WATER POLLUTION.

WATER POLLUTION.

In speaking of the pollution of the sources of water supply Dr. Eugene H. Porter, New York State commissioner of health, recently said: In Pittsburg since 1900 the death rate has run from 124 to 144 per 100,000 of population. Drinking the sewage-laden waters of the Allegheny and Monongahela, it has the proud distinction of being the banner city for typhoid fever. Lowell and Lawrence teach an instructive and illuminating lesson. Lowell discharged its sewage into the Merritnac river. Nine miles below Lawrence had an intake. In 1890, when Lowell’s deaths were 170 per 100,000. Lawrence swelled to 134. The next year the upstream city dropped to about 100, and the downcurrent settlement went to 119. while another slight reduction above resulted in a drop of 106 below. Tired of this, finally Lawrence put in a filtration plant. The rate dropped the first year to forty-eight, and is still diminishing. Lowell also stopped using the Merrimae water, and resorted to a driven well supply with a reduction of about seventy-five per cent, on typhoid cases. Cleveland and Chicago gulp down their own sewage, and typhoid is master. The record epidemic at Ithaca demonstrates the need of the establishment of rules for the protection of water supplies and the urgent and effective enforcement of these rules.

A Chicago dispatch says that the “old fight between the water company and the citizens of Lake Forest. Ill., was renewed the other day, when a small delegation of irate citizens, headed by Mayor Frederick H. Gade, petitioned Judge Donnelly. of Waukegan, for an injunction restraining the water company from raising its rates. Consumers are now paying twenty cents for a thousand gallons, according to an ordinance passed by the citv council last January. The new rates which the water company proposes to establish will raise the rate five cents. One suit brought by the water company against the people is now pending in the courts, the company having attacked the right of the people to adjust their rates. The company’s franchise will expire in fifteen years.

WATER POLLUTION.

WATER POLLUTION.

JUSTICE BROWN, of the Supreme court of Pennsylvania, has recently handed down an important opinion dealing with the rights of water companies to prosecute those who persist in polluting streams, and the action of the secretary of the State board of health in relation thereto. A Dr. George P. Yost, who, as a medical man, certainly ought to have known better, maintained a cesspool at Glen Rock, York county, and refused to abate the nuisance at the bidding of the State board of health, which claimed that the pool infected the water which formed the source whence the York Water company drew its supply for the supply of the city of York. The defendant was indicted and acquitted in the Quarter Sessions court of the county, on which an appeal was taken to the Superior court, which set the verdict aside, and remitted the record to the lower court for a new trial. The case was then taken to the Supreme court, which has reversed the judgment of the Superior court. In hie decision Justice Brown said:

If the public, having a right to take from this stream pure and unpolluted water, found in it the germs of disease coming from the cesspool of the defendant, which he maintained on a tributary of the stream, his offence would be a public one, for which he would be properly indicted. The wrong would be against the whole community as a community, not simply against an individual or certain individuals, however numerous, and ought to be punished as a crime. If the public lias a right to receive pure water through the agency of a corporation legally authorized to takeitfrom a stream, he who pollutes it offends against the public.

The opinion, after emphasizing the distinction between this privilege of the public, exercised through the right of eminent domain, and the standing of a private corporation as a riparian owner, continues:

The rights of the York Water company were under the evidence produced, simply those of an ordinary ripaiian owner, having no ownership in the running water and no right to divert or sell the same for general use, whether pure or impure. As an individual, it could complain of the alleged pollution of the water, and it alone, for which there was a civil remedy. Before the defendant could be convicted of any offence against the public, it was the duty of the Commonwealth toshowthat he had offended against rights of the public. No such offence was proven; no right of the public to use the water pumped by the York Water company was shown. Any wrong committed was a private one, for which the remedy was purely civil. The defendant was acquitted by the jury after having been directed by the court to pass upon the question of his guilt. They should have been told to acquit him. We feel that we cannot concur with the Superior court in its view as to the power and authority of the secretary of the State board of health. The statute authorizes the board to act, and the learned trialjudgein the court below correctly held that there could be no conviction on two counts, because nothing had been shown except some action by the secretary. Withoutformai action by the board, directing a nuisance or the cause of any special disease or mortality to be abated and removed, its secretary can neither speak nor act for it in ordering the abatement or removal of the nuisance, and the disregard of the order Is not indictable. It will be observed that the decision of the Supreme court distinctly styles the cesspool a nuisance against which redress can be obtained in a civil court, and thus by implication brands as the polluter of acity’s water supply a man, who,as a physician, it might reasonably be supposed, would have been (as was his duty) the last to do anythingthat would affect, however lightly, the health of the community.