September 4, 2006: Bottled Water Use in Iraq War

0904 Bottled Water in IraqSeptember 4, 2006Production of Bottled Drinking Water by Oasis. “MNC-I Theater-Specific Requirements for Sanitary Control and Surveillance of Field Water Supplies (MNC-I Operations Order 06-02, September 4, 2006) states that only bottled water is authorized for drinking in Iraq. TB MED 577 requires Veterinary Services or Preventive Medicine to inspect and provide monthly monitoring of the bottling facilities and water quality to ensure that the bottled water is safe. Oasis operates six bottled-water facilities to produce drinking water for U.S. forces throughout Iraq. We visited the facility at Camp Liberty on the Victory Base Complex in Baghdad. We observed its operations and reviewed the preventive medicine oversight records for December 27, 2005, through December 2, 2006. The Oasis bottled water production facility at Camp Liberty operated in accordance with the applicable quality control and oversight procedures.”

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq– “It takes 864,000 bottles of water a month to keep Soldiers on Forward Operating Base Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq, hydrated, and during the peak summer season that number nearly doubles.

This staggering amount of water is delivered around the FOB by a single platoon of Soldiers from Company A, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. According to Sgt. 1st Class Baulino Moralez, a Edinburg, Texas, native and the fuel and water platoon sergeant in Co. A, the water supports nearly 5,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and civilians on the installation, and also goes to bases in the surrounding area. Moralez also said in Iraq, it is often unsafe for non-nationals who do not have proper immunities to drink from local water sources, making bottled water essential. “The bottled water [we deliver] is guaranteed to be contamination free,” said Moralez. “Soldiers don’t have to think twice about the quality of the water they are consuming and can focus on performing their mission,” he continued.

With so many units working on Warrior, bottled water must be delivered to several locations around the FOB. “When people call us and say they need water…we come running,” said Moralez. “We make sure water is convenient and accessible for them,” said Spc. Shawn Horton, an Orlando, Fla., native and a petroleum supply specialist with Co. A. This platoon tries to make it as easy as possible for people on the go to be able to find the water they need, he continued. “They need water…to do everyday operations. People need to stay hydrated.” “With the weather as hot as it is, the challenge for this platoon is getting water to everywhere it needs to go before the last drop runs out,” said Moralez.

Unlike some jobs, these Soldiers get to see the positive results of what they do on an everyday basis. “We get a lot of ‘thank yous,'” said Horton. “Even if we don’t get a thank you, we know we are appreciated because the water gets drank.” “It is nice for someone to be there at all times to provide water without people having to go around looking for it,” said Sgt. Vanee Ngirkiklang, a gun truck operator with Co. B, 15th BSB. With the weather not expected to cool down any time soon, the water delivery platoon will have its hands full keeping the residents of this FOB hydrated.”

September 3, 1908: Bubbly Creek Chlorine Test; 1892: Start of Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal

Chicago Stockyards, 1908

Chicago Stockyards, 1908

September 3, 1908:  First day of chloride of lime (chlorine) testing at the Union Stockyards Filtration Plant.  The water source was the foul, polluted Bubbly Creek, a tributary to the Chicago River.  The water produced during the test was used to provide water to cows and pigs. George A. Johnson who was involved in the test claimed that he was responsible for the first large-scale use of chlorine in water in the U.S. The following excerpt from The Chlorine Revolution:  Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives demonstrates that his claim was bogus.

Much is made in subsequent histories of the early use of chlorine and Johnson’s role in the addition of chlorine to the Bubbly Creek plant that also occurred during 1908.  In several exchanges with Mr. Edwards (direct examination) on October 5, 1909, the thirty-fourth day of testimony during the second phase of the trial, Johnson described his role at the Bubbly Creek plant in 1908.

“Q.  Did you have charge of the first plant at Bubbly Creek in the stock yards in Chicago, and the purification of waters therefrom?

