Tag Archives: sewer

February 18, 1915: Passaic Valley Sewer Construction

February 18, 1915:  Municipal Journal article. Passaic Valley Sewer. “Methods Employed by Contractors on Section from Bayonne to Robbins Reef Outlet-Sinking One Hundred Foot Shaft in New York Bay-Plans for Outlets. That section (No.2) of the Passaic valley sewer from the contract of the New York and New Jersey Construction Co., described in the issue of January 21, to the terminal chamber at Robbins reef is being built by the O’Rourke Engineering Construction Co., 17 Battery Place, N. Y. This contract comprises 15,000 feet of 12-foot concrete-lined circular tube, running about 80 feet below sea level from Bayonne to the reef. At the present time about 3,300 feet of this tunnel is “rough cut” and is now being trimmed down to the proper cross-section. The shaft at Bayonne, known as Jersey City shaft No. 2, has been sunk and work is proceeding on another shaft which is being built for construction purposes only in New York bay about 4,000 feet from the reef. Work on the terminal chamber itself will probably not begin until late in the summer.

From Jersey City shaft No. 2, the tunnel back to the 100-foot level heading of the New York and New Jersey Construction Co. has been driven back 1,675 feet-as far as is embraced in this contract. In the other direction, that is, toward New York bay, the tube has been driven about 1,370 feet. At this point the rock ran out and mud and gravel were encountered, necessitating the temporary abandonment of the work at this point. At present, work is still at a standstill, and there is a likelihood that it will be necessary to use compressed air for the remainder of the tunnel to the reef. Borings are now being made to further determine the nature of the ground before proceeding with the work.

Reference: “Passaic Valley Sewer.” 1915. Municipal Journal. 38:7(February 18, 1915): 213.

February 12, 1914: Detroit Sewer Gas Explosion and Front Royal Water Supply

February 12, 1914:  Municipal Journalarticle. Damaging Sewer Gas Explosion. “Detroit. Mich.-An explosion of gas in the 18th street sewer has sent manhole covers flying skyward, torn up pavements, shattered windows, and wrecked outbuildings in the western part of the city. The district affected covered a dozen or more blocks. No one was seriously injured, but there were scores of narrow escapes from death as the heavy pieces of iron and paving blocks fell back to the ground. Damage to pavements is estimated at $25,000, while the loss to private property probably will exceed that amount.”

February 12, 1914:  Municipal Journalarticle. State Board Commends Water System. Front Royal, Va.-Officers of the State Board of Health who have just made an inspection of the new water supply of Front Royal, expressed high commendation of the system in a statement recently issued. The valley town, they declare, now has one of the best water supplies of the state and can guarantee to all visitors absolute freedom from water borne diseases. Front Royal has proceeded to install its new water supply with very creditable foresight. The town is almost ideally situated for good health and now is in a pos1t10n to protect its water beyond possible contamination. The system just installed includes a coagulation basin, gravity mechanical filters, storage basins for the filtered water, and as an extra precaution, apparatus for sterilizing the water before it is turned into the mains. The work is of concrete with the most modern and up-to-date appliances and the total cost, $17,000 was borne by the town without a bond issue. Since the first of the year the people have been getting a supply of clear, sparkling and pure water of the highest quality. The capacity of the plant is 1,000,000 gallons per day, or more than twice as much as the town now uses.

Reference: Municipal Journal 1914. 36:7(February 12, 1914): 213.

January 21, 2015: End of “Chinatown” Water Feud; 1915: Passaic Valley Sewer

For years, Los Angeles has tried, by flooding Owens Lake, to make amends for draining it dry Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

January 21, 2015:  New York Times Headline. Century Later, the ‘Chinatown’ Water Feud Ebbs. “OWENS LAKE, Calif. — For 24 years, traveling across the stark and dusty moonscape of what once was a glimmering 110-square-mile lake framed by snow-covered mountains, Ted Schade was a general in the Owens Valley water wars with Los Angeles. This was where Los Angeles began taking water for its own use nearly a century ago, leaving behind a dry lake bed that choked the valley with dust, turning it into one of the most polluted parts of the nation.

The result was a bitter feud between two night-and-day regions of California, steeped in years of lawsuits, conspiracy theories, toxic distrust and noir lore — the stealing of the Owens Valley water was the inspiration for the movie “Chinatown.” But while the water theft remains a point of contention, the battle long ago turned into one about the clouds of dust that were the legacy of the lost lake, 200 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

In what may be the most startling development yet, the end of one of the great water battles in the West appears at hand: Instead of flooding the lake bed with nearly 25 billion gallons of Los Angeles water every year to hold the dust in place — the expensive and drought-defying stopgap solution that had been in place — engineers have begun to methodically till about 50 square miles of the lake bed, which will serve as the primary weapon to control dust in the valley.”

Passaic Valley Sewer Construction

January 21, 1915:  Municipal Journalarticle—Construction Features of the Passaic Valley Sewer. “The Passaic Valley sewer, which will carry to New York Bay the sewage formerly turned into the Passaic river by some dozen or more municipalities in northern New Jersey, is now about one-third completed. Actual construction work has been going on for about two and a half years and it is estimated that it will require at least three years more to finish the work, the total cost of which will be about $12,000,000. Practically all the contacts have now been let for the work and construction is going on rapidly.

