UNDERGROUND WATER COLLECTIONS.
A very interesting question recently came up in New Jersey in a legal way in connection with ground water collection. The East Orange supply is obtained from artesian wells from the terminal moraine of the latest glacial period. When starting work on those wells about nine years ago the city took as legal authority the old English rule that a man can do what he pleases with his own property; that is, he can take a million gallons of water out of it, and it does not make any difference what happens as a result of that to his neighbors. Superintendent A. A. Reimer went ahead and developed the system, and had been operating only a few months when the city was suddenly confronted by a rather serious legal complication. A farmer about a mile and a quarter away from the pumping station charged that he had lost the use of his spring. He was in the dairy business, and used the spring for cooling milk. The city fought that case to a finish, and was finally defeated, only to the extent, however, of nominal damages of six cents. But of course that established the rule of law that if allowed to stand would govern. East Orange decided to play a waiting game, but the farmer came back again with another suit. That suit finally went to the Count of Errors and Appeals, the highest court in New Jersey, and the rule of law laid down there established a new precedent in New Jersey, placing underground waters in the same position as surface waters. It practically established the law of riparian right underground, and the city was held liable for diversions of water. Of course, the fact had to be first proven, so that the decision amounted only to a rule of law. “But it has proven an expensive proposition,” Superintendent Reimer says. “We had then to determine the extent of our drainage area; we had to consider soils more closely than we had ever done before. It was not that we did not want to know these things before, but we did not have to know them before, and desiring to save the money did not investigate fully. However, we did investigate then to the extent of a good many thousands of dollars, drilling wells all through the region and watching the rise and fall of water. It is intensely interesting to any one who is interested in underground waters.”