December 15, 2014: Death of Ken Kerri; 1989: Cabool, Missouri Outbreak; 1909: Water Quality Stories; 1909: Filtration Definitions

December 15, 2014:Dr. Ken Kerri, the founder of the Office of Water Programs, passed on the morning of December 15, 2014. The academic community and the water industry were made better by his energetic contributions over the course of 50 years. Professor Ken Kerri was a faculty member in the Department of Civil Engineering at California State University, Sacramento, for almost 40 years before retiring from teaching in 1997. During his teaching career, Ken mentored hundreds of civil engineering students, and both the students and faculty have recognized his special contributions by awarding him many distinguished honors.

In 1972, Professor Kerri was a pioneer in establishing the Office of Water Programs, which is now recognized as the leading national training program for the operators and managers of drinking water and wastewater plants and facilities. Over one million operator and manager training manuals have been sold throughout the world, and some have been translated into many foreign languages. Because of Ken’s tireless efforts, this unique training program brings special recognition to the university. As Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering, Ken continued to be active with the Office of Water Programs, as chief project consultant, further developing the catalog of training materials and looking for opportunities to expand services.

Dr. Kerri also continued to be active in many professional organizations and received numerous awards in recognition of his outstanding service to the profession. In August 2014, the Water Environment Federation inducted Dr. Kerri into the WEF Fellows Program in the category of Education/Research. He was also the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award by the Sacramento State Alumni Association. As part of his legacy to the university community, he leaves the Ken Kerri Endowment Fund, which will continue to honor a lifetime of achievement and contribution to the field of civil engineering by a man who was deeply committed to and energetic about his lifelong, professional endeavors.”

E. coli O157:H7

December 15, 1989: Cabool, Missouri outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. “Case patients were residents of or visitors to Burdine Township [adjacent to Cabool, Missouri] with bloody diarrhea or diarrhea and abdominal cramps occurring between 15 December 1989 and 20 January 1990…. Among the 243 case patients, 86 had bloody stools, 32 were hospitalized, 4 died, and 2 had the hemolytic uremic syndrome. In the case-control study, no food was associated with illness, but ill persons had drunk more municipal water than had controls (P = 0.04). The survey showed that, during the peak of the outbreak, bloody diarrhea was 18.2 times more likely to occur in persons living inside the city and using municipal water than in persons living outside the city and using private well water (P = 0.001). Shortly before the peak of the outbreak, 45 water meters were replaced, and two water mains ruptured. The number of new cases declined rapidly after residents were ordered to boil water and after chlorination of the water supply. This was the largest outbreak of ECO157 infections [at the time], the first due to a multiply resistant organism, and the first shown to be transmitted by water.”

Commentary:  One of the largest outbreaks of waterborne disease in the U.S. in modern times. E. coli O157:H7 was just being recognized as a waterborne pathogen. A significant outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada in 2000 was caused by the same pathogen.

References:  Swerdlow, D.L. et al. 1992. “A waterborne outbreak in Missouri of Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with bloody diarrhea and death.” Ann Intern Med.117(10):(Nov 15): 812-9.

Geldreich, E.E., et al. 1992. “Searching for a water supply connection in the Cabool, Missouri disease outbreak of Escherichia coli 0157:H7.” Water Research. 26:8 1127-37.

December 15, 1909:  Municipal Journal and Engineer articles about water supply and water quality in the early 20th century.

Well Water is Cause of Typhoid Epidemic. Concordia, Kan.-The source of typhoid infection in this city has been located in the well water that has been used by the people in the infected block. All of the families in which a case of the fever has developed have been using well water for drinking purposes. The doctors attending the cases are of the opinion that the city water is free from typhoid fever germs.

Tannic Acid in City Water. Knoxville, Tenn.-.Members of the Knoxville Water Commission are somewhat disturbed over the impurities now found in the Tennessee river water owing largely to the refuse of a tannery which .is being poured into the French Broad river at Newport. At times the water coming out of the French Broad is almost black, owing to the tannic acid. This is killing the fish in the river and it is thought the water with this impurity in it is deleterious to health….Local sportsmen, who are interested in the preservation of the game fish in the river, have also taken the matter up. Commentary:  This is an early concern about surface water quality that was not related to human health.

