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Report on the sanitary survey of the Allegheny River Basin online

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surrounding region. The Emlenton Oil Refinery and a woolen mill
together with several small machine shops furnish the principal em-
ployment. Water is supplied to the community by the Emlenton
Water Company, a chartered company whose source of supply is an
intake with a free opening in the centre of the river, from which an
eight-inch suction pipe leads to a pumping station, whence water is
delivered to a reservoir of 307,000 gallons capacity. A permit was
granted by the Commissioner of Health to the Emlenton Water Com-
pany on April 21st, 1008, approving the use of water from a new
source, namely six drilled wells and requiring the abandonment of
the use of river water provided, however, that if the well supply
should prove inadequate, then the water company must install fil-
ters for the purification of river water. Emlenton has a public sewer
system designed for sanitary purposes only, but receiving roof drain-
age as well. It comprises 3.8 miles of sewers and discharges through
a twenty inch cast iron pipe into the river near the lower boundary
line of the borough. This system serves over one-half of the dwell-
ings. Separate storm drains are provided, of which ten independent
lines approximate a total length of 1.5 miles. There are also a num-
ber of private sewers discharging into the river. A permit was is-
sued by the Commissioner of Health on April 27th, 1908, for the con-
struct ion of certain sewers and requires comprehensive plans
for sanitary sewerage for the entire borough and for the treatment
of its sewage. Scourings and spent dye stuff from the woolen mill
and trade wastes from the oil refinery both of which are above the
borough, to some extent pollute the stream.


In the said decree of 1908, die Commissioner of Health had the
following to say about stream pollution in the neighborhood:

"Four miles below Emlenton is the village of Foxburg and three miles below
this village is Parker City. Both of these places have for years taken their
supply of drinking water from the Allegheny. Recently the Foxburg Water Supply
Company has sought a new supply from wells and springs on the hillside back of
the town.

"But below these towns along the river all the way to Pittsburgh there are
numerous municipalities which do now and must continue to rely on the river for
a public supply of water. It is the pollution of the river by. sewage at Franklin
and Oil City and other places in the valley above Emlenton that: has compelled
the Emlenton Water Company in safeguarding the public health to seek a new
supply, but the greater proportion of the inhabitants of river towns cannol thus
avoid the menace which sewage poisons in the river establish. It has become a
State policy to preserve the purity of the State for the protection of the public
health and in the administration of this great and beneficent law a policy has
been inaugurated which will ultimately require the abandonment of the discharge
of all sewage into streams used subsequently for drinking waters.

"While the small borough of Emlenton may not be compelled to take its sewage
out of the river sooner than some other places, yet the local authorities should
be informed of the State's policy and the necessity thereunder of plans being laid
out in the borough for a sewer plan involving the ultimate treatment of the town's

Foxburg, Clarion County, is a small village just above the mouth
of the Clarion River, in Richland Township, population about 600
and. no industries. The surrounding region is productive of oil
and the inhabitants of the village depend chiefly upon this industry.
It has a sewer system provided by the Fox estate, which owns most
of the village, and also controls the Foxburg Water Works Company.
The company formerly derived its supply from an intake crib in the
bed of the river. This supply is now used only for fire protection
and a new source has been obtained, consisting of four six-inch wells
drilled on a crest of the mountain immediately back of the village.
A piermit was granted on May 4, 1008, by the Commissioner of Health
for the use of this supply.

(h) French Creek Drainage Area. French Creek is the second larg-
est tributary of the Allegheny River. Its head waters are partly in
western Chautauqua County, New York, partly in the extreme east-
ern part of Erie County and partly on the high divide in north Erie
County overlooking Lake Erie, at an average of ten miles from the
shore. The extreme eastern head waters of the North Branch are
in the southwestern part of Chautauqua County, New York. This
stream flows in a general' southwesterly direction for about twenty
miles where the South Branch joins it coming from the east. From
its source the South Branch runs due north through a deep cut at
the head of Oil Creek and reaches the valley bed about one mile west
of Corry. From here the stream turns to the south and then to the
west and flows, with many sharp bends through the southeastern por-
tion of Erie County, in a westerly direction to its confluence with
the North Branch near LeBoeuf. The ravine through which the
head waters of this Branch flow is a very remarkable through cut
valley, the walls of which are 1,850 feet above sea level. From the
junction of these branches, French Creek continues in a general


southwesterly direction with many bends and curves through Craw-
ford County to Meadville, twenty-eighl miles above its junction with
the Allegheny River; thence in a wide gentle curve it Hows south
east through the extreme northwestern coiner of Mercer County into
Venango County and enters the Allegheny River at Franklin, 12G.4
miles above Pittsburgh.

The most important tributatries are Conneautee Creek, Cussewago
Creek, Conneautee Lake Creek, and Sugar Creek. West of French
Creek the whole country is so eroded that few of the uplands ex-
ceed 875 feet above the lake level. These tributaries drain south-
ward from the divide through flat valleys, one and often two miles
wide, bordered by low and gently rounded hill slopes, and separated
by low Hat table lands. Sugar Creek, the largest tributary enter-
ing French Creek on the east side, heads in two branches in the
southeastern part of Crawford County in drift filled valleys and
Hows southward, forming a continence with French Creek about five
miles above Franklin.

