FORMATION OF SULPHURIC ACID Sulphuric acid to the extent of nearly 2% million pounds a day is the load which West Virginia streams must try to assimilate. It is too great. We must reduce it to save the extraordinary recreatioanl assets of West Virginia. Success on Cheat River is encouraging. Here, the natives notice and comment upon the change and stream improvement. Our chemical and water flow records show that there has already been a 74-percent acid reduction on the mines sealed on the Cheat River watershed-the daily acid load changing from 30 tons daily to 7tons daily, and monthly the improvement goes on. The “tourist industry" may one day rival the coal industry as an “income producer” if we conserve the “recreational assets of West Virginia


LET'S DEVELOP THE TOURIST INDUSTRY IN WEST VIRGINIA West Virginia is rich in recreational assets. In large sections of the State the assets from coal and lumber are gone. The recreational assets, the beauty of the mountains, the health-giving features of the streams, fields, and woods remain. In many States, as in Wisconsin, Maine, and Florida, the tourist industry outranks all others in financial return. Is it not time to begin to think about conservation of the water assets of the State, in order that the tourist industry may develop here, too? Reduction of acid mine drainage is one step toward conservation of water in West Virginia. C. L. Chapman's summary record of mines by counties as shown on State summary

maps for end of fiscal year

[Taken as of Aug. 1, 1936)

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Mr. TISDALE. In closing, I will say that my experience over a period of years, has been exactly the same as Mr. Wadham, from Missouri, and the men from Illinois and Indiana, where they have these State water commissions charged with the control of water pollution, that, as you bring up public opinion concerning this pollution and they will gradually be educated by the technical men in the Government service whether it be the States, in this case, cooperating with the technical men, in industrial service, you will have a workable team which will gradually work out this problem of stream-pollution control, which, in a great many cases, depends upon research.

So that I believe a study of the record in West Virginia and some of the neighboring States, in the Ohio River Basin, particularly Ohio, across the river, indicates that we are making progress under this pattern set up more fully in Mr. Vinson's bill.

The CHAIRMAN. How about the nitro plant there at Charleston, does it contribute much pollution?

Mr. TISDALE. At Nitro, at the present time, of course, all of those powder plants are obsolete, or moved away, but there is one plant there now, a pulp plant, and we are cooperating at the present time with that industry. Our chemical engineer, last week, was at Nitro, working with those people, working out a plan, a remedial plan, to take care of the pulp waste from that plant at Nitro.

The CHAIRMAN. Well, we thank you.

Mr. VINSON. Now, Mr. Chairman, at this point, in the record, I would ask permission of the committee to insert letters from the health departments and the health agencies of the States to which I referred in the opening of the hearing. I think that I should state that I sent to the highest health authority in each of the States a copy of H. R. 2711, requesting them to appear, if possible; and if not, to advise us their views relative to the best method of meeting the problems which were to confront the committee. Twenty-nine States have responded by letter, and there have been five States represented, I believe, up to this time, by personal appearances. A gentleman who was to speak for the State Health Department of Rhode Island was here yesterday, and I do not know whether he is in the room today or not. I find that he is here. So you can realize that we have three-fourths or more of the States' health authorities endorsing H. R. 2711. So I think it will be well to insert those documents in the record. This endorsement of course is additional to the unanimous action of all these representatives in their annual health conference.

The CHAIRMAN. They may be incorporated in the record.
(Letters, etc., furnished by Mr. Vinson, are as follows:)



Santa Fe, March 11, 1937. Mr. FRED M. VINSON,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. VINSON: Thank you very much for letting me see a copy of H. R. 2711 the provisions of which will greatly simplify the control of stream pollution. I do not, myself, see how without a constitutional amendment Congress can give us any greater help than is offered in your bill.

I enclose herewith a reprint of an article in which I have described the interstate problem of river pollution as it exists in New Mexico. Your bill will help

this situation insofar as it will aid the Colorado Department of Health in its attempts to correct the situation at Durango. Yours gratefully,



I am,

By J. Rosslyn Earp, Dr. P. H.1

Santa Fe, N. Mex. Four rivers in New Mexico are polluted by domestic sewage. The Pecos River is polluted by raw sewage from the city of Carlsbad. A sewage-treatment plant has been recommended to the city council and prospects of securing one are reasonably good at the present time. The Rio Grande is polluted by treated domestic sewage from the city of Albuquerque. This pollution is removed by natural purification within 8 or 10 miles of the river's flow. The Gallinas River is polluted by untreated sewage from Las Vegas. A Works Progress Administration sewage-treatment plant is under construction. The public-health menace from the pollution of these three streams is small in comparison with the menace to public health created by the pollution of the Animas River with raw sewage from the city of Durango, Colo.