From Paterson, where it is a pipe four feet in diameter, the sewer parallels the Passaic river to its mouth, receiving on its way the sewage from Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley, Passaic, Paterson, Acquackanonk, Garfield, Wallington, Harrison, East Newark and Newark. At the latter place the tube, now twelve feet in diameter, makes a vertical drop of about 268 feet (to a distance of 250 feet below sea level) to pass under Newark bay. At Bayonne it rises 168 feet and at this elevation (100 feet below ground level) passes under Bayonne and New York bay to Robbins Reef where it discharges through pipes into the bay. On the salt meadows just outside Newark will be erected the pumping and treating plants. Here the sewage will be screened and passed through grit and sedimentation chambers to remove all the objectionable suspended material possible. Sufficient head will be maintained at the pumping plant to force the sewage into the bay. The final discharge will be through concrete pipes from the terminal chamber on the reef. By a fan-like arrangement of outlet pipes, a thorough distribution of the sewage will be assured”

Commentary:  This is the intercepting sewer that Dr. John L. Leal pushed for when he was health officer for Paterson, New Jersey in the early 1900s.

Reference:  Municipal Journal. “Construction Features of the Passaic Valley Sewer.” 38:3(January 21, 1915): 59.

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.

October 18, 1972: Clean Water Act is Born; 1812: Birth of Julius Adams; 1799: Birth of Christian Schoenbein

October 18, 1972:  Effective date of the Clean Water Act.Officially called the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972, this legislation is the federal law that regulates water pollution in the U.S.  The original legislation was vetoed by President Nixon on October 17, 1972, but was overriden by the Senate and House the next day. “This Act is the principle lawgoverning pollution control and water quality of the Nation’s waterways. The objective of this Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters (33 U.S.C. 1251). The Act has been amended numerous times and given a number of titles and codification. It was originally enacted as the Water Pollution Control Act in 1948 (P.L. 80-845), and was completely revised by the 1972 amendments, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments (P.L. 92-500). The 1972 amendments gave the Act its current form, and established a national goal that all waters of the U.S. should be fishable and swimmable. The goal was to be achieved by eliminating all pollutant discharges into waters of the U.S. by 1985 with an interim goal of making the waters safe for fish, shellfish, wildlife and people by July 1, 1983 (86 Stat. 816, 33 U.S.C. 1251) . The 1977 amendments (the Clean Water Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-217)) gave the Act its current title. Additional amendments were enacted in 1981 (Municipal Wastewater Treatment Construction Grants Amendments (P.L. 97-117)) and in 1987 (Water Quality Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-4).  The Act regulates discharges to waters of the United States through permits issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program.”

Julius W. Adams

October 18, 1812Julius W. Adams was born.Julius Walker Adams was a noted civil engineer who planned the sewer system for Brooklyn, New York. He was also one of the first engineers who conceived the idea of building the Brooklyn Bridge. For several years he was Consulting Engineer of the Board of City Works, Brooklyn, and also consulted on the distribution of water in New York City. He found time to edit the Engineering Newsand was President of the American Society of Civil Engineers from 1874-5. Adams was the last surviving member of the twelve founders of ASCE. He was a member of the New York Academy of Science and of the Association for the Advancement of Science.

Christian F. Schonbein

October 18, 1799:  From This Day in Science:  “October 18th is Christian Friedrich Schönbein’s birthday. Schönbein was the German chemist who discovered ozone while investigating the electrolysis of water. He noticed a distinct smell while the system was operating and traced the source to a new type of oxygen.”

September 13, 1987: Ocean Pollution Warning

September 13, 1987:  New York Timesheadline–“Pollution of Summer ’87 Seen as Oceanic Warning.”Along the East Coast, where tides have been running an ugly brown and garbage washes ashore, where some waters have become unsafe for swimming and lethal to a multitude of fish, the summer of 1987 should be viewed as a cautionary tale, environmental experts and Government officials say.

The unpleasant summer, which cast a pall on thousands of vacations, was a demonstration of how delicate the ecosystem balance is in the marine environment. Experts agree that the problems, the result of conditions long established, will be repeated from time to time. And few think that enough is being done about them. Much of the blame for the pollution was leveled at wastewater discharges.

May 12, 1909: Inverted Sewer Siphon for Chicago

May 12, 1909:  Municipal Journal and Engineerarticle. Inverted Sewer Siphon. “The accompanying drawing illustrates a rather unique piece of sewer work, designed by Mr. C. D. Hill, Chief Engineer of the Sewer Department of the Board of Local Improvements of the City of Chicago, to carry the Kedzie avenue sewer under the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

The Kedzie avenue sewer is a 9-foot circular brick sewer, being built to serve the rapidly growing southwestern section of the city. It empties directly into the drainage canal. The Illinois and Michigan Canal runs parallel to the drainage canal and about 900 feet from it. The problem confronting the engineers was to provide means for carrying the sewage under the canal in such a manner that during the dry weather flow there would be no serious deposit in the siphon and so that the storm water flow would be readily handled. It is estimated that the dry weather flow in the sewer will be from 20 to 30 cubic feet per second, while the storm water flow may reach 250 cubic feet per second, which is under the estimated maximum carrying capacity of the 9-foot sewer. It was feared that, if the 9-foot sewer were carried under the canal, the small velocity of the dry weather flow, calculated to be one foot per second, would result in considerable deposit. A further consideration in the matter was that this canal is not a particularly clean stream, and that the discharge of greatly diluted sewage into it in time of flood would not seriously pollute it [Well, that is obviously not true.]. A design was therefore worked out which would keep the siphon clean during dry weather flow and permit the discharge of excessive storm water into the canal, although lesser amounts will easily be carried through the siphon.”

Reference:  “Inverted Sewer Siphon.” 1909. Municipal Journal and Engineer. 26:19(May 12, 1909): 847-8.