The fall of French Creek is very irregular, due in a measure to
its exceedingly winding course. From the watershed of these head-
waters to Greenfield the rate of fall is about thirty-three feet, to the
mile. From Greenfield to Wattsburg the rate of fall is about nine
feet in a mile; from Wattsburg to the forks, the rate of fall is
about fourteen feet to the mile and from the forks to Franklin a
distance of sixty miles, the rate of fall is four feet to the mile. The
northern affluents of the South Branch descend from the highlands
at a maximum rate of sixty feet to the mile while the rate for four
miles before it joins the North Branch is only three and a half feet
to the mile. A gauging of this creek at Carlton on September 27th,
1908, showed the minimum discharge to be sixty-four second feet.

Rainfall records kept at Saegertown for fifteen years consecutively
and. at Franklin for twenty nine complete years covering a total
period of thirty-six years are given below in inches per annum.









Franklin, .




French Creek drains an area of 1,180 square miles including the
southwestern part of Chautauqua County, New York, the central and
eastern pa its of Erie County, the central part of Crawford County,
the extreme northwestern corner of Mercer County and the north-
western part of Venango County. The stream is a sluggish and wind-
ing one. The valley is generally broad and the bottom lands are under


cultivation to a considerable extent. Shoal waters and a rocky bed
afford excellent opportunities for fords. In the vicinity of Meadville
the valley of French Creek is wide and flat and part of the city is sub-
ject to overflow. Below Meadville during dry seasons, the stream is
a succession of pools and shoals and sewage is afforded an oppor-
tunity for sedimentation and aeration. This accounts for lack of
evidence of sewage pollution in some of the samples of water taken
from the creek at Franklin.

The soils of this district while they often yield bountiful crops
are best adapted for grazing. There are two principal classes of
soils, one derived from decomposition of drift material and the other
originated in the decay of vegetable matter in the vicinity of boggs
and swampis. Soil from the drift is strong, clayey and gravelly, rich
in fertilizing elements but is inclined to be cold and wet so that the
land has to be thoroughly drained before first class crops can be
raised. The swamp soils, of course, require draining, but they pos-
sess almost inexhaustible fertility. The total population of this
basin is 72,820 divided as follows:





The rural population is approximately thirty-seven to the square

The only municipalities in this basin with a population over 1,000
are Meadville, population 15,000, Union City, population 4,000 and
Cambridge Spirings, population 2,000.

French Creek and most of its tributaries have been stocked with
game and food fish.

French Creek is largely used for water power, operating small
mills generally. The following is a list of the water power installa-
tions, on French Creek and its tributaries.

Erie County.

French Creek, Wattsburg , 25 H.P.

French Creek, Mill Village, 50 H.P.

French Creek, Union City, 100 H.P.

West Branch French Creek, Lowville,

Black Run , Waterf ord ,

Beaver Run, Elgin, 40 H.P.

Crawford County.

French Creek, Venango (4 plants), 1 of 80 H.P

French Creek, Saegertown (3 plants) , ... 1 of 160 H.P.

Little Conneauttee Creek, Drakes Mills, 75 H.P.

Conneaut Creek, Geneva,


Counoaut Creek Conneaut Lake,

Cussewago Creek Meadville ]()0 H.P. Creek Little Cooley, 50 H.P.

Muddy Creek Little Cooler, 57 H.P.

Woodcock Creek, »Meadville, vicinity, — 16 H.P.

Woodcock Creek Blooming Valley, 31 H.P.

Woodcock Creek Saegertown vicinity,

Venango County.

French Creek/ Franklin 100 H.P.

East Branch Sugar Creek, Cooperstown (2 plants)..

During the period of activity on the pari of the State in the con-
struction of canals, a project was partly carried out to secure trans-
portation by water front Franklin by way of French Creek and Con-
neaut Lake to Lake Erie at Erie. Canals, feeders, dams and locks
were constructed securing eighteen miles of slack water and twenty-
seven miles of canal navigation, at a cost of $872,780. This was
known as the French Creek Division and Avas operated from 1834
to IS 15. The lower portion, which has never been much used was
abandoned in 1S45 and the same year the uncompleted French Creek
feeder was sold to the Erie Canal Company. Some of the dams in
French Creek still exist. The total revenue during this period was
$5,820 while the cost of operation and maintenance was $143,000.

The French Creek watershed is essentially an agricultural region,
though the lower portion produces petroleum and natural gas in
considerable quantities. Coal is not found except in few isolated de-
posits, and nowhere of sufficient importance to warrant extensive
operations. Meadville is the principal manufacturing town but the
industries are not of great extent. Transportation facilities are
a Horded by about 124 miles of railroad, including the Western Di-
vision of the Pennsylvania, the main line of the Erie, the Franklin
Branch of the same road, a branch of the Bessemer and Lake Erie
and a small portion of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern.

Domestic water supplies are derived generally from wells or
springs and in a few instances from French Creek. Union City has
a municipal water works system deriving its supply from small runs
and "springs in the vicinity augmented at times by French Creek
water. At Waterford the Waterford Water Company supplies a
few families with spring water. Cambridge Springs has a municipal
water system using French Creek water, which is filtered before be-
ing furnished