  1. I was appointed referee in a test which was run on the stock yards filter plant in the months of April and September 1908, and the plant was, during that period, virtually under my direction.” (emphasis added)

Johnson was under oath and he chose his words carefully when he answered the question.  It is clear, that his work on the Bubbly Creek plant was a test and not a full-scale demonstration of chlorine disinfection technology, nor was it anything approaching a continuous use of chlorine to disinfect a water supply for human consumption.  The Bubbly Creek plant consisted of coagulation with lime and iron or alum followed by sedimentation for three hours.  The settled water was treated with chloride of lime at an available chlorine dose of more than 1 ppm followed by filtration through a sand filter.  Johnson’s testimony then described the source of water for the Bubbly Creek plant.

“Q.  What is the character of the water treated so far as pollution is concerned?

  1. The raw water pumps take out of probably the foulest estuary in the world—
  2. The Chicago river?
  3. It is a branch of the Chicago river.  It has been notorious for a great many years and was given the name of Bubbly Creek by reason of the fact that gas is rising over the entire surface all of the time.  The water which flows through this creek is merely the drainage from seventeen thousand acres of southeastern Chicago and on this area there is resident about 200 thousand people.  The sewage from this area and the street washings also are discharged in this creek.

“Q.  What is done with this water after it is treated?

  1. It is used for watering the stock in the Union Stock Yard in Chicago.”

At the end of his testimony on October 5, 1909, George A. Johnson stated:

“I recommended the use of hypochloride (sic) of lime in connection with the Bubbly Creek filter plant in May, 1908, believing that was the only chemical that would make possible the achievement of satisfactory results.  I had had no actual experience of much moment with this chemical but had gained a good deal of knowledge regarding its sterilizing powers from conversations with various scientists in this country and in Europe and from reading various documents descriptive of tests that had been made with it.  The plant at Bubbly Creek was a failure until this sterilization agent was used.”

Also stated in the examination of Johnson were statements that acknowledged Leal’s role at Boonton:  “…the process installed by Dr. Leal…” and “…the result of purification in Dr. Leal’s system of purification at Boonton…”

A two-page paper published obscurely in 1909 could have set the record straight on what actually happened at the Bubbly Creek plant if anyone had read it.  It was written by Adolph Gehrmann who was part of the two-man team doing the tests on the Bubbly Creek plant.

“I desire to bring to your attention some of the data relating to a purification plant now under test at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago….Mr. George A. Johnson and myself were selected to conduct tests during operation as a basis for determining the various elements of efficiency as required under the contract.” (emphasis added)

“During the fourth period of test it had been determined, on the suggestion of Mr. Johnson, to introduce chloride of lime as an oxidizing and germicidal agent in place of copper sulphate.”(emphasis added)

Because the “fourth period of test” at the Union Stock Yards was carried out in September 1908 and Johnson had been working with Fuller since July 19, 1908 on the full-scale Boonton plant, it is not hard to figure out where Johnson got the idea to test chloride of lime.  It is highly unlikely that he figured out all on his own that chlorine should be added to the Bubbly Creek plant sometime in May 1908.

Apparently, the tests at the Union Stock Yards worked to the satisfaction of the researchers although B. colon was still found in the effluent.  Nonetheless, the water was good enough, despite some “taste” to the water, to put it in the hog and cattle pens.  “…it was drunk by the stock very readily.”

In 1910, an article appeared in Engineering News which reviewed all of the issues associated with the construction of the Bubbly Creek treatment plant and the use of the water from the plant.  In 1909, a lawsuit was brought by the City of Chicago against the Union Stock Yard company to discontinue use of any water from the Bubbly Creek treatment plant for any purposes related to watering cattle.  In the trial, the City claimed that water from the plant was being consumed by people in direct conflict with any imaginable iota of good sense.  A key point in the case was that cattle producers believed that their cattle put on less weight when they were given water from the Bubbly Creek plant as opposed to City water.  The company denied their contention but agreed as a smart business practice to stop using the water.  The treatment plant was subsequently shut down.

Johnson wrote and had published in Engineering News three weeks later a 5,000 word letter defending the Union Stock Yard company and himself.  Along with his creative use of the calendar and a few facts, his defense was not persuasive.