Proposed Tunnel Profile

Water Tunnel Under New York City. New York, N. Y.-The Board of Estimates has adopted plans for building a $30,000,000 tunnel in solid rock under Manhattan Island to distribute the water supply from the Catskill system, The report of a committee of engineers to whom the matter has been referred was that the original pipe line plan would cost $10,000,000, whereas the new tunnel plan would cost $25,000,000 or more. However, there is estimated to be a saving in the cost of connecting mains amounting to 50 per cent. The tunnel is to be 17 ½, miles long beginning at Hill View Reservoir, north of the New York City line at an elevation of -20, where the diameter will be 17 ½, feet. Through the city the elevation will range from -140 to -600, according to the solidity of the rock through which it goes. Under the East River, where the tunnel crosses to Brooklyn, the diameter will be 11 feet.

Commentary:  This was the first of three tunnels built by New York City for water supply—a unique and impressive engineering marvel.

Will Try Chemical Purification. Hartford, Conn.-Engineer E. M. Peck of the Water Department has been authorized by the Board to conduct experiments in the chemical purification of river water, to see if it can be made safe for use in the lower part of the city, should the supply in the reservoirs fail. This is the chemical treatment used at Harrisburg, which city the engineer, President Henry Roberts and Secretary Fred D. Berry recently visited.

Commentary:  Dr. John L. Leal was hired by the city to conduct these studies. He presented his findings to the water department on March 28, 1910.

Reference:  Municipal Journal and Engineer. 1909. 27:24(December 15, 1909): 896-7.

Slow Sand Filters At Portsmouth, UK 1927

December 15, 1909:  Municipal Journal and Engineer article–Mechanical Water Filtration. “There are two general classes of water filtration. In one of these a large part of the purification is performed by bacteria, the process involving a slow passage of the water through sand or a similar fine-grained mass [slow sand filtration]. In this there is practically no pressure head, but the water simply trickles through the interstices, although in a greater or less time a collection of mud and fibrous and other organic matter collects on the surface and a slight head of water is necessary for forcing the water to be purified through this material. This was the method of purification originally adopted in England, and is sometimes called the English method.

In mechanical filtration [rapid sand filtration or granular media filtration] the water is passed under greater pressure and at much higher rates of speed through sand or similar material, and the purification is entirely one of straining. Owing to the high speed, however, and the absence of any mat on the surface, it is found necessary to introduce a coagulant into the water before it reaches the filter. This coagulant collects together the suspended matters in the water, including a large percentage of the bacteria, and the suspended matter thus coagulated is strained out by the filter….

The mechanical filters were apparently so named because of the entirely mechanical nature of the purification as distinguished from bacteriological, and because of the fact that the entire apparatus was, in effect, a mechanism of iron and steel, while the English filters consisted of outdoor beds of sand simply retained by earthen banks or stone walls.”

Reference: “Mechanical Water Filtration.” 1909. Municipal Journal and Engineer, 27:24(December 15, 1909): 893.

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December 14, 1928: Sewage treatment plant at Boonton; 1853: Founding of Compagnie Générale des Eaux

Boonton Dam and Spillway

December 14, 1928: Start of operation of sewage treatment plant at Boonton Reservoir. “In 1925, a trunk sewer intercepting the wastes from Dover, Boonton and smaller habitations in New Jersey on the Rockaway River was completed.  Continuing to confound and delay water and sewer development in the watershed, the Morris Canal figured into the final plan for sewers.  The alignment for the intercepting sewer included part of the right-of-way for the Morris Canal and the canal had to be abandoned before the sewer could be completed. At about the same time, a sewage treatment plant at Boonton was finished. The plant employed the trickling filter method of sewage treatment followed by sand filtration and chlorination of the plant’s effluent.  Because of a number of delays, the sewage treatment plant was not put into operation until December 14, 1928.”

