April 23, 1890: General Federation of Women’s Clubs Founded

0423 General Federation of Womens ClubsApril 23, 1890:General Federation of Women’s Clubs founded in the US; conservation and “ecology” among top priorities. Over a million women participated directly in reform efforts during the Progressive era, and the federation developed national committees on forestry, waterways and rivers and harbors. For example, the waterways committee was formed in 1909 to promote water power, clean water and cheaper transportation, according to historian Carolyn Merchant.

“The rationale for women’s involvement [in public health movements] lay in the effect of waterways on every American home: Pure water meant health; impure meant disease and death.” — Carolyn Merchant.

April 22, 1915: Poison Gas Used, 1970: First Earth Day

0422 Earth Day

April 22, 1970: The first nationwide Earth Day celebration is organized by Sen. Gaylord Nelson and Dennis Hayes. It creates a national political presence for environmental concerns. Millions of Americans demonstrate for air and water cleanup and preservation of nature.

April 22, 1915: The use of poison gas in World War I escalates when chlorine gas is released as a chemical weapon in the Second Battle of Ypres. Forevermore, chlorine is not considered a viable alternative disinfectant in Europe.

Commentary:  It is amazing that one graphic represents two entirely different events that were 55 years apart.

April 21, 2012: Memorial to James P. Kirkwood Dedicated

0327 James P Kirwood

April 21, 2012:  Memorial to James P. Kirkwood dedicated by the St. Louis Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.  Kirkwood was the civil engineer hired by St. Louis, MO to investigate filtration of their water supply.  He wrote the classic book Report on the Filtration of River Waters, which was the first book in any language to focus on the filtration of municipal water supplies.  The book summarized his investigation covering 1865-69 where he described the filters and filter galleries he visited in 19 European water works.  Kirkwood died on April 22, 1877.

April 20, 1918: Tracing a Typhoid Carrier

0420 Typhoid MaryApril 20 1918: Municipal Journal article. Tracing of Typhoid Carrier Halts Epidemic. “Superior, Wis.-What threatened to be a serious epidemic of typhoid fever in this city has just been successfully averted. Nine cases of the malady broke out on one milk route, but it was successfully checked by Dr. D. R. Searle, city health commissioner; William Strasser, city bacteriologist, and Emil Haeske, milk inspector. This fight against typhoid is one of the most interesting in the city’s history. Two previous outbreaks of the disease had occurred on the same milk route, but the cause of the trouble has been removed at last. A dairyman’s wife and son have been discovered to have carried the disease for 16 years. Health commissioner Searle gave it as his opinion that if the epidemic had not been stopped when it was, it might easily have affected hundreds of persons. When a cousin of one of the dairy farmers who supplies Superior’s retail milk demand came over from Duluth sixteen years ago to recuperate from an illness with typhoid fever, this was the first link in the chain of infection, according to the authorities. Next the dairyman’s wife became ill with the disease, also one of his sons. Both recovered completely.

However, health department officials have found that the woman had been a carrier of typhoid for sixteen years and both herself and her son have been carriers of para-typhoid for that length of time. One case broke out on the milk route more than a month ago, but it was not reported immediately by the physician in charge. Then two more cases broke out and the health department began to investigate. The milk supply was immediately subjected to pasteurization. Blood and other tests were made on all members of the family and the premises were cleaned up on the dairy farm. Those who were found to be carriers of the disease were isolated.

Reference: “Tracing of Typhoid Carrier Halts Epidemic.” Municipal Journal article 44:16(April 20, 1918): 334.

Commentary: Even though this is a story about a typhoid epidemic that was spread by milk instead of water, it recounts the difficult time that health authorities had with identifying typhoid fever carriers—people who carried the bacterium in their gut but they did not have symptoms of the disease. Typhoid Mary was the most famous typhoid carrier in U.S. history.

April 19, 1882: Founding of the New England Water Works Assoc.

0419 First Mtg NEWWA

April 19, 1882: First meeting of the New England Water Works Association. “In an informal meeting between Horace G. Holden, Superintendent of the Lowell MA works, Frank E. Hall, the Worcester Superintendent and Robert C. P. Coggeshall, the New Bedford Superintendent, a decision was made to pursue the idea of a New England organization. The fact that they were informally meeting in Lowell to compare experiences suggests their strong interest in sharing knowledge, especially in light of the difficulties of making a journey across the state in those days. That same day, they visited with and enlisted Henry Rogers, Superintendent of nearby Lawrence MA into their group and began the process of soliciting interest from others. The original 4 men later enlisted James W. Lyons to their cause and broke down New England into 5 areas. Each directed a letter soliciting interest to all of the known water supplies in their respective area.

