Surgeon General Hugh S. Cummings, head of the United States Public Health Service, recently said, in reference to the shortage of purifying supplies caused by lack of cars:
The cities of Gadsden, Ala., and Attalla, which are supplied by the Gadsden water works, have found the water contaminated and Attalla shut off the Gadsden supply and went back to the use of a large spring formerly used by the town but abandoned for two years. Analyses were made of the spring water and it was pronounced to be “highly contaminated and unfit for drinking purposes,” colon bacilli having been found. Gadsden has arranged to put in a modern chlorination plant in order to correct the conditions complained of.
“Officers of the United States Public Health Service view the situation with alarm, as do health officers throughout the country. The summer is always a critical time for dealing with water borne diseases, for the demands made on municipal water systems are then so great, that usually every available source of water has to be utilized. In very few places in the United States have large cities a water supply which does not need to be artificially purified before it is safe for drinking purposes, the usual method being mechanical filtration with alum and disinfection with chlorine. With these chemicals practically unobtainable, due to the railroad situation, it may soon be impossible to furnish pure water in some of the largest American cities. During the last ten years purification with alum and chlorine has been the greatest single factor in the control of typhoid fever. Unless railroads find it possible immediately to transport the necessary materials to the cities the most serious consequences in the form of epidemics of typhoid fever are to be apprehended.”