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means. (Bailey Denton, lectures, p. 248.)

In this respect towns are to be divided into three classes :

I. Seaboard towns.
II. Towns bordering tidal rivers or estuaries.
III. Towns adjacent to inland rivers and streams.

Discharging into the Sea.

The possibility of discharging sewage into the sea uuobjectionably only exists where the
shore is not used for bathing or for recreation, and where the town does not extend down to
the water's edge. * * •■■'

Thus it is often the case that, even in seaboard towns, the sewage, before it is discharged,
should not only be clarified, but that everything should be done within reasonable limits to
secure a constant outflow, independently of the tide. * * *

One or the other of the tried chemical precipitation processes will effect the required clarifi.-
cation of the sewage of this class of towns where land cannot be obtained. (Work cited, pp.
177,178.)

Discharging into Tidal Hivers and Estuaries.

A considerable number of towns in this country are situated on the shores of tidal waters,
some of which reach far inland. The difficulty of satisfactorily dealing with sewage which
can only thus be carried to the sea by the ebb and flow of the tide, is very considerable.

The banks or shores of these waters generally consist of mud, and are exposed to the atmos-
phere for a sufficient time during each tide to give off" in extremely hot weather an intolerable
stench, which is necessarily made worse by mixture with sewage.

In dealing with towns on tidal rivers, it becomes the duty of the engineer to treat the liquid
refuse differently from the way in which he would dispose of the sewage of either a town
directly on the seaboard or situated on an inland river.

The most rational view of the matter is, that while the sewage discharged from seaboard
towns directly into the sea may be simply clarified, that which is discharged into tidal rivera,
the waters of which are never used as sources of potable waters, should be cleansed of its
])utrescible matters up to a certain standard, which though less stringent than that applied to
inland rivers, should be sufficiently high to prevent its causing the nuisance of wtiich I have
spoken. * * * These standards, it is declared, can be reached by several of the processes
which I shall hereafter explain. (Work cited, p. 179.)



89

Discharging into Rivers far Inland.

It is not only reasonable, but positively necess;\ry, that considerations altogether different
from those ruling in the case of seaboard towns should determine the mode of disposing of the
sewage of inland towns.

The effluent water in such eases should, indeed, be "freed of all foul or noxious matter"
(Public Health Act, 1875, clause 17), without compromise, and the law should be exercised
without hesitation.

The influence of the opposition of manufacturers upon the past and present governments has
resulted in a temporary respite, and some ground has been lost by temporizing which had pre-
viously been gained by slow and certain steps; but when saying this it is impossible to evade
the conclusion that the perfect and permanent cleansing of sewage will be sooner or later insisted
upon by every voice in the country, and by no persons more decidedly than by the manufac-
turers themselves. (Work cited, pp. 180-182.)

Disposal of the Sewage of Villages and Hamlets.

The remarks upon the disposal of liquid refuse of towns apply equally to villages. -■■ ••■ *
It has been taken for granted by most persons — simply because the point has not been thoroughly
discussed — that if solid refuse (kitchen and shop refuse, not sewage matter) is disposed of in some
approved manner, very small places may turn their sewage water into the nearest watercourse.
This impression will have but a transient existence, though the money now being spent in tem-
porizing with difficulties and in endeavoring to evade the law is very considerable. I feel bound
to assert, though, ••■" "■■■" ••• that there is no other way of satisfactorily disposing of the liquid
refuse of any community than by a common water-tight sewer, which shall collect and dis-
charge it/or ap2J7-opriate treatment. This cannot be too well understood, for the precise mode of
disposing of liquid sewage becomes comparatively easy directly it is determined to collect and
deliver it at a given point. (Work cited, pp. 182, 183.)

As elsewhere noted, this authority favors irrigation where land
enough can be had; intermittent downward filtration, through land
prepared for the purpose, where sufficient land for irrigation cannot
be had ; and the precijyitating process where the land available is still
more restricted, or not suitable for the other mentioned methods of
treatment.

CONCLUSION.

