Tag Archives: Cuyahoga River

February 2, 1918: Sewage Plant Completion in Cleveland and Water Waste Survey

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

February 2, 1918:  Municipal Journalarticle. Ask Time Extension for Sewage Plant Completion. Cleveland, O. The city council has passed resolutions asking the state department of health for an extension of time in which to complete plants built to prevent the pollution of Lake Erie and Cuyahoga river. The state health department had ordered the city to install sewage works for preventing the pollution of the lake before Feb. 13, 1918. The city has already spent and has contracted for the expenditure of more than $700,000 for the construction of sewers and treatment works in accordance with the order. Because of delay in determining the legal status of a recent act of the legislature, which permitted the raising of the necessary funds authorized at a recent election and of much time consumed by necessary studies and investigations, the city asks extension of time until Feb. 13, 1920. In the case of the Cuyahoga river, the city had been originally ordered to stop pollution by July 1, 1915, and had then had the time extended to July 1, 1917, but now it requests a further extension until July 1, 1920.

Commentary: The reader may recall that we have marked several occasions when the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to the wastes dumped into it. Controlling sewage discharges did not fix all of the river’s problems.

Worker conducting leak survey

February 2, 1918:  Municipal Journalarticle. To Complete Water-Waste Survey. Buffalo, N. Y.-On the recommendation of commissioner Kreinheder council has authorized a complete survey of the city’s water waste at a cost of about $44,000. The Pitometer Company of New York is to do .the work along the plans followed by it in a partial survey made some time ago. George C. Andrews, water commissioner, estimates that the survey will result in an annual saving of $80,000 in coal bills and of about $40,000 in wages. The city has been divided into ten districts for the purposes of this survey, one of which has been covered. Two others will be completed in the spring.

Commentary:  Founded in 1897, the Pitometer Company (Associates) was in business for 99 years and helped cities save untold billions of gallons of water. In 1996, Severn Trent Environmental Services, Inc. acquired Pitometer Associates, Inc.

Reference:  Municipal Journal. 1918. 46:5(February 2, 1918): 98.

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November 1, 1836: Birth of Hiram Mills; 1952: Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

November 1, 1836Birth of Hiram Francis Mills.“Born in Bangor, Maine, in the year 1836 and receiving his early schooling there, the young Hiram Mills moved on to the newly-established Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute to be graduated before he was twenty. When he was in his middle thirties he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Essex Company, the corporate owner of the Merrimack River dam at Lawrence, Massachusetts. Ever research-minded, Mr. Mills induced the Essex Company to set up an outdoor laboratory on the riverbank below the power dam. Here was installed a long pipe of large diameter — stoutly supported and shed-covered — by means of which Mills proposed to carry out new and accurate measurements of water flow under varying structural conditions.

In the year 1886…he was appointed a member of the recently reorganized State Board of Health. At the first meeting he was chosen by his associates to be chairman of the Board’s Committee on Water Supplies and Sewage, and from hydraulics, Hiram Mills’ chief scientific concern in life turned to sanitation.

The law of 1886, re-creating the State Board of Health, empowered the members to investigate methods for the disposal of sewage, and Hiram Mills lost little time in seeing that the law’s intent was carried out. As the place for his projected studies in the best practical methods for safe sewage disposal, he persuaded the Essex Company to lend to Massachusetts — for a nominal rental — the experimental plant the company had created for his hydraulic researches. With State funds, a modest laboratory building was added to the existing structures, and the whole was renamed the Lawrence Experiment Station — the first research enterprise of its kind in our country.

It may fairly be said that the investigations which Mills was to plan and carry through to conclusion in this physically limited and always economically equipped plant laid the foundations for many of the scientific methods of treatment of municipal and industrial wastes. Instead of investing in elaborate equipment and costly facilities, Mills invested in brains, as frequently he was pleased to point out. To man his researches, Mr. Mills drew upon the faculty and recent graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and thus employing their varied scientific skills, he perfected a unique investigating team whose inventiveness and productiveness are not likely to be seen again.” (edited by MJM)

Members of the research team included George W. Fuller, Allen Hazen, William T. Sedgwick, and Thomas M. Drown.

November 1, 1952: Cuyahoga River catches fire. “In 1952, leaking oil from the Standard Oil Company facility was accused of creating, ‘the greatest fire hazard in Cleveland,’ a two inch thick oil slick on the river. In spots, the slick spanned the width of the river. Although many companies had taken action to limit oil seepage on the river, others failed to cooperate with fire officials.

It was only a matter of time before disaster struck. On the afternoon of November 1, 1952, the Cuyahoga ignited again near the Great Lakes Towing Company’s shipyard, resulting in a five-alarm fire. (Many sources incorrectly put the date of the fire at November 3, 1952) The next morning’s Cleveland Plain Dealer led with a banner headline, ‘Oil Slick Fire Ruins Flats Shipyard.’ Photos taken at the scene are incredible; the river was engulfed in smoke and flame. Losses were substantial, estimated between $500,000 and $1.5 million, including the Jefferson Avenue bridge. The only reason no one died was that it started on a Saturday afternoon, when few shipyard employees were on duty.”

