Safeguarding the Croton Watershed
At a conference at Albany, N. Y., Governor Whitman, of New Lork, last week heard the views of officials of the Health Department and others relative to plans for the disposal of the sewage of the Mohansic State Hospital and the Training School for Boys at Yorktown Heights. Plans called for the construction of sewage disposal works with ultimate drainage of the purified effluent into Mohansic Lake, which contributes to the Croton water supply and protests had reached the State authorities from New York City because of fear that the water supply would be contaminated. Mayor Mitchel had written to the Governor asking that a oublic hearing be granted before passing upon the plans. The Governor stated the plans were not before him at this time but took the matter up, it being a matter of vital interest to New York City. After the conference the Governor made public his reply to Mayor Mitchel. In it, after asserting that authorities agree that the plans do not menace the water supply, the Governor said: “I sympathize, as do all who have had to do with this matter, with the objections to this procedure existing in New York City, and feel that it is desirable that the additional safeguard be provided of carrying the effluent from these plants to the Hudson River, and I shall take such action as is necessary to bring about this result without interfering with the immediate construction of the institutions in question. I can assure you that the mains carrying the effluent from the disposal plants to the Hudson River will be constructed by the State before the sewage plants are put in operation.” A commission of experts, wrote the Governor, had endorsed the sewage disposal plans and continued: “As you have indicated, the Commissioner of Health has had correspondence with the present Commissioner of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity of New York City, and has also had conferences with him in reference to this matter, before his approval of the plans for the Yorktown institution; and at his suggestion requested the engineer of the State Architect’s office and the chief engineer of the Department of Health to consider the feasibility of carrying the effluent from the sewage disposal plant of this institution and also that of the Mohansic State Hospital to the Hudson River. He was advised that this plan was feasible, but that the expense would be about $125,000, and the yearly additional cost for interest, depreciation, maintenance and operation would be about $25,000. In view of the urgent need for the immediate erection of these institutions, and in view of the positive views of the commission appointed by the Commissioner of Health, he approved of the proposed plans for the Yorktown Training School; and has indicated his intention of approving of similar plans for the Mohansic State Hospital.” The Governor said further that he was advised the system would be an absolutely necessary preliminary to and a permanent part of any subsequently erected mains to carry the effluent from this riant to the Hudson River, if this course should be decided upon and continued: “To conduct raw sewage under high pressure for eight miles in pipes which would run for a long distance over the Croton watershed, very much nearer Croton Lake than these disposal plants are, would be dangerous and would not for one moment be considered by the State Department of Health. The only question at issue is as to whether the purified effluent shall be disposed of in this manner, and Commissioner Biggs has already indicated his belief that such action must be taken eventually because these institutions when fully developed will require the waters of Mohansic Lake and Crom Pond for their own water supply.” At the conference were Herman M. Biggs, State Health Commissioner; Lewis E. Pilcher, State Architect; E. E. Woodbury, Attorney General, and other State officials. Governor Whitman asked Dr. Biggs to explain the situation, and he told in detail of the plans to build sewage disposal plants, and said that he was convinced of their scientific soundness.