June 28

U.S. Army Cantonment

U.S. Army Cantonment

June 28, 1917:  Municipal Journal article. Preparation of Water Supply for Army. “San Diego, Cal.-The [local] health department has received the following communication from the state board of health signed by C. G. Gillespie, director of the bureau of sanitary engineering: ‘While the San Diego supply easily surpasses any other surface source in California in the amount of laboratory and field supervision given, we are anxious that it be placed in the rank of the best in the country. This is most imperative now by reason of the location of a large army cantonment in your midst. I believe that we shall insist upon chlorination of all water furnished to the troops. In addition, laboratory facilities should be hastened to enable your office to make daily analysis of samples collected on each individual supply, both before and after treatment. Occasionally the sampling should be done early in the day to check up night operation. Within a few weeks I plan to return to San Diego to devote entire attention to the water system. It is hoped that you will have prepared new forms and begun the more systematic collection of pertinent data by that time. I beg to report that we appreciate the steps along this line now undertaken and the good showing in the absence of B. coli with the present frequency of sampling.’”

Commentary:  This article is interesting because the State of California has obviously extended its regulatory powers over a water supply for a federal facility—an army camp constructed to train soldiers for the first world war. In due time, the Department of the Army would take over those responsibilities.

2 thoughts on “June 28

  1. Catherine Ma

    Thank you for this thought- provoking historic brief on water history. I enjoyed reading the letter issued C.G. Gillespie to the City of San Diego in 1917. Gillespie was the very first Chief of the Bureau of Sanitary Engineering established by state statue in 1915. He served as the state water engineer from 1915-1947. In those olden days BSE had charge for both water and sewage programs until the Dickey Water Act of 1949 that separated the sewage program from BSE by creating the State Water Resources Control Board. Dickey Act provided the “checks-and-balances” as a direct result of 34 (1915-1949) years of lessons learned to NOT “common trenching” both water and sewage programs together. Since each of these programs have unique, different and oftentimes conflicting priorities, necessary checks-and-balances must be set in place in order to protect public health – the primary function of the drinking water program. Alas, 64 years later today – AB145 is now threatening to REVERSE its course by going backward : Putting our water program under the State Board and reverting back to a COMMON TRENCH structure again. This will effectively dismantle California’s drinking water program. AB145 is not a public health protective way of living.
    Most of us are very foruntate to have access and use of safe, potable and healthful drinking water supply and never have to think twice about the backbone that supports and preserves the integrity of our drinking water program for as long as we can remember now. However,our water program is truly under attack today under the proposed AB145. I hope more of us will become aware of the potential ramifications of this legislation and do everything we can to preserve the public health function of our drinking water program. We must not agree to transfer regulatory control of our drinking water program to the State Board.

    1. safedrinkingwaterdotcom Post author

      Catherine–Thank you for your comment. I did not know that early history of the BSE. I agree with you completely about keeping the drinking water program in the State Health Dept. AB 145 is wrong and we should all do what we can to stop it.


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