Why This Filtration Bill?
Assemblyman Davis has introduced into the legislature of New York State a bill “to amend the public health law by adding a new section relative to powers of local boards of health and the State board of health, with reference to water furnished by individuals, copartnerships and corporations other than municipal corporations for consumption by the inhabitants of municipalities of the State.” The new section, numbered seventy-five, reads as follows: “Any corporation or individual or copartnership other than a municipal corporation which is now or which shall hereafter hero me engaged in supplying water for consumption hy the inhabitants of any municipality of this State for family or domestic use, and all its or his or their properties, watersheds, reservoirs, wells and other sources of water supply, shall be subject to the inspection and control, so far as proper sanitary methods arc concerned, of the Ixjard of health of such municipality, or such other officer or officers as are charged with similar duties as boards of health in towns and cities. Said hoards of health or other similar officers may make such orders and directions as to proper sanitary conditions and improvements to be made by the person, persons or corporations furnishing said water, and shall specify the date for the final completion thereof. Any order so made shall be served on the corporation, individual or copartnership in the manner prescribed for service of a summons in the Supreme court in an action therein. Said boards of health or other similar officers may, if necessary, require the installaton of a proper system of filters, so as to render the water furnished by any corporation, individual or copartnership other than a municipal corporation, to he pure and wholesome, subject to the approval of the officer or officers so ordering the same. No drugs or chemicals of any kind shall be used in purifying any such waters. Said order may be made *n reference to territory situate outside of the jurisdiction of said boards of health or other officials, if the water supply shall come from outside their jurisdiction, and, when so made, shall be presented to the State board of health, and, when approved hy said board, shall become operative and shall be observed and carried out by said individual or copartnership so furnishing water to municipalities or the inhabitants thereof. Any corporation or individual or copartnership which shall fail or refuse to carry out and put in force and effect any such orders so made by a board of health or other similar official or officials after due service of such order shall be subject to a penalty of $io> for each and every day after the expiration of the date set for such work to be completed. Nothing in this section contained shall be deemed to affect the powers of local boards of health or similar officers in cities or of the State board of health with reference to waterworks systems eontroled by municipal corporations. This act shall take effect immediately.”
The exact meaning of this hill is not clear. The more closely it is examined, the more apparent seems to be the object of placing a hindrance in the way of mechanical filtration in particular and filtration in general, as the former cannot he carried on without the use of coagulants, while it is not in the power or within the means of every private water companv to adopt any other method of filtering its supply. For these reasons alone, if the hill becomes law. filtration, which is such a necessity in most communities, will he hindered, except at such cost as will put it out of the power of smaller water companies to supply wholesome water to their consumers. Tn any ease, such a law. if enacted, will open the door to unlimited grafting. We shall have more to say on this subject in a future impression. For the present it is sufficient to add that it is a matter of common knowledge which has bcn substantiated by tests made bv boards of health and practising chemists, under whose supervision various waterworks systems have utilised mechanical filtration, that no trace of the chemical employed, which is usually sulphate of alumina, appears in ‘he filtered water; in fact, there is nlentv of evidence to show that the water filtered bv this method contains less alumina than is to be found in the raw water before it is filtered. It is now also generally known that turbid supplies cannot he satisfactorily handled wi’hout the use of coagulants, which this hid would seem to prohibit. The evidence of this lies in the House Bill offered to Congress in iq?6. which allows the slow sand-filtration which handles the supply of the citv of Washington to use chemicals in connection therewith, .in order to obtain satisfactory results during all seasons. In the recent reports submitted by the engineers and approved by the commissioner of water supply for the city of New’ York, which report is now’ before the comptroler for action, the use of chemicals is not only included, but recommended, in order to yield a satisfactory filtering.