It is unnecessary to pursue this branch of the subject further at
present. The conclusions to be drawn are:

That if it is advisable to clarify — precipitate the solid matter held
in suspension— the sewage at your institution, it can be done, and
with the detailed records of ample experience at command to guide
ill the work; but that we can not purify the waters as they should be
purified, by any of these precipitation processes alone, unless we
should be more successful than the best authorities say such work
has been in older countries.



PART IV.— THE DISPOSAL OF THE ASYLUM SEWAGE.



SHALL THE SEWAGE BE CARRIED AWAY?

And now for the application to the case in hand, of the facts and
conclusions brought forward in the review of the sewage-disposal
question which I have presented in the preceding three chapters.

It has been proposed to conduct the asylum sewage (1) to the San
Joaquin River, and dispose of it by mingling with the river waters;
or, failing in sufficient money to carry out this work, (2) to put it in
Stockton Slough at some point west of the city limits; or, as an alter-
native, (3) to extend the North Street canal to the river, and use it as



90

an outfall for sewage at some point undefined; and I am called upon
to say whether or not it is advisable for the Board of Directors to adopt
either one of these outfalls and construct works in accordance there-
with. •

THE SANITARY ASPECT OF THE QUESTION.
The San Joaquin as an Outfall.

With respect to the first proposition — turning the sewage into the
San Joaquin River — I am by no means satisfied that the deposit of the
comparatively small amount of fouled liquid which your institution
produces into the river would pollute its waters so as to be noticeable;
and were the question of no broader scope than one of policy or expe-
diency on this footing, I would not be prepared, in the interest of
undefiled river waters alone, to advise against the act.

But the question could not by any one be thus easily dismissed, for
the deposit of this sewage in the river would be but the beginning of
other acts of the same kind, and greater in degree, which quite likely
would constitute a nuisance that soon would be cause for complaint
by the casual observer even. In point of fact, the deposit of any such
foul water in a running stream of this size, is held by the great bulk
of scientific authority to materially pollute its waters, under ordinary
circumstances, as I have already shown. So that even if the result of
the deposit of the asylum sewage in the San Joaquin River was not
noticeably objectionable, the justification of it on that ground would
be a mere subterfuge, liable at any time to be laid bare, should any
competent person take hold of the matter with the view of stopping
such deposit.

If, as above, a private individual, or any organization, would not
be justified in setting a bad example by thus disposing of sewage, and
doing an act which, although not noticeably objectionable, could be
exposed as a material and dangerous pollution of the waters of a
public stream, still less would you, as officers of the State, be held
blameless for such act.

The Stockton Slough as an Outfall.

As to the use of Stockton Slough, or any part of it, as an outfall for
the asylum sewage, I am clearlj^ of the opinion that such use would
soon result in the pollution of its waters to such an extent that it
would be noticeable to the eye of the casual observer for at least six
months in the year; that in a very few years the bed of the slough in
the neighborhood of the outfall, and above and below it, would
become so charged with putrescible matter as to give off foul odors
and deleterious gases, and that the solid matter *of your sewage,
amounting to 1,000 to 1,500 cubic feet, yearly, would settle in the
slough channel, and not be carried away into the river.

It takes a water current velocity of two and a half to three and a
quarter feet per second to hold in suspension — keep from settling —
the suspended matters of sewage, and no sucli velocity now ever
exists in Stockton Slough above the mouth of Mormon Slough, and
below the mouth of Mormon Slough only for the few days of the
highest floods.

The Stockton channel is a mere dead-end basin, without fixed- water
currents, for the greater portion of each year. A good part of this
time — that portion when the river is high and the Mormon Slough



91

is not in flood — there is not even a material tidal action in this basin.
And when the water is low the tidal movement is only about two and
a half feet.

Knowing the section of the channel at its mouth, the area and
depth, and consequently the volume of the tidal prism above that
point, and the time of tidal movement, as I do from surveys, with
sufficient accuracy for this purpose, I find that the average velocity
of tidal currents at the mouth must be even less than one foot a sec-
ond, and that the maximum can rarely, if ever, exceed two feet, and
that must be for a verj- short time at each tide.