Commentary: There was a long history of fires on the Cuyahoga—by one count a total of 13 with the first occurring in 1868. Other fires of note occurred in 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, and 1948. A relatively minor fire on June 22, 1969 was reported nationwide and became part of the impetus for passing the Clean Water Act in 1972.

June 22, 1969: Fire on the Cuyahoga River…Again

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

June 22, 1969:  The June 22, 1969 fire on the Cuyahogais the “seminal” event in the history of water pollution control in America, helping to spur the growth of the environmental movement and the passage of national environmental legislation. “Never before had an image so thoroughly driven home the deteriorating plight of our nation’s waterways,” one environmental group explained on the fire’s thirtieth anniversary. “The burning river mobilized the nation and became a rallying point for passage of the Clean Water Act.”17 Despite its national importance as a symbol of environmental decline, the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga was a relatively minor story in Cleveland at the time.18 For northeast Ohio, and indeed for many industrialized areas, burning rivers were nothing new, and the 1969 fire was less severe than prior Cuyahoga conflagrations. It was a little fire on a long-polluted river already embarked on the road to recovery.

Reference: Adler, Jonathan H. “Fables of the Cuyahoga: Reconstructing a History of Environmental Protection.” Fordham Environmental Law Journal. 14 (2003): 89-146.

Commentary: There was a long history of fires on the Cuyahoga—by one count a total of 13 with the first occurring in 1868. Other fires of note occurred in 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1948, and in 1952.

February 2, 1918: Sewage Plant Completion in Cleveland and Water Waste Survey

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

February 2, 1918:  Municipal Journal article. Ask Time Extension for Sewage Plant Completion. Cleveland, O. The city council has passed resolutions asking the state department of health for an extension of time in which to complete plants built to prevent the pollution of Lake Erie and Cuyahoga river. The state health department had ordered the city to install sewage works for preventing the pollution of the lake before Feb. 13, 1918. The city has already spent and has contracted for the expenditure of more than $700,000 for the construction of sewers and treatment works in accordance with the order. Because of delay in determining the legal status of a recent act of the legislature, which permitted the raising of the necessary funds authorized at a recent election and of much time consumed by necessary studies and investigations, the city asks extension of time until Feb. 13, 1920. In the case of the Cuyahoga river, the city had been originally ordered to stop pollution by July 1, 1915, and had then had the time extended to July 1, 1917, but now it requests a further extension until July 1, 1920.

Commentary: The reader may recall that we have marked several occasions when the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to the wastes dumped into it. Controlling sewage discharges did not fix all of the river’s problems.

Worker conducting leak survey

February 2, 1918:  Municipal Journal article. To Complete Water-Waste Survey. Buffalo, N. Y.-On the recommendation of commissioner Kreinheder council has authorized a complete survey of the city’s water waste at a cost of about $44,000. The Pitometer Company of New York is to do .the work along the plans followed by it in a partial survey made some time ago. George C. Andrews, water commissioner, estimates that the survey will result in an annual saving of $80,000 in coal bills and of about $40,000 in wages. The city has been divided into ten districts for the purposes of this survey, one of which has been covered. Two others will be completed in the spring.

Commentary:  Founded in 1897, the Pitometer Company (Associates) was in business for 99 years and helped cities save untold billions of gallons of water. In 1996, Severn Trent Environmental Services, Inc. acquired Pitometer Associates, Inc.

Reference:  Municipal Journal. 1918. 46:5(February 2, 1918): 98.

November 1, 1836: Birth of Hiram Mills; 1952: Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

November 1, 1836Birth of Hiram Francis Mills. “Born in Bangor, Maine, in the year 1836 and receiving his early schooling there, the young Hiram Mills moved on to the newly-established Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute to be graduated before he was twenty. When he was in his middle thirties he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Essex Company, the corporate owner of the Merrimack River dam at Lawrence, Massachusetts. Ever research-minded, Mr. Mills induced the Essex Company to set up an outdoor laboratory on the riverbank below the power dam. Here was installed a long pipe of large diameter — stoutly supported and shed-covered — by means of which Mills proposed to carry out new and accurate measurements of water flow under varying structural conditions.

In the year 1886…he was appointed a member of the recently reorganized State Board of Health. At the first meeting he was chosen by his associates to be chairman of the Board’s Committee on Water Supplies and Sewage, and from hydraulics, Hiram Mills’ chief scientific concern in life turned to sanitation.

The law of 1886, re-creating the State Board of Health, empowered the members to investigate methods for the disposal of sewage, and Hiram Mills lost little time in seeing that the law’s intent was carried out. As the place for his projected studies in the best practical methods for safe sewage disposal, he persuaded the Essex Company to lend to Massachusetts — for a nominal rental — the experimental plant the company had created for his hydraulic researches. With State funds, a modest laboratory building was added to the existing structures, and the whole was renamed the Lawrence Experiment Station — the first research enterprise of its kind in our country.

