Polluted River Waters

Polluted River Waters

George L. Robinson, member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, contributes an article to the New York Times on “Polluted River Waters” and offers some important suggestions to destroy the unsanitary effect. Mr. Robinson says:

It would seem from reading the reports of the various commissions and engineers on harbor and river pollution that the chief cause of danger to the health of the people of the city is the fact that vast amounts of decomposing organic matter remain floating about the ends of docks and bulkheads at which the outfall sewers discharge. There are three reasons fur this: First, the tides do not permit a continued flow in one direction; second, the piers and bulkheads cause eddies and hack currents, which develop the accumulation of floating matter in the slips; third, the sewers are not extended far enough into the river to give anything like the proper dilution. The reports show that much disease is caused by infection from the activity of flies in carrying germs from the floating matter in the river water and the filthy bulkheads; also that it is spread by the badly polluted water in the public baths. In addition to this, when the river water is so saturated with putrefactive matter as to give off gases, it is an open menace to all who may have occasion to work near it or even pass it It would seem that a plan might be developed largely to do away with this condition, and I would suggest installing near the water front on at least the chief sewers a sump or well in which should be set very fine mesh rotary screens through which the sewage should pass. These screens should be provided with a worm to remove the accumulation of organic matter and deliver it automatically into an adjacent bin where it could be disinfected and removed daily on tight barges and dumped at sea. Front the screens the resulting effluent could be passed through a sterilizing chamber and by means of centrifugal pumps could he delivered at a point several hundred feet further out in the stream. Rumps and screens could be driven by electric motors and the entire plant could be beneath the level of the street. The great cost of any intercepting sewer and the pumping thus involved, together with the fact that no place within reasonable or even possible distance is available for a central disposal works, would seem to make some such plan as the one above outlined the only one economically possible, if the chief sewers were provided with plants of this kind much could he gained, and public baths might be resumed in their present locations. It might also be possible during the winter months, when many of the various pollution dangers are absent, to discontinue the operation of these plants. We cannot compute the economic saving in lives, and efficiency that the elimination of river pollution would effect.

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