February 10, 1907: Colorado River Levee Repaired—End of Salton Sea Influent Supply; 1990: Perrier Water Recalled

Railroad trestles built across the breach; used to dump rock into the breach

February 10, 1907:  Colorado River Levee Repaired. In late 1904, water from the Colorado River started leaking from irrigation ditches built for the Imperial Valley into what would become the Salton Sea. After a flood on the Colorado River, the sea filled, and it would take two years of effort with many missteps to close the breach and control withdrawals from the River.

Commentary:  There are several accounts of how the breach in the banks of the Colorado River was repaired. One account by Laflin puts the repair date as January 27, 1907. Another by Kennan stated that the dumping of rock from the first trestle began on January 27 and was completed on February 10, 1907. Go to the January 27 blog post for Laflin’s account. Thanks to Ellen Lloyd Trover for bringing this to my attention. Here is Kennan’s version.

Dumping rock to heal breach in Colorado River levee

“The crevasse, at that time, was 1100 feet wide, with a maximum depth of forty feet, and the whole current of the Colorado was rushing through it and discharging into the basin of the Sink about 160,000,000 cubic feet of water every hour…

…so the Southern Pacific engineers determined to build two railway trestles of ninety-foot piles across the break, and then, with a thousand flat cars and “battleships,” bring rocks and dump them into the river faster than they could possibly be swallowed up by the silt or carried downstream. Three times, within a month, the ninety-foot piles were ripped out and swept away and the trestles partly or wholly destroyed; but the pile-drivers kept at work, and on the 27th of January the first trestle was finished for the fourth time and the dumping of rock from it began…

The crevasse was closed and the river forced into its old bed on the 10th of February 1907, fifty two days after President Roosevelt appealed to Mr. Harriman, and fifteen days after the first “battleship” load of rock was dumped from the first completed trestle.”

Reference:  Kennan, George. 1917. The Salton Sea:  An Account of Harriman’s Fight with the Colorado River.” New York:MacMillan.

February 10, 1990:  New York Timesheadline— Perrier Recalls Its Water in U.S. After Benzene Is Found in Bottles. by George James “The company that made bottled mineral water chic is voluntarily recalling its entire inventory of Perrier from store shelves throughout the United States after tests showed the presence of the chemical benzene in a small sample of bottles.

The impurity was discovered in North Carolina by county officials who so prized the purity of Perrier that they used it as a standard in tests of other water supplies.

The Food and Drug Administration said it is testing supplies in California and other states. In a written statement issued last night, Ronald V. Davis, president of the Perrier Group of America Inc., said there was no significant health risk to the public. But the statement did not go into the details of the recall, how it would work, the number of bottles to be recalled and the impact on a company that has built its success on its product’s image of purity and stylishness.

William M. Grigg, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, said his agency’s Hazard Evaluation Board had collected samples of Perrier and found no immediate risk to the public from the benzene in the water.”

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