Reference:  McGuire, Michael J. 2013. The Chlorine Revolution:  Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives. Denver, CO:American Water Works Association, Chapter 11.

Imperial Decree from Napoleon III Establishing Compagnie Generale des Eaux

December 14, 1853:  Founding of Compagnie Générale des Eaux (now Veolia). “Compagnie Générale des Eaux is founded and obtains its first public service concession to supply water to the city of Lyons. On the initiative of Napoleon III and throughout the entire Second Empire, the creation of private companies to operate the urban water systems opens the way for modernization and enhances the quality of life in towns and cities. Count Henri Siméon embodies this dynamism when he founds the Compagnie Générale des Eaux in 1853: ‘In the new times ahead, be certain, sirs, that millions will be allotted to the supply of water, just as millions were allocated to railways previously.’

December 13, 1899: Death of Julius W. Adams

December 13, 1899:  Julius W. Adams dies. Julius Walker Adams was a noted civil engineer who planned the sewer system for Brooklyn, New York. He was also one of the first engineers who conceived the idea of building the Brooklyn Bridge. For several years he was Consulting Engineer of the Board of City Works, Brooklyn, and also consulted on the distribution of water in New York City. He found time to edit Engineering News and was President of the American Society of Civil Engineers from 1874-5. Adams was the last surviving member of the twelve founders of ASCE. He was a member of the New York Academy of Science and of the Association for the Advancement of Science.

December 12, 2004: Healing Waters of Japan—Watered Down

December 12, 2004New York Times headline—Watering Down the Healing Waters of Japan. “For foreigners, it is a time-honored image of Japan: a meditative soak in the mineral waters of a hot spring, preferably pondering jagged black volcanic rocks, a bough of cherry blossoms, or even, for the most luxurious, the snow-streaked slopes of Mount Fuji. Few knew that offstage, hotel employees might be surreptitiously piping in heated tap water, recycling old water between natural rock pools or even dumping coloring powders into water to make it look rich in minerals.

For Japanese, who cherish the cleansing, calming and healing mystique of a hot spring, or onsen, vacation, the scandal has almost been as traumatic as Japan’s dispatch of soldiers to Iraq. After a steady drumbeat of confessions and apologies from hot spring owners, this fall the Environment Ministry conducted a survey of water use practices at 19,445 onsens. The results confirmed some of the worst fears of customers, often women who are office workers in their 30’s and who cling to hygienic standards bordering on perfection.

Though anonymity was guaranteed, 40 percent of the nation’s hot spring owners declined to respond to the survey. Of the respondents, about a third said they diluted their hot spring baths with tap water, half said they recycled their water through filters, and half said they heated their water.

Some said they diluted the water to cool it as it boiled out of the earth. Others, more geothermically challenged, resorted to heating the water with industrial gas heaters. About 80 percent of the resorts that admitted to following these practices said they did not inform patrons. While the mineral content of spa water can change, 30 percent of those responding said they had not had their water analyzed in more than 10 years. National laws governing hot springs are vague, and most of these practices are not considered violations.

Weekly newspapers like The Shukan Post have dug deeper, discovering, in one case, a resort town where several spas used as their spa water the condensate from a geothermal power plant. In another town, a spa owner heated tap water, ran it over mineral ores and billed it as mineral water.

These and other reports have shocked the Japanese, who treat their mineral baths with respect bordering on reverence. Japanese universally shower, scrub and rinse themselves before stepping into a hot spring pool or bath. Police raids, the resignation of one resort town’s mayor and the temporary closing of several hotels did not stem the national backlash. Cancellations of thousands of reservations have rippled through the hot springs resort industry. Some customers demanded refunds for past onsen vacations.”