This estimate is for the section at the mouth of the channel; of
course the rates diminish for each section above, until there is no
perceptible current made by the tide much above Mormon Slough;
the movement of the waters in the down-stream half of the channel
alternately backing up and lowering those in the up-stream end.

Thus any disposal of sewage in this channel above the mouth of
Mormon Slough would, so far as tidal current influence is concerned,
be received in a pond almost without current, and disposal below
that point would be in a channel with current insufficient to hold
the solid matters in suspension, and that, too, running alternatelj^ up
and down, so as to act both ways.

The water circulation in the upper half of Stockton Slough is kept
up more by the influence of the wind than by tide. The trade winds
of Summer blow almost directly up the channel, creating a surface
current in that direction, which of course results in a sub-surface or
bottom current in the opposite direction. Observation in other sim-
ilar water basins shows these rules of circulation generally to prevail ;
and my own observation of Stockton channel leads me to believe
that it presents no exception.

Sewage matter dumped into this channel would in part be swept
up stream as well as down, and be simply spread along the bottom of
the waterway.

It has been proposed to deposit the sewage at a point where some
dead-end slough joins the main channel, making a backwater reser-
voir for the sewage, which would be emptied at low tide.

Under the circumstances and laws I have pointed out, a little
reflection will show to any one, I hope, that this would be no safe-
guard against the evils of which I speak as results.

If there were tidal area enough towards the upper end of this
slough in which to impound water at high tide by a dam, and let it
out with a rush as the tide receded, some good might be thus effected,
or, rather, harm prevented. But the circumstances are such as not
to admit of any such arrangement at small cost, or any such cost, at
least, as you Avould be justified in incurring for your purposes.

When sewage is put into tidal waters of this character, or even in a
tidal river, the best way to insure its being moved to advantage, is to
store it in a tank until the turn of the tide and then let it out, and
also flush the channel, as I have indicated above, from a tidal reser-
voir.

The side channel dumpage would create a nuisance in less time
than dumpage into the main slough, for the side channel itself would
soon silt up and become a bed of festering matter to poison the air of
the whole neigborhood.



92

The North Canal as an Outfall.

It has been proposed to continue the North Street canal through to
the San Joaquin River; to use it as an outfall channel, or to lay a
pipe in it to '.he used as a main outfall sewer, or to lay a pipe for this
purpose in the embankment bordering it.

This canal would for eight or nine thousand feet of its length be
located through the tule swamp whose surface is three to five feet
below the level of ordinary high Avater in the river; and, being joined
to the river, it would have to be flanked by embankments on each
side, varying in height from six to eight feet, to preserve it as a canal.

During the greater portion of each year the canal would be simply
a dead-end tidal channel, that would not keep itself clear of silt from
natural washings, much less carry away the solid matter of sewage
should it be deposited therein. This canal would require a constant
flow of seventy-five to one hundred cubic feet of water per second
to make it self-cleansing, and where any such supply can be had to
feed it, for at least eight months in each year, I am at a loss to know.

The City of Sacramento has just such a canal for an outfall chan-
nel for its sewage waters. Under a city ordinance everj^ house drain
has to connect with a cesspool, so that the solid matter settles therein,
and the overflow liquid, only, reaches the sewers and through them
the canal. Yet this canal, receiving but little solid matter, and with
greater grade than can be had in 10,000 feet of the proposed exten-
sion of the North Street canal of Stockton, and receiving a larger
amount of sewage than that would receive (giving it a better flow on
the average, of course), is an object that, I am satisfied, the owners of
property in Stockton would not like to have transferred to their
neighborhood, and which the Sacramentans would quickly get rid of,
if they could at any outlay of money which the city could immedi-
ately aff"ord.

If the proposed North Street canal were not carried through to the
river, the sewage would spread over private lands.

If the pipe were laid in the canal through which to run sewage, as
has been proposed, it would be below water and impossible to get at
for repairs, would be broken by unequal settlement in the soft
ground, and have to be flushed out under considerable pressure,
artificially applied, during at least six months of the year when the
river was not nearly at its lowest stage.