The city of Farmington, N. Mex., uses this polluted water. There are wells available to the city, but the water from them is so hard and so rich in sulphates that it is used only in emergency. Numerous rural inhabitants in San Juan County also use the polluted water for drinking purposes. To them it is the only practical source of drinking water.

The New Mexico Bureau of Public Health was created by the legislature of 1919. Bearing this date in mind it is of interest to quote from a letter of Dr. G. S. Luckett, then State health officer, under date February 1, 1923:

For the last 3 years we have observed a continuous prevalence of typhoid fever along the course of the rivers named. Early in 1920 we began to suspect that there was some pollution being introduced into the rivers, which was producing this condition. Our sanitary engineer investigated the matter and felt that the source of pollution lay in Colorado. During the past summer he made a thorough examination of the entire course of the rivers, from Silverton, Colo., to the Shiprock agency. This investigation showed that raw sewage was being poured into the river at both Silverton and Durango, Colo.”

A copy of this report by Mr. H. F. Gray has been presented to the New Mexico State Planning Board as an historical record.

The bureau's next step was to prepare a bill for presentation to the 1923 New Mexico legislature calling for an appropriation with which to equip a local bacteriological laboratory for further research on pollution of the Animas River. The bill was given to the representative of San Juan County to sponsor. Its introduction resulted in violent opposition from one of the San Juan County newspapers which suspected that the State bureau of public health was seeking to derive “graft” from the State treasury. As a result the bill was withdrawn. The appropriation for laboratory work was subsequently made by the San Juan County commissioners instead of by the State.

In those days, when my predecessor was struggling to protect the interests of the people of San Juan against their own misconceptions, feelings must have been running high. Let me quote just once again from Dr. Luckett's letter:

“Just exactly why anyone should object to having this source of danger to your community. removed is beyond our understanding, unless some people prefer to drink diluted sewage for the added taste that it gives the water. We should expect the people of your community to be enthusiastically pushing this measure, which is intended solely for their protection. If we had not been interested in doing a thorough job we should never have suggested it, for our salaries would go on just the same and we should have much more time to enjoy our mountain scenery. But we are here to reduce preventable sickness and death in this State to a minimum and we propose to do it as efficiently as we know how, attacking every source of infection and removing it as fully as we can with our limited resources."

From the Colorado side of the line an investigation was made by Dr. Hugh F. Lorimer who reported to Dr. Tracy R. Love, then secretary of the Colorado State Board of Health.

The conclusions of Doctor Lorimer's report, dated January 17, 1923, are as follows:

1 Director, New Mexico Bureau of Public Health.

"1. Mr. Gray's vist to Durango was well received, and he enjoys the confidence of the officials of Durango and any reasonable request on his part will no doubt reflect in hearty cooperation with Durango.

“2. His report was gone over by me to the mayor, city manager, and assistant city

*3. I found the city officials willing to cooperate and eager to carry out any reasonable measures to protect their neighbor to the south.

“4. I started out on this trip opposed to any more officials on the Colorado State Board of Health, but New Mexico evidently could put us to shame on public health matters. If any State needs a sanitary engineer, Colorado certainly does.

5. I would recommend your board to communicate at once with Durango officials and also with the secretary of Bureau of Public Health of New Mexico saying that your board heartily approves of their cooperation and endorses such measures as they mutually agree upon and that your board signifies to the public health officials of New Mexico its approval of their reasonable, intelligent, and efficient request.'

It is a pleasure to be able to say here that the Colorado State Board of Health has from the first and right down to the present time shown the finest spirit of cooperation with New Mexico. If nothing has ever been done to correct the situation in Durango I am sure that it is not the fault of the Colorado State Board of Health.

The setting-up of the field laboratory at Aztec was followed by a joint survey made between November 18, 1923, and November 13, 1924, by the sanitary engineers both of Colorado and of New Mexico. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Water Works Association in 1926.2 În summary their conclusions were as follows:

“1. The sewage from Silverton, Colo., is of little importance to communities lower down the valley, due to the excellent purification which takes place before river water reaches Durango. The sewage load is small and the volume of stream flow is large.