Commentary:  In October 1987, 100 international experts in the field of taste and odor in water supplies met in Kagoshima, Japan. The meeting was sponsored by the Off-Flavour Committee of the International Association on Water and Pollution Research and Control (forerunner of the International Water Association). Wednesday of the week-long conference was reserved for field trips to aquaculture farms and water treatment plants. I had seen plenty of both in my many trips in the U.S. and abroad and I was looking for something that was a lot more fun. A friend of mine who is a world-class photographer had published a book about Japanese baths. When he heard that I was going to Kagoshima, he urged me to visit the Jungle Baths. I was not exactly sure what they were, but I was game for an adventure.

I enlisted the aid of our interpreter and I surreptitiously canvassed about 12 of my convention attendees. They were all for it. We rented a van and made the three-hour drive to visit the amazing Jungle Baths which were located south of the city of Kagoshima. It is a resort complex capable of handling several thousand people on the weekends, but during the week it was practically empty. The baths were located in a covered area about the size of three football fields—men on one side and women on the other and bathing suits not allowed. We had a great time sampling all of the pools of different temperatures and levels of salinity. At one point, we were buried up to our necks in hot, black volcanic sand. It was an experience not unlike that of a baked potato. At the end, I took a group picture of the men draped over a fountain with appropriate pieces of personal geography covered. I still have that picture. These experts on taste and odor know who they are. My price for continued discretion is a very large number per person. I will accept only small denomination bills with non-sequential serial numbers.

December 11, 1843: Birth of Robert Koch; December 11, 1913: Abolish Common Towel and Cup…and other amazing stories

December 11, 1843: Birth of Robert Koch “Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch (11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) was a German physician and microbiologist. As the founder of modern bacteriology, he is known for his role in identifying the specific causative agents of tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax and for giving experimental support for the concept of infectious disease. In addition to his innovative studies on these diseases, which involved experimenting on humans, Koch created and improved laboratory technologies and techniques in the field of microbiology, and made key discoveries in public health. His research led to the creation of Koch’s postulates, a series of four generalized principles linking specific microorganisms to specific diseases that remain today the “gold standard” in medical microbiology. As a result of his groundbreaking research on tuberculosis, Koch received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1905. The Robert Koch Institute is named in his honour.”

December 11, 1913: Municipal Journal Articles. Below are some interesting articles from over 100 years ago about water supply and water safety.

Abolish Common Towel and Cup. Harrisburg, Pa.-Common cups and towels have been banished by the State Board of Health. Anyone violating the new regulation is liable to a fine of $100. Glasses that have been used must be washed in boiling water, and towels must always be freshly laundered. Dr. Dixon, State Commissioner of Health, states that many communicable diseases can thereby be avoided.

Open Water System. South Orange, N. J.-The Village of South Orange, with its 6,000 inhabitants, is obtaining 1ts water supply from its new municipally-owned artesian wells and pumping plant. The ceremonies marking the opening of the system were in charge of Village President Francis Speir, Jr….The plant includes a number of artesian wells in the valley below First Mountain, from which the water is carried by large pipes to a reservoir on top of the mountain. The reservoir is hewn out of solid rock and holds 50,000,000 gallons.

Reservoir Dam Breaks. Abilene, Tex.-A break has occurred in the dam at Syth Lake Reservoir, effecting a great gap through which 600,000,000 gallons of water escaped. A large section of the land bordering on the reservoir was badly flooded. The city of Abilene had to go without water and for that reason the electric power plant was forced to shut down its boilers. The manufacturing plants were also unable to operate.

Hydrants to be Standardized. Oak Point, Cal.-An important improvement was ordered for this district by Commissioner of Public Works E. M. Wilder. Wilder has directed that all hydrants be standardized so that the same size wrench or spanner may open any of the hydrants in this district. Recently many complaints have been filed on account of broken nuts on the hydrants, caused by the use of different kinds of wrenches.

Reference: Municipal Journal. 1913. 35:24(December 11, 1913): 800.

December 10, 1934: Death of Theobald Smith; 1631: Death of Hugh Myddleton; 1910: Protest Against Impure Water; 1910: Snow Removal and Barrel Hoops

December 10, 1934Death of Theobald Smith.Theobald Smith (July 31, 1859 – December 10, 1934) was a pioneering epidemiologist and pathologist and is widely-considered to be America’s first internationally-significant medical research scientist.”

