To Prevent Water Pollution in New York State
Comprehensive plans have been formed by George D. Pratt, of the New York State Conservation Commission, which, if carried out as he has planned them, will do much toward putting a stop to the pollution of the rivers and streams of this state. The report of Professor Ward, after a long and comprehensive investigation of conditions, covers one hundred pages of typewriting, and treats the subject very exhaustively. While the professor suggests certain changes in the present laws covering pollution, he lays stress on the fact that these are rather minor in their nature and that the secret lies more actively in the proper enforcement of the present laws, than in changing or amplifying them. Much, he says, with the assistance of competent biologists and chemists, can be accomplished under the law is it stands. As a foundation on which to proceed, it became necessary for the commission to locate all of the industries that are at least potential polluters of water courses. Those capable of pollution were card indexed. The commission then required all game protectors to report every industrial establishment in New York State that was causing pollution, and the game protectors’ reports were consolidated with that of the Industrial Commission, from which the original list had been made. A map was also prepared, showing conditions in each watershed. The next step was to have every case of pollution visited and examined, to ascertain if a bona-fide case of pollution really existed. In some cases it was found that the suspects had suitable disposal works or other means of controlling their wastes. The final step is yet to come. It is the eventual removal of dangerous pollution of streams, by cooperation, wherever practicable, with the industrial plant that is responsible, or, failing this, by prosecution of the offenders. The commission hopes to co-operate with the various industries to the fullest extent, and this co-operation will, of course, be much preferable to the other alternative of prosecution, which, besides causing ill-feeling and misunderstanding, will be long, tedious and expensive to all concerned. This matter of stream purification, not only in New York State, but the country over, is one that is becoming more and more a vital one, as the cities and towns enlarge their water systems and draw increasingly on the rivers, lakes and streams to supply the demand of their citizens for increased amounts of water. The tendency is toward conservation in all lines and quite often the trade wastes that pollute the streams and lakes, render the water unfit for use, and destroy the fish life, could be reclaimed by certain process and made to serve some useful purpose. There is a great field here for scientific investigation, and eventually, no doubt, ways and means will be discovered whereby much of this waste material will, as some of it is now, be turned to good account, instead of being dumped into the waters to breed disease and discomfort and turn the hairs of the water superintendents gray.