“2. Durango introduces untreated sewage into the river which gives an average total count of 743 bacteria per cubic centimeter and 11,700 B. coli per 100 cubic centimeters. At Riverside, N. Mex., these figures are reduced to 246 and 1,280, respectively. This shows á marked degree of self-purification. From Riverside to Farmington the total count increases from 246 to 542 per cubic centimeter and B. coli decreases from 1,280 to 695 per 100 cubic centimeters. These results indicate the marked and rapid self-purification of the stream. However, this is usual in swift mountain streams of this character. Due to the rapid flow of the stream, and considering that B. coli is present in the water at Aztec and lower points at times, we are justified in believing that the discharge of untreated sewage by Durango into Las Animas River constitutes a nuisance and menace to public health.

“3. Colorado citizens living in Las Animas Valley below Durango are also practically dependent upon Las Animas River water for domestic use. The results of this investigation indicate that the river in this section is highly polluted and unsafe for domestic consumption without proper filtration and sterilization.”

It remains only to detail what has been done since and to show its effect on the typhoid morbidity rate. The municipal water supply of Farmington has been chlorinated since 1928. Instructions as to the methods of sterilizing water supplies in cisterns were drawn up and mimeographes in 1921 and have been widely circulated in San Juan County. A copy of these mimeographed instructions has been passed around. Active immunization with typhoid vaccine has been and still is offered by the county (now district) health department. Some hundreds of the inhabitants receive a course of vaccine every year.

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Typhoid morbidity rates for San Juan county and for the State of New Mexico are available for three 5-year periods and are as follows:

Cases per 10,000 population

San Juan





2 Kepner and Fox: Pollution of the Las Animas River. Jour. A. W. W. A., vol. 16, no. 1, 1926.


The reporting has probably improved a great deal since the first 5-year period. Such indications as this of incomplete reporting are found in our correspondence files:

You say that you have had 12 to 15 cases of typhoid along the river. Our records in this office show that you have reported only 10 cases for the entire county, during the past year.'

“You say that Dr. Sammons tells you that there are six cases of typhoid in Farmington. We have only four cases reported to us all year.”

This is taken from a letter of Dr. Luckett to the then county health officer under date August 2, 1922.

Is is probable then that the decline in typhoid morbidity in San Juan County and perhaps also in the State of New Mexico has been greater than the official figures indicate. Yet in 1934 there were reported 15 cases of which 6 are attributed by the present health officer to drinking poluted Animas water and in 1935 there were 17 cases of which 4 are assigned by the health officer to Animas infection.

What has been done in Durango? Exactly nothing. There are various expressions of good intent to be found in our correspondence files but the fact is that the whole of Durango's domestic sewage is still dumped untreated into the Animas River. When you come right down to it why should the people of Durango pay good money to protect the health and lives of the citizens of New Mexico?

"I am thoroughly convinced,” writes the San Juan County health officer on September 1, 1925, “that we will have to take legal action if we ever get results.”

On November 9, 1932, I wrote to his successor my own conception of the form which legal action might take, as follows:

"It seems clear that the joint report of the Colorado State Board of Health and the New Mexico Bureau of Public Health has established the danger to the residents of San Juan County from pollution of the Animas River and also the responsibility of the city of Durango for that pollution.

"It would seem to me that under these circumstances if any citizen of San Juan county should acquire typhoid fever by drinking water from the Animas River and should bring suit for damages against the city of Durango he would have a very strong case. You will remember that the city of Olean, N, Y., has been obliged to pay in very recent years as much as $425,000 in settlement of claims of its own citizens who contracted typhoid fever through the pollution of the city water supply.”

But nobody has yet taken that hint. Still sewage goes into the river in Colorado and disease and death are drawn from the river in New Mexico. Is there anything that a regional planning board might be able to do about this?


Montgomery, March 10, 1937. Hon. FRED M. Vinson,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. VINSON: Permit me to thank you for the courtesy of transmitting to me a copy of H. R. 2711, which seeks to create a Division of Water Pollution Control in the United States Public Health Service.

I regret that the urgent pressure of official duties will preclude my being present at the hearing scheduled for March 17. However, I have discussed this bill with my chief sanitary engineer. We are both in full accord that the problem is of such magnitude and importancd as to justify consideration and legislation at the hands of the Federal Congress. Further, that the approach contemplated by this bill is entirely correct in that it sets up within an already existing branch of the Government the machinery necessary for its managerial control by a properly trained technical personnel.

These principles appear to me to be so basically sound as to warrant approval and endorsement by Alabama's Health Department. Most respectfully yours,

J. N. BAKER, M. D.,

State Health Officer.


Phoenix, Ariz., March 12, 1937. Hon. FRED M. VINSON, Congress of the United States,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. VINSON: In reply to your letter of March 6, in which you enclosed a copy of House of Representatives bill No. 2711, known as the “Water Pollution Act”, this office would like to offer the following comments on this bill.

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