“Theobald Smith recognized the multiple applications of microbiology but was far keener on its contribution to sanitation, public health, and preventive medicine than to veterinary medicine and agriculture. From 1886 to 1895, he gave an annual course in bacteriology at the National Medical College, and in 1887 he began research in his spare time on water sanitation. Bacterial counts of samples from the Potomac River from a laboratory tap culminated 5 years later in surveys of the Hudson River and tributaries, with the coliform count (verified by his “fermentation tube” method) indicating the degree of fecal pollution.”

Commentary:  He was also responsible for inventing the fermentation tube that to this day is called the Smith Tube. Theobald Smith was certainly the “Father of the total coliform test.”

Reference:  Dolman, C.E. 1984. “Theobald Smith, 1859-1934:  A Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute.” ASM News. 50:12 577-80.

December 10, 1631:  Death of Sir Hugh Myddleton. “In 1609 Myddelton took over from the corporation of London the projected scheme for supplying the city with water obtained from springs near Ware, in Hertfordshire. For this purpose he made a canal about 10 feet (3 m) wide and 4 feet (1.2 m) deep and more than 38 miles (61 km) in length. The canal discharged its waters into a reservoir at Islington called the New River Head. The completion of this great undertaking put a severe strain upon Myddelton’s financial resources, and in 1612 he was successful in securing monetary assistance from James I. The work was completed in 1613, and Myddelton was made the first governor of the company, which, however, was not a financial success until after his death. In recognition of his services he was made a baronet in 1622.”

In the early 17th Century, London’s population had exploded and sanitation was a serious problem. Almost 35 miles long and taking five years to construct, Myddleton’s artificial New River diverted clean water from the River Lea in Hertfordshire to Clerkenwell in the city of London. It had an almost instantaneous benefit. By 1614, deaths, which can now be attributed to water-borne infections, had halved on the previous year…Although it has been shortened and now ends at Stoke Newington, around two million Londoners still depend on it for their drinking water.”

December 10, 1910: Municipal Journal article—Protest Against Impure Water. New Albany, Ind.-Col. Charles L. Jewett, acting for the law department of the city of New Albany, has filed with the Indiana Public Service Commission in Indianapolis a petition asking for the investigation by the commission of the water supply furnished by the New Albany Waterworks Company. It is alleged in the petition that the water is not pure and wholesome, and that the company has not complied with the terms of its contract and franchise, granted August 26, 1904, and for more than three years has failed, neglected and refused to furnish the city pure and wholesome water, as its contract specifically provided. The petitioner avers that the water company has furnished nothing but impure and unwholesome water, containing large amounts of mud, filth, sewage, industrial waste and other foreign matter. The petitioner asks that an investigation be made by the Public Service Commission, and that an order be entered requiring the water company to make improvements, additions and changes in its system.

Commentary:  A similar lawsuit was by Jersey City, NJ against the Jersey City Water Supply Company in 1905.

Barrel Hoops

December 10, 1910Municipal Journal article— Snow Removal by Sewers. One of the important conclusions of the snow cleaning conference, which are given in this issue, was the advisability of placing snow in the sewers as a means of removal. But it seems to us that it should have been explicitly stated that only clean snow should be placed in the sewers; and this generally means freshly fallen snow. The amount of dirt of ail kinds which accumulates on snow is about as great as-often greater than-that which would accumulate on the street in the same time; and to shovel in snow two, three or even six days after the beginning of the storm (when street cleaning ceased) is no more justifiable than to throw into the sewers the combined street sweepings of that number of days, including the sticks, barrel hoops and other large and heavy articles which will be found in many snow banks.

Commentary:  Barrel hoops? I guess nowadays an article like this would warn against dumping snow with shopping carts in it.

Reference:  Municipal Journal. 1914. 37:24(December 10, 1914): 848, 853.