It may fairly be said that the investigations which Mills was to plan and carry through to conclusion in this physically limited and always economically equipped plant laid the foundations for many of the scientific methods of treatment of municipal and industrial wastes. Instead of investing in elaborate equipment and costly facilities, Mills invested in brains, as frequently he was pleased to point out. To man his researches, Mr. Mills drew upon the faculty and recent graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and thus employing their varied scientific skills, he perfected a unique investigating team whose inventiveness and productiveness are not likely to be seen again.” (edited by MJM)

Members of the research team included George W. Fuller, Allen Hazen, William T. Sedgwick, and Thomas M. Drown.

November 1, 1952: Cuyahoga River catches fire. “In 1952, leaking oil from the Standard Oil Company facility was accused of creating, ‘the greatest fire hazard in Cleveland,’ a two inch thick oil slick on the river. In spots, the slick spanned the width of the river. Although many companies had taken action to limit oil seepage on the river, others failed to cooperate with fire officials.

It was only a matter of time before disaster struck. On the afternoon of November 1, 1952, the Cuyahoga ignited again near the Great Lakes Towing Company’s shipyard, resulting in a five-alarm fire. (Many sources incorrectly put the date of the fire at November 3, 1952) The next morning’s Cleveland Plain Dealer led with a banner headline, ‘Oil Slick Fire Ruins Flats Shipyard.’ Photos taken at the scene are incredible; the river was engulfed in smoke and flame. Losses were substantial, estimated between $500,000 and $1.5 million, including the Jefferson Avenue bridge. The only reason no one died was that it started on a Saturday afternoon, when few shipyard employees were on duty.”

Commentary:  There was a long history of fires on the Cuyahoga—by one count a total of 13 with the first occurring in 1868. Other fires of note occurred in 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, and 1948. A relatively minor fire on June 22, 1969 was reported nationwide and became part of the impetus for passing the Clean Water Act in 1972.

June 22, 1969: Fire on the Cuyahoga River…Again

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

June 22, 1969: The June 22, 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga is the “seminal” event in the history of water pollution control in America, helping to spur the growth of the environmental movement and the passage of national environmental legislation. “Never before had an image so thoroughly driven home the deteriorating plight of our nation’s waterways,” one environmental group explained on the fire’s thirtieth anniversary. “The burning river mobilized the nation and became a rallying point for passage of the Clean Water Act.”17 Despite its national importance as a symbol of environmental decline, the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga was a relatively minor story in Cleveland at the time.18 For northeast Ohio, and indeed for many industrialized areas, burning rivers were nothing new, and the 1969 fire was less severe than prior Cuyahoga conflagrations. It was a little fire on a long-polluted river already embarked on the road to recovery.

Reference: Adler, Jonathan H. “Fables of the Cuyahoga: Reconstructing a History of Environmental Protection.” Fordham Environmental Law Journal. 14 (2003): 89-146.

Commentary: There was a long history of fires on the Cuyahoga—by one count a total of 13 with the first occurring in 1868. Other fires of note occurred in 1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1948, and in 1952.

February 2, 1918: Sewage Plant Completion in Cleveland and Water Waste Survey

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire...Again

Cuyahoga River Catches Fire…Again

February 2, 1918: Municipal Journal article. Ask Time Extension for Sewage Plant Completion. Cleveland, O. The city council has passed resolutions asking the state department of health for an extension of time in which to complete plants built to prevent the pollution of Lake Erie and Cuyahoga river. The state health department had ordered the city to install sewage works for preventing the pollution of the lake before Feb. 13, 1918. The city has already spent and has contracted for the expenditure of more than $700,000 for the construction of sewers and treatment works in accordance with the order. Because of delay in determining the legal status of a recent act of the legislature, which permitted the raising of the necessary funds authorized at a recent election and of much time consumed by necessary studies and investigations, the city asks extension of time until Feb. 13, 1920. In the case of the Cuyahoga river, the city had been originally ordered to stop pollution by July 1, 1915, and had then had the time extended to July 1, 1917, but now it requests a further extension until July 1, 1920.

Commentary: The reader may recall that we have marked several occasions when the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to the wastes dumped into it. Controlling sewage discharges did not fix all of the river’s problems.

Worker conducting leak survey

Worker conducting leak survey

February 2, 1918: Municipal Journal article. To Complete Water-Waste Survey. Buffalo, N. Y.-On the recommendation of commissioner Kreinheder council has authorized a complete survey of the city’s water waste at a cost of about $44,000. The Pitometer Company of New York is to do .the work along the plans followed by it in a partial survey made some time ago. George C. Andrews, water commissioner, estimates that the survey will result in an annual saving of $80,000 in coal bills and of about $40,000 in wages. The city has been divided into ten districts for the purposes of this survey, one of which has been covered. Two others will be completed in the spring.

Commentary: Founded in 1897, the Pitometer Company (Associates) was in business for 99 years and helped cities save untold billions of gallons of water. In 1996, Severn Trent Environmental Services, Inc. acquired Pitometer Associates, Inc.

Reference: Municipal Journal. 1918. 46:5(February 2, 1918): 98.