment of the unappropriated waters of the ”tale is made, where the interests of adjacent communities appear to conflict. In the consideration of applications for new or additional water supplies the commission has ever been mindful of this duty. At times in the past if has been deemed advisable in the interest of the greatest number and in furtherance of the State’s more comprehensive plan of conservation, to deny rival applications for diversion rights upon the same watershed. In such case* the wisdom of this action has been ultimately conceded even by those communities whose applications failed of approval.” The report takes up in detail the matter of the proposed joint municipal water supply project in the Passaic Valley. It says that ten municipalities have joined in the application to the commission for a new or additional water supply and have paid their pro rata share of the cost of the preliminary investigation. After citing the proceedings of the public conferences held in Newark, in which Paterson, Fast Orange, Montclair, Elizabeth, Nutlcy. Glen Ridge and Totowa participated, the hoard says that the resolution, offered by Mayor McBride, of Paterson, and suggesting new legislation. was passed. In line with this recommendation the report of the commission asks that the Legislature at the approaching session make the appropriation necessary for a competent appraisal of the properties of the companies now supplying various municipalities in the northern part of the State with water to the end that there shall he no delay in pushing the conservation project to an early consumption. “One of the attractive features of the suggested acquisition of the Fast Jersey Water Company’s plant,” the report says, “is found in the fact that with the State in possession of this plan it would come into an immediate and substantial revenue from the earnings of an operating concern.” Included in the report of the commission is an appendix to a previous report on the Wanaque project. This appendix was written by Morris R. Sherrerd, the consulting engineer of the commission, and follows: “During the hearings had on the Wanaque project it was suggested that a reservoir at Midvale, with its flow line at a higher elevation than suggested in the report, might prove to be more advantageous for a part of the territory to be supplied from this reservoir. Before any construction work is undertaken in connection with the development of the Wanaque River watershed can he brought about by constructing the dam at the location suggested in the report but carrying to a higher elevation than is contemplated in said report. This would give the added advantage of additional storage and increased height of delivery. It would also give a greater storage in the Midvale Reservoir than could he accomplished by the location of the dam at a point farther up the stream, so that it would serve double purpose of giving the extra height of delivery and also the greater storage capacity for the reservoir, without a material increase in cost. In any event, it would he wise to contsider whether the construction of the dam should not be at the lower point, but constructed in such a manner that it might he raised for a greater storage capacity as the same may be needed in the future. This phase of the question would depend on the numher of municipalities that join in the project, but would perhaps be advisable in any ease, as it will be essential to develop the total yield of the Wannique watershed for the future needs of the communities which may become dependent on the same.” The commission submits a table of municipalities and companies which are liable for water diverted in excess of the limit fixed by the law. While the table shows some revenue by the State for excess diverson. it is significant when compared with previous figures, as showing decreased consumption on where formerly the greatest waste was obtained.
At a meeting in Helena, Mont., an ordinance was adopted by the members of the council that the water rates of that city would remain unvhangcd.