December 9, 1785: Albert Stein Born; 1832: William J. Magie Dies

December 9, 1785: Birth of Albert Stein in Dusseldorf, Prussia.  In Richmond, Virginia, Albert Stein was responsible for building the first slow sand filter in the U.S. for municipal supply. “Albert Stein was born in Dusseldorf, Prussia, December 9, 1785. After being educated as a civil engineer, he began work on a topographical survey of the Rhenish Provinces. In 1807, he was appointed hydraulic engineer by Murat, then Grand Duke of Berg by the favor of Napoleon I, whose cavalry had been led by Murat. After the fall of Napoleon and the cession of the duchy to Prussia, Stein resigned his position and came to America. He reached Philadelphia in 1816, where he seems to have had some relation with Frederic Graff, Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works. In 1817, Stein submitted plans for a water works at Cincinnati. About that time, also, he made surveys for a canal from Cincinnati to Dayton. For a few years beginning in 1824 he was engineer for deepening the tidal section of the Appomattox River at and below Petersburg, Va. He was engineer for water works at Lynchburg, Va., in 1828-30. While building the Richmond [filtration] works, Stein designed for Nashville, Tenn., a water works which was completed in 1832. In the period 1834-40, Stein was at New Orleans, building a reservoir for the water works there, a canal from the city to Lake Pontchartrain, and making a survey and plan for the improvement of the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi. In 1840 he leased a small, privately owned water works system at Mobile, Ala., which he improved and operated. He died July 26, 1874, on his estate at Spring Hill near Mobile.”

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.

Jersey City Chlorination Facility at Boonton Reservoir

December 9, 1832:  Birth of William J. Magie. William J. Magie was selected by Vice Chancellor Frederic W. Stevens to hear the second part of the Jersey City trials.  In 1899, Jersey City, New Jersey contracted for the construction of a new water supply on the Rockaway River. The water supply included a dam, reservoir and 23-mile pipeline and was completed on May 4, 1904. City officials were not pleased with the project as delivered by the private water company and filed a lawsuit in the Chancery Court of New Jersey. The second trial was devoted, in part, to a determination of whether chlorine could be used to make the water pure and wholesome before it was delivered to Jersey City.

One might assume that someone relatively junior might be appointed as the Special Master to hear the highly technical and excruciatingly long arguments from both sides of the case.  Not so.  William Jay Magie was one of the most revered judges of this time period.  He took the role of Special Master in 1908 after completing 8 years as Chancellor of the Court of Chancery.  Prior to that, he was a member of the New Jersey Senate (1876-1878), Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court (1880-1897) and Chief Justice of the same court from 1897 to 1900.

“As a trial judge his cases were handled with notable success, as he had ample experience in trying causes before juries and a just appreciation of the worth of human testimony…” Judge Magie needed all of his powers of appreciation of human testimony in the second trial, which boiled down to which of the expert witnesses could be believed when both sides marshaled some of the most eminent doctors and engineers in the land.

Judge Magie was born on December 9, 1832 in Elizabeth, New Jersey and lived his life in that town.  He graduated from Princeton College in 1852 and studied law under an attorney in Elizabeth.  He was admitted to the bar of New Jersey in 1856.  At the time of the second trial in 1908 he was 76 years old and near the end of his distinguished career.

Magie’s key ruling in the second trial was captured in the following quote:  “I do therefore find and report that this device is capable of rendering the water delivered to Jersey City, pure and wholesome, for the purposes for which it is intended, and is effective in removing from the water those dangerous germs which were deemed by the decree to possibly exist therein at certain times.”

References:

McGuire, Michael J. 2013. The Chlorine Revolution:  Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives. Denver, CO:American Water Works Association.

Magie, William J. 1910. In Chancery of New Jersey: Between the Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City, Complainant, and the Jersey City Water Supply Co., Defendant. Report for Hon. W.J. Magie, special master on cost of sewers, etc., and on efficiency of sterilization plant at Boonton. (Case Number 27/475-Z-45-314): 1–15. Jersey City, N.J.: Press Chronicle Co.