In 1913, Johnson once again tried to make the case that the water treated from the foul Bubbly Creek was as good as other water from polluted sources. His arguments were not convincing.

Therefore, Mr. Johnson’s testimony and Gehrmann’s paper showed that for a few days in September 1908, Johnson was a referee at a test of chloride of lime at a Chicago treatment plant treating raw sewage to act as a water supply for cattle.  According to Johnson, he recommended this test in May 1908 although the actual tests did not take place until four months later, September 3 to 17, 1908.  Dr. Leal stated in his testimony that he devised his chloride of lime alternative treatment for the Boonton water supply on or shortly after May 1, 1908.


Between Jersey City and Water Company, October 5, 1909, 6668-6670.

Between Jersey City and Water Company, October 5, 1909, 6674.

Between Jersey City and Water Company, October 5, 1909, 6672-6673.

Gehrmann, “Experiment in Chemical Purification,” 120.

Baker in Quest  on page 339 stated that some testing with hypochlorite was done during the third testing period from July 27 to August 2; however, Gehrmann’s article makes it clear that no hypochlorite was tested during that period.

Gehrmann, “Experiment in Chemical Purification,” 121.

“Water Purification Plant of the Chicago Stock Yards,” 245.

Johnson, “Chicago Stock Yards Water Purification Litigation.”

Johnson, “Sanitary Significance Common Constituents,” 67.

Shovel Day Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal

Shovel Day Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal

September 3, 1892: First Shovel of Dirt in Construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. “The Sanitary and Ship Canal ran from the South Branch of the Chicago River at Robey Street (now Damen Avenue) to Lockport, a distance of 28 miles in 1900. The channel had a navigable depth of more than 20 feet; its width varied between 110 and 201 feet. Construction on this section, begun in 1892, took eight years to complete and was divided into three sections: an earth section from Robey Street to Summit; an earth and rock section between Summit and Willow Springs; and a rock section from Willow Springs to Lockport. In 1900, the canal ended at a dam in Lockport, which allowed for water to flow southward but precluded navigation. Between 1903 and 1907, the canal was extended to Joliet. A navigation lock and a powerhouse respectively overcame the navigational obstacles and exploited the water power possibilities, of a 34 foot drop between Lockport and Joliet.

President [of the company] Frank Wenter scooping the first shovelful of earth from the Sanitary and Ship Canal on September 3, 1892. More than a thousand dignitaries traveled on a train, specially decorated for the occasion, to Lemont for the ceremony. The public rhetoric was effusive; the Chicago Tribune compared the moment to driving the golden spike that completed the transcontinental railroad in 1869.”

Commentary: Even though these two events happened 16 years apart, it showed how important Chicago was in the water picture of the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century.

September 2, 2001: H2NO Coca Cola Campaign

0902 H2NOSeptember 2, 2001:  An article published in the New York Times on this date reported on the H2NO campaign by Coca-Cola.  H2NO refers to a effort by Coca-Cola to dissuade consumers from ordering tap water drinks at restaurants, and to instead order more profitable soft drinks, non-carbonated beverages, or bottled water. The campaign’s title, H2NO, reflects the program’s purpose, which is to have customers say No to H2O, the chemical formula for water. The program taught waiters how to use “suggestive selling techniques” to offer an onslaught of alternative beverages when diners asked for water.

September 1, 1821: Water Supplies on the Sante Fe Trail

0901 Santa Fe TrailSeptember 1, 1821: “On September 1, 1821, Captain William Becknell and a party of traders left Arrow Rock, Missouri, to trade horses and mules with American Indians and hunt wild game on the plains. The expedition met a troop of Mexican soldiers in November and traveled with them to Santa Fe, where they were greeted warmly. Their trade goods, including calico and other printed cloth, sold at high prices in the isolated Spanish town. The Becknell party returned to Missouri on January 30, 1822, after only 48 days travel. Profits from the expedition were so high that other trading ventures were organized almost immediately. Thus began the lucrative trade along the Santa Fe Trail….

