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Scientific Report

Professor Leeds' Report

Question First


What are the principal sources of the pollution of the water supply of Jersey City and Newark at the present time? Give as nearly as you can the amounts of the various polluting materials intering the Passaic River below the Great Falls at Paterson?




In order to render my answer intelligible, I have prepared a map which shows the changes that the waters of the Passaic River undergo, from their bright and limpid condition above the Great Falls to their foul and turbid condition when discharged into Newark bay.


First Source of Pollution


Representing their natural condition of purity by the blue shading, I show them running the gauntlet of the sewers at Paterson, the sewers being so numerous and so close together that it was hard to find room on the map for the crimson lines, each crimson line representing a sewer. The city of Paterson, which is represented by the large brown patch, has grown with great rapidity, having already a population of about 70,000. And this rapid growth means, not merely an increase in the number of people sewering into the river, but an enormous growth of factories, each of which pours out its own peculiar filth. There are more and more cotton mills and woolen factories, great locomotive works, a jute mill, silk and silk dyeing establishments, with other factories too numerous to mention, employing all told over seven thousand operatives, and every day pouring forth millions of gallons of brilliantly colored and poisonous dyestuffs into the river. The city is rapidly extending its sewer system, and fecal matter which formerly was held in cesspools is now being discharged into the river. There are already 28 miles of sewers, emptying by 13 large outlets, to say nothing of canals, tail races and private drains innumerable.


Second Source of Pollution


After getting by the houses and cemetery, and flowing over the Dundee Dam, the waters of the Passaic encounter the leakages of the oil tanks belonging to the Oil Storage Station opposite the city of Passaic. There great tanks have a storage capacity of about 160,000 barrels, and are so located that, as I have represented by the red lines, all the leakages of oil and the drainage therefrom empties directly into the Saddle River and thence into the Passaic. Still worse, a number of breaks have occurred in the pipe line crossing the Saddle River, and the oil escaping from these bursts has covered the surface of the water for miles down the river.


Third Source of Pollution


The city of Passaic has no public system of sewers, so that comparatively few are represented on the map. A system, however, has lately been adopted by the city authorities which contemplates the immediate building of about thirteen miles of sewers, with seven large outlets directly into the Passaic River; ordinances for the building of sewers were passed in 1884 and again in 1885, and the matter is being strongly agitated at the present time by the 10,000 citizens of Passaic. There are six large mills and a clerical factory employing about 5,500 operatives. The surface drainage of the city, together with much of the refuse and waste dyes of these mills, empties into the tail race of the Dundee Works, and thence into the river, and also into the Passaic River directly. This is still the case, though much has been done by the manufactories to abate some of the more dangerous nuisances.


Fourth Source of Pollution


This is the Third River. It rises in a great spring just beyond the Notch in the First Mountain, which pours out 200,000 gallons of exquisitely limpid water that the town of Montclair has long coveted in vain for its domestic supply. It is presently defiled by the refuse of Oakes' Woolen Mills, and by the Minla Paper Factory at Bloomfield, and by the Morris Canal, which crosses the Third River at at this point, and pours its waste into it. Then comes the refuse of Davies' Paper Mill; then the slops and washings from the dyed yarns, etc. of Underhill's Woolen Knitting Mill. After that the spent dye stuffs from Duncan's Woolen Mills, and finally the chloride of lime and other chemicals from the Kingsland Paper Mill. The mountain spring by this time has become a large sewer, and after having collected the drainage of the village of Franklin and part of the town of Bloomfield, it pours the accumulated filth cast into it during its downward course of ten miles directly into the Passaic, at a point about two and a half miles above the Jersey City Intake and only a mile and a quarter above the Newark Intake.


Fifth Source of Pollution


This is the town of Belleville, with its 3,500 inhabitants. It has no sewers, but a large number of drains, when carry off the surface drainage and the contents of its sinks and cesspools into the Passaic River directly opposite the Jersey City Intake.


Sixth Source of Pollution


This is the Second River. It is about five miles in length, rising in the vicinity of West Orange, and flowing through the towns of Orange, Watsessing, Bloomfield, and the village of Soho, into the Passaic River at a point about a quarter of a mile below the Jersey City Intake. This is one of the worst sources of pollution of the Jersey City and Newark water supplies. There is a population upon the area of drainage of this street of about people. At Orange there are several large hat factories, employing about 4,000 hands, and the chemicals and dyes used in the manufacture of hats in these factories, all wastes into Second River. At Watsessing is Sabury & Johnson's Porus Plaster Facotry. Which empites its refuse chemicals into this river. Here also Tony's Brook empties into Second River. This large brook of five miles in length rises below the Great Notch and drains the villages of Montclair, Ridgewood and part of Bloomfield. There are three factories upon it-first, Moffett's Rolling Mill, discharging waste acids used, in the washing of Copper, brass, etc.; second, Wheeler's Paper Mill, which manufactures straw board, and wastes file refuse of a composition of chloride of lime decomposed reeds and straw into the river; third, Krump's Label Factory. This factory wastes arsenic and other, deleterious chemicals and high colors, used in label printing, into the brook....