If a sewer pipe were laid in the embankment, it would be broken
by unequal settlement of the bank, unless that bank were specially
built to sustain it, at very considerable extra expense, and there are
other objections to this arrangement which I mention in the last part
of this report.

If a sewer pipe is to be laid from the asylum, or the northern part
of the City of Stockton,' to the San Joaquin River, unless a very con-
siderable amount of money is to be expended in constructing this
canal and building and protecting its banks, it (the pipe) should be
laid down along the northern bank of the Stockton channel, where
the ground is most firm, where it will be most accessible, cheap of
construction, and economical in maintenance. It should be put
upon a good artificial foundation wherever the natural ground is not
sufficiently firm, and be so located as to be within (north of) the line
of levee that doubtless some day will be erected there.

In short, I do not see that the asylum sewage problem, up to this



93

point of our consideration of it, has, properly, anything to do with
the North Street canal or its extension.

The agricultural drainage from the asylum grounds, inclusive of
the ground filtered by sewage waters, should the sewage be used
properly in the irrigation of those grounds, might well find an out-
fall by that canal; but the sewage should not go into it, nor should it
go along it or its embankment, in a pipe, unless, as I have said, there
is to be an embankment specially built for the purpose of holding
such pipe, and unless works are to be here carried out, in connection
therewith, very much more expensive and elaborate than you would
be justified in undertaking, except as a small part of the City of
Stockton.

I now respectfully call your attention to another aspect of this ques-
tion of outfall into the San Joaquin River or any of its arms.

THE LEGAL ASPECT OF THE QUESTION.

The State, the Guardian of the Streams.

The State is the guardian of the public streams, particularly of
those which are navigable. If anything is done which pollutes the
waters of such streams, the authority of the State would or should be
exercised to stop it. Perhaps this practice of dumping sewage into
streams will be resorted to in this State by town authorities as a con-
venient, and, apparently to them, cheap way of getting rid of it.
Perhaps the subject will be tampered with and temporized with here,
just as it has been elsewhere, until some flagrant nuisances have been
created — until the beds of our watercourses have been poisoned —
when the State will be called upon to stop the practice.

But when this time comes it should not be of record that the State
herself, bythe act of the Directors of the Stockton Insane Asylum,
set the bad example which, followed out, will have led to the pollu-
tion of her streams, the waste of money in town sewerage works that
will have to be remodeled, and probably will have conduced to the
propagation of some of those disease scourges, the names of which,
even, fill many people with dread.

Or, perhaps, I may be wrong when I say that this evil practice of
fouling river waters with sewage will probably grow up here; I hope
so, but at any rate it will be well to set the example of a riglit and
proper mode of disposing of sewage; and while there might be blame
in future store for State authorities who set a bad example, there may
be praise awaiting the carrying out of a good example, and material
benefit to the citizens of the State by thus showing town authorities
what should be done and how to do it in this respect.

At any rate, unpopular though it may be, and " ahead of the times "
here, or savoring of refinement of policy not justified by the facts, as
it may seem to the many persons who have not really studied the
matter, and who will naturally tend to the easiest solution, for the
time being, of this sewage disposal problem here, as many other good
people have done elsewhere, it is clearly my duty to point out the
danger ahead and advise against taking the channel which experi-
ence has so fully shown to be filled with rocks and shoals and wrecks,
further on.

I see no reason why we, though far from the scenes of mature expe-
rience on this sewage question, should fall into the same errors (and
there are hundreds of them besides the one I have pointed out) that



94

the local authorities of England and Germany and France have
waded tlirough, or are still floundering in, at such enormous expense,
to their " rate i)ayers." For we have only to look thoroughly into the
subject— to go below the scum of books written merely for popular
sale— and devote some systematic study to the detailed professional
accounts of what others have done, rather than to trust to the inspi-
ration of " local talent," and be led by sliallow efforts at economizing
at the inauguration of sewerage systems.

California Penal Code.

Beyond the matter of policy in this question of sewage disposal for
your'institution lies the facts of the law.