[One dangerous segment of the trail was an] approximate 50 to 60 mile stretch [that] was usually devoid of water during the dry season and was considered by those who traveled the region to be traversed without delay. Not only was water a scarce commodity but also the trail markings were invisible with no landmarks to guide the traveler. It was not until the mid-1830s, during an uncommonly wet year, that wagons were to leave their imprints in the form of permanent ruts. It was only then that the trail could be traveled with any degree of certainty.”

Part true and part legend…After running out of water, the men had tried everything from killing their dogs and their mules’ ears to drink their blood, when they spotted a buffalo evidently gorged with water. They killed the animal and drank the water from its stomach. They followed its tracks to water, thereby saving the expedition.”

Commentary: Now that is what I call water reuse.

0901 Trinidad and TobagoSeptember 1, 1965: The Water and Sewerage Authority of Trinidad and Tobago was formed by an act of Parliament to manage the areas of: Hollis, Arena and the Navet dams in Trinidad. WASA is now the sole water and sewerage provider in Trinidad and Tobago. WASA also maintains the Hillsborough Reservoir along with various other freshwater wells in the aid of providing municipal drinking water for needs of the country. The purview of the authority also extends to the country’s sewage treatment plants.

August 31, 1918: Service Line Materials, Lead is Everywhere

0831 Service line materials 1August 31, 1918: Municipal Journal article. Selection of Material for Service Pipes. “Service connections generally give more trouble to the superintendent than any other part of the water works system. This trouble is of two kinds, one being the deterioration of the quality of the water, the other consisting of leaks and stoppages. To minimize these troubles, the selection and laying of service pipes and the appurtenances combined with them should receive the most careful consideration of the superintendent….

About a year ago a committee of the New England Water Works Association collected some statistics about service pipe, mostly from New England States. These showed that 22 cities had abandoned the use of uncoated iron or steel pipe, 11 of them adopting galvanized, 4 adopting lead, 3 lead-lined, and 4 cement-lined. Seventeen had changed from galvanized to other kinds, 7 of these to lead, 7 to lead-lined, 2 to cement-lined, and 1 to enameled. Six had abandoned lead pipe, 4 of them for galvanized and 2 for cement-lined. Eight had abandoned lead-lined pipe, 5 for galvanized, 2 for cement-lined and 1 for uncoated iron or steel. Twenty-seven had abandoned cement-lined, 16 for galvanized, 6 for lead and 5 for lead-lined. The changes from plain ungalvanized pipes were made almost entirely on account of rust. Changes from lead pipes were largely on account of the possibility of lead poisoning, although in some cases it was on account of expense or because the pipes did not have sufficient strength. Lead-lined pipe was abandoned on account of lead poisoning and trouble from bursting and because of the difficulty of making joints that will not corrode.

Statistics collected by Municipal Journal in 1915 showed that, of 421 cities reporting 136 used wrought pipe exclusively and 130 for a part of their services: 144 used lead pipe exclusively and 130 for a part of the services; 4 used lead-lined pipe exclusively and 10 for part of the services: 1 used cement-lined pipe exclusively and 21 for part of the services; 1 used brass exclusively and 1 for part of the services, and 2 used tin-lined in part. Of those using lead for part of the services, 11 used it under paved streets, most of them using wrought pipe elsewhere. Lead-lined pipe appeared to be used largely and cement-lined exclusively in New England. Massachusetts was the most catholic using every kind of pipe reported.”

Commentary: From this article and the one published yesterday (August 30), it is clear that water system managers and operators knew the dangers of lead pipe in the 19th and early 20th century. The fact that it was still widely used in some cities into the 1980s and 1990s is astonishing on many levels. Of course, Washington, DC remains the poster child for how not to deal with a lead service line problem.

August 30, 1895: Birth of Alvin Percy Black; 1861: Lead Poisoning

0830 AP BlackAugust 30, 1895: Birth of Alvin P. Black. “Born in Blossom, Texas, in 1895, Alvin earned a B.S. Degree at Southwestern University, completed graduate studies at Iowa State College and Harvard, and received his Doctorate Degree from the University of Iowa. During World War I, he served in the Chemical Warfare Service; following that, he joined the faculty of the University of Florida in 1920 as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. During his tenure there, Dr. Black earned national and international recognition in the field of water chemistry. He served as a consultant to numerous municipalities throughout the country since 1935.