The first meeting was held at Young’s Hotel in Boston on April 19, 1882. Attending were representatives from the following communities: From Massachusetts-Fitchburg, Springfield, Worcester, Fall River, Brockton, Plymouth, Lawrence, Cambridge, Lowell, Leominster, Malden, Medford, Salem, New Bedford; From Connecticut-New Haven; From Rhode Island-Pawtucket; From New Hampshire-Manchester.

Also present were two meter vendors, one steam pump vendor, and one former governor of New Hampshire (a friend of the Manchester NH representative and an advocate of water supply). As the first business of the new organization, they appointed staff to develop a Constitution and chose Boston as the site of the next meeting in June. There is some brief record of water discussions on topics such as wrought iron pipe, fish becoming stuck in service lines, eels in pipes and growth of sponge, algae and clams in reservoirs and pipes, all normal issues for the day. They then adjourned for a hearty dinner and lighter conversation.”

0419 History of NEWWA founding date-2

April 18, 1912: Trenton Begins Chlorination

Solution Tanks for Calcium Hypochlorite Feed System

Solution Tanks for Calcium Hypochlorite Feed System

April 18, 1912: Municipal Journal article. Water Purification at Trenton. By Howard C. Hottel. “As a result of investigations made by the New Jersey State Board of Health, the city of Trenton, on November 9, 1911, started to purify its drinking water supply, raw Delaware River water, by the use of calcium hypochlorite.

Previous analysis of the water had shown that there was more or less constant pollution, liable to increase under certain weather conditions, and at the time that the plant was ready to start operation there was a typhoid epidemic in progress at Trenton.

The chemical purchased when tested was found to have 35 per cent available chlorine and treatment was begun with a strength of about 0.4 to the million of available chlorine. This was found to be insufficient and on November 28 the dose was raised to 0.8 and has since then varied from 0.8 to 1.0 part per million, with a daily pumpage of about 20,000,000 gallons. In commercial terms this means that from 20 to 25 pounds of calcium hypochlorite are being added to every million gallons of water that is being pumped.

After the chemical had been increased the intestinal bacteria began to disappear, as shown by tests made by the State Board of Health. Inasmuch as the pipe area is rather large it took some time before the tap water gave negative tests for B. coli.

There has been considerable complaint from the taxpayers, who claim that the chemical gives a slight taste to the water. In fact, some would seem to prefer taking chances with typhoid rather than purification by treatment with calcium hypochlorite. The treatment, however, will probably continue until a permanent purification plant is established. Plans are already being drawn for the erection of a mechanical filtration plant, with the expectation of having the same completed within a year.

Shortly after the hypochlorite treatment was begun the typhoid dropped abruptly and a few statistics may prove interesting. During the month of November, 1911, there were 82 cases of typhoid reported, and during December 49. For the first three months of 1912 there has been a total of only 15 cases; in 1911 for the same three months there were 52; in 1910, 47.”

Reference: Hottel, Howard C. 1912. “Water Purification at Trenton.” Municipal Journal article. 32:16(April 18, 1912): 589.

Dissolving Tanks for Calcium Hypochlorite Feed System

Dissolving Tanks for Calcium Hypochlorite Feed System

April 17, 1888: Paper Read by AWWA President J.T. Fanning

Frontpiece in book on Hydraulics written by J.T. Fanning

Frontpiece in book on Hydraulics written by J.T. Fanning

April 17, 1888: Paper read at AWWA national conference by J.T. Fanning, President. Water Supply Treatments and Sources. “The first and highest among municipal duties is that of securing the most wholesome public water supply and thereafter faithfully protecting the same. If charged with this duty the municipality goes to the river, the lake, or the hill-side stream in search of a pure supply, it will learn that all these waters have their sediments and solutions, and most of them have such impurities as will catch the attention of even a careless observer.

When the public eye observes, or the public receives a rumor that these impurities are flowing from its taps, there is a liability of exceedingly capricious opinion. This capriciousness over real, and more often over supposed, impurities, is one of the chief difficulties with which projectors and managers of water supply have to contend, and out of it have grown discussions and hatreds and divisions that have almost rent communities asunder.

Sometimes the consumers of water accept a supply graciously when to do so is to endanger their community, and on the other hand lack of funds or probable profit may influence the acceptance of a pernicious source until a change is more feasible.

Commentary: It is no wonder that contaminated water supplies were killing people by the trainload during the late 1800s. Water professionals did not think much of customer service back then.