January 18, 1825: Birth of Sir Edward Frankland; 1911: Sewer Explosion, Spitters and Sanitary Sewers

Sir Edward Frankland

January 18, 1825:  Birth of Sir Edward Frankland. “English chemist who was one of the first investigators in the field of structural chemistry, invented the chemical bond, and became known as the father of valency. He studied organometallic compounds – hybrid molecules of the familiar organic non-metallic elements (such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus) with true metals. By 1850, he had prepared small organic molecules containing such metals as zinc. Subsequently, he devised the theory of valence (announced 10 May 1852), that each type of atom has a fixed capacity for combination with other atoms. For his investigations on water purification and for his services to the government as water analyst, Frankland was knighted in 1897.”

Commentary: Frankland applied his theoretical discoveries directly to the analysis of water.

January 18, 1911:  Several interesting stories from the Municipal Journal and Engineer. “Sewer Explosion. Erie, Pa.-An explosion occurred in a sewer at the intersection of Twelfth and Cranberry streets, Jan. 4. Manhole covers were thrown high in the air, the roadway was torn up and telegraph poles thrown down. The explosion is attributed to gas or gasoline.

Anti-Spitting Ordinances to Be Rigidly Enforced. Walla Walla, Wash.-Chief of Police Mike Davis has announced that hereafter the anti-spitting ordinance will be rigidly enforced. By way of warning the large Red Cross anti-spitting cards will again be posted conspicuously about the city. One of the most impressive of these is the following: “A world without careless spitters would soon be a world without consumption.”

Commentary:While this is a blog about the history of water, it should be realized that at the same time that engineers and city leaders were trying to build treatment plants and sewage disposal facilities, they were also battling the scourge of tuberculosis. The anti-spitting campaign was one of the chief weapons in that fight.

Sanitary Sewer Connections with Storm Sewers Condemned. Duluth, Minn.-In the annual report which he filed with Health Commissioner H. E. Webster, Plumbing Inspector George Kreager strongly recommends a discontinuance of the practice of allowing sanitary sewer connections to be made with storm sewers. He declares that it has come to be a most serious problem to the city. He states that in the dry season the stench from the catch basins of storm sewers which have sanitary sewer connections emptying into them is ‘awful.’”

Reference: Municipal Journal and Engineer. 30:3(January 18, 1911) 90-1.

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