Dr. Black joined the American Water Works Association in 1929 and served as both National Director and President. He also served as a member of the National Advisory Dental Research Council of the U.S. Public Health Service, and was appointed by the Surgeon General of the United States as one of the original members of the Advisory Committee on Coagulant Aids in water treatment. Dr. Black also served as a national consultant to the Office of Saline Water of the Department of the Interior. He is considered, today, a pioneer in the design of water treatment systems.

Dr. Black was the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his work and contributions to the development of systems and techniques in the field of water purification and distribution. He was one of the original founders, along with William B. Crow and Frederic A. Eidsness, of Black, Crow and Eidsness, which became part of CH2M HILL in 1977. He passed away on February 23, 1980, at the age of 84.”

Commentary: In 2009, I was honored to receive the A.P. Black Research Award from the American Water Works Association. Shortly after the award was announced, I received a phone call from John V. Miner who said Doc Black was a friend, mentor and second father to him. He was kind enough to place into my care a book entitled Collected Works of A.P. Black—1933-1966. The book of Doc Black’s papers was put together by Ed Singley (a colleague and friend of mine) and Ching-lin Chen, both students of Doc Black. John Miner asked that I keep the book for as long as I wanted to but then pass it on to another. The inscription on the flyleaf of the book reads: “To one of my sons, John Miner from Doc Black, his second Dad.”

Lead service line attached to a household water meter

Lead service line attached to a household water meter

August 30, 1861: New York Times headline–Fifty Prisoners in the County Jail Poisoned by Drinking Water Impregnated with Carbonate of Lead. “On Tuesday night last, about twenty of the prisoners confined in the Kings County Jail, were seized with vomiting and purging, accompanied by other symptoms, indicating that they had partaken of some deadly poison. Dr. Charles A. Van Zandt, the Jail Physician, was at once sent for by the keepers and by judicious management succeeded in saving the lives of all attacked, numbering, up to yesterday, about 50 of the inmates of the jail. When Dr. Van Zandt examined the first case, he was considerable puzzled to know in what manner the prisoners had been poisoned, but after a while he arrived at the conclusion that it must have been from the Ridgewood water, with which the jail is supplied throughout, in the common lead pipe. Fortunately he hit upon the right cause and was able to neutralize the reflects of the poison. He at once ordered the Ridgewood water to be cut off, and directed that well water — of which there is an abundance on the premises — should be used.”

August 29, 1924: Richmond, Virginia Filter Plant Completed

1924 Richmond, Virginia grocery store

1924 Richmond, Virginia grocery store

August 29, 1924: A complete filtration plant is finally built in Richmond, Virginia. Albert Stein built the first effort to filter a drinking water supply in the U.S. in Richmond in 1832. However the filtration plant was not successful and it was abandoned in 1835. Other efforts were made over the years to treat the Richmond water supply.

“Although Richmond did nothing effective to improve its water supply until well into the twentieth century, settling basins were proposed from time to time. In 1860, the city council asked the superintendent, Davis, and its city engineer, W. Gill, to make plans for a new reservoir “with a proper filter.” They proposed filters cleaned by reverse flow. A new reservoir was put in use January I, 1876. Later, under Superintendent Charles E. Bolling, and the health officer, two narrow settling basins, about a mile long, with provision for drawing off the sediment alternately, were provided. On December 22, 1909, large coagulation basins were added. Chlorination with hypochlorite was begun June 26, 1913, on Levy’s recommendation, following a few cases of typhoid fever in Richmond. In 1914, apparatus for applying liquid chlorine was installed. But not until August 29, 1924, was a complete purification plant available, with coagulation basins, mechanical filters, aerators and a clear-water basin, for the whole of 30-mgd capacity.”

Reference: Baker, Moses N. 1981. The Quest for Pure Water: the History of Water Purification from the Earliest Records to the Twentieth Century. 2nd Edition. Vol. 1. Denver, Co.: American Water Works Association, 130-1.