QUESTION RAISED IN RIVER POLLUTION CASE.
A question as to whether New Jersey, because of lack of jurisdiction to entirely prevent the pollution of the Delaware River, can enact a law effectively restraining municipalities within the State, has been suggested by Supreme Court Justice Garrison, who directed his inquiry to Assistant Attorney General Boggs, during the latter’s argument before the Court of Errors and Appeals on an appeal of Phillipsburg from an order of Chancellor Walker enjoining the municiplaity from polluting the river. Justice Garrison pointed out that the object of the act invoked by the State Board of Health was to prevent the pollution of potable waters of the State. Mr. Boggs, it is stated, admitted that New Jersey was without power to prevent such pollution from the Pennsylvania shore, in the absence of joint legislation between the two States and Justice Garrison, reports state, asked whether the facilities of the legislation as affecting interstate streams was not apparent. The discussion which ensued was brought up whileMr. Boggs was arguing that the State had jurisdiction to prevent its inhabitants from polluting the Delaware, notwithstanding interstate character of the stream. He took the position that the legislative enactment on which the chancellor’s injunction was based would materially lessen the pollution of the river if enforced against all municipalities in New Jersey, and therefore contended that it should be sustained. Justice Garrison suggested that if a similar act authorized the construction of bridges across streams in New Jersey it would manifestly not be applicable to interstate streams over part to which the State could exercise no control. The line of question propounded by Justice Uarrison seemed to indicate a belief that joint action between New Jersey and Pennsylvania might be necessary to the passage of any valid enactment bearing upon the particular subject under discussion. Chief Justice Gummcre inquired whether water running would not purify itself after flowing a considerable distance. Mr. Boggs replied that the weight of evidence in the case was that it would not, and that although it might become physically clear, this would not indicate the absence of colon bacilli, or other bacilli, productive of intestinal diseases. Replying to another question, Mr. Boggs admitted probably that the city of Easton, directly opposite Phillipsburg on the Pennsylvania shore, causes much more pollution than Phillipsburg alone. The effort to prevent pollution of the river from Phillipsburg has been under way for some years.