Section 374 of the Penal Code of the State, as amended in 1875-76,
reads as follows:

Every pftrson who puts the carcass of any dead animal, or the offal from any slaughter-pen,
corral, or butcher shop, into any river, creek, pond, reservoir, stream, street, alley, public high-
way, or road in common use, or who attempts to destroy the same bj' fire within one fourth of •
a mile of a'ny citv, town, or villa.aje, and every person who puts the carcass of any dead animal,
or any oftal of any kind, in or upon the borders of any stream, pond, lake, or reservoir, from
which water is drawn for the supply of the inhabitants of any city, city and county, or any
town, in this Stale, so that the drainage from such carcass or offal may be taken up by or in
such stream, pond, lake, or reservoir, or who allows the carcass of any dead animal, or any offal
of any kind, to remain in or upon the borders of any such stream, poinl, lake, or reservoir,
within the boundaries of any lands owned or occupied by him, or who keeps any horses, mules,
cattle, swine, sheep, or live stock of any kind, penned, corraled, or housed on, over, or on the
borders of any such stream, pond, lake, or reservoir, so that the waters thereof shall become
polluted by reason thereof, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be
punished as prescribed in Section 377 of this Code. (In effect March 23, 1876.)

This law does not say " sewage " or " sewage matter;" but it certainly
seems to me that it specifies infinitely less offensive acts than that of
depositing several cubic feet daily of the most foul and, dangerous
offal known in a stream, and says that the person found doing either
of them shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and punished
accordingly.

The solid matter of the asylum sewage, to say nothing of the liquid,
which is very much greater in bulk, would about equal a good sized
calf, at the verge of decomposition, daily, deposit it where you will.

The Law of Nuisances.

Without in any way attempting to assume the part of your legal
adviser, but rather to bring to your attention some primary points of
the law, in order that you may see the necessity for taking advice of
your proper legal counselor before making a step which may lead to
trouble, should you be inclined to put the sewage of your institution
into any stream or ditch, I recommend to your reading.the thirteenth
chapter of " Wood on Nuisances," edition of 1883, a work which I
believe stands high as a legal text-book.

You will there find that "the right of a riparian owner to have the
water of a stream come to him in its natural purity is as well recog-
nized as the right to have it flow to his land;" that "the Legislature,"
even, "has not the power to authorize the use" of a navigable stream
"in such a way as to destroy its use by riparian owners" for drink-
ing or "primary purposes," "without compensation; that the fact of
its being a public convenience to dispose of offal in a river, is no
excuse in the eyes of the law;" that "neither does it make any differ-
ence or in any measure operate as an excuse that the nuisance cannot



95

•be obviated without great expense, or that the plaintiff himself could
obviate the injury at a trifling expense;" that the question of distance
which the offensive matter may be transported does not operate as an
excuse; that, in the words of a leading English decision, "the pollu-
tion of the waters of a navigable stream so as to destro.. their value
for primary purposes, by leading into the same the sewage of the town,
is a nuisance," and "the fact that sewage has been sent there for many
years does not give a prescriptive right to continue it, when, by the
increase therein, it becomes a nuisance."

These, and many more sentences in the same vein, seem to be right
to the point, and worthy of attention; for the exceptions to the rule
given by the same authority, are, (1) when the pollution is slight
and not appreciable, or (2) when the increase of, pollution is not
noticeable.

The test of pollution must ever be a scientific one, for water may
be absolutely poisonous from animal organisms, and still be sweet to
the taste, without odor, sparkling, and attractive to the eye; and
chemistry tells us that any pollution of water with sewage is material,
dangerous, and should not be permitted even when the water is only
occasionally used for drinking purposes, or by a few persons only.

The Civil Code of California.

Our Civil Code (Sec. 3479) says that anything which "offends
decency," is a nuisance, or that "unlawfully interferes with, obstructs,
or tends to obstruct, or renders dangerous for passage, any lake, river,



Online LibraryCalifornia. LegislatureAppendix to the Journals of the Senate and Assembly of the ... session of the Legislature of the State of California (Volume 1885v.1) → online text (page 46 of 83)