Polluting the Great Lakes

Polluting the Great Lakes

American and Canadian delegates attending the convention of the Great Lakes International Pure Water Association recently held at Cleveland, O., found themselves divided on the question of sewage disposal. Their views were extremely divergent, and so far as concerned the convention of this year, the subject was by no means threshed out. This is regrettable, considering that so many cities, such as Chicago, Cleveland. Erie, Toronto, where next year’s convention is to be held, and others ar.‘ dependent upon one or other of these lakes for their water supply. That supply is certainly being endangered, owing to the great volume of sewage that is daily being poured into tli.in without having first been so treated as to get rid ot the disease germs with which their waters are flooded. How far out this foul matter extends from the shore of each of these citi s and towns, and whether it is finally so absorbed (if the expression may be used) by the greater body of undefiled water in any one of these lakes, or whether there is always the danger of these germs lurking in their depths being carried by some current or other to the source of supply of a different town lower down dots not seem to be known—far less decided. Nor has it been absolutely ascertained whether or not these disease bearing germs are preyed upon or neutralized by the .inocuous bacteria—a point of no small importance when considered front a sanitarian standpoint. In fact, not to put too fine a point upon it, the convention has adjourned. leaving the question pretty much where it was, with the scientists divided into separate camps. On the whole, perhaps, the Canadian delegates seemed to he the least joined to the prevailing idol of letting what some apparently considered very well alone, inasmuch as they were more than disposed to reflect the somewhat moderate opinion of Dr. Allen J. McLaughlin, of the Government health service, who, in discussing the sewage pollution of the Great Lakes, declared for a guarded and properly regulated discharge of refuse into these. The Canadians took issue with his stand and favored a general law in both countries that should altogether forbid the discharge of sewage into the lakes. Dr. McLaughlin, however, took the ground that, as between purification of the water of a city and the purification of the sewage discharged into the source of that supply, the former course should be adopted, if only because it was cheaper. He claimed in addition, that it was also more effective. As was to be looked for, there arose a discussion with respect to the purity or the reverse of the water supply of Cleveland, which is taken from Lake Erie through an intake distant four miles off shore. This water supply, the report of D. D. Jackson, the city’s water expert, claimed to be free from contamination—a statement which was at once criticized and not least severely by Dr. McLaughlin, who emphatically declared the water to be “contaminated as far out as 12 miles.” But on that point, as on others, the experts were divided, and when filtration was upheld, one delegate went so far in decrying the adoption of such a method as to assert that a filtration plant was “necessary only from an aesthetic point of view.” On this as well as other scientific questions there appears to be a wide divergence in opinion. How to bring about an approach to a union that will serve to dispose of the matter in a way that shall secure the waters of the Great Lakes from pollution and thus diminish the possibilities of water-borne diseases affecting those cities and towns where the water of these lakes is used as the source of people’s domestic supply, is as yet in the future—rendered nearer, of course, by the more or less practical discussions at such conventions as that just held at Cleveland, and by those of such organizations as the American Water Works, the New England and the Central Water Works Associations. Probably also, if the Pure Water Association and the National Association for Preventing the Pollution of Rivers and Waers were to consolidate (as was tecotnmended at the recent Cleveland convention), a gteat forward step would be taken toward effecting this most desirable consummation. and if this consolidated body could get together and agree on a definite course of action with the other kindred associations referred to. the solution of the problem would be rendered easy.

Navarre, O., has a new plant completed at a cost of $25,000.

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