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

1210 Theobald SmithDecember 10, 1934: Death 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.”

Fermentation TubeCommentary: 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.

1210 Hugh Myddleton diesDecember 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

Barrel Hoops

December 10, 1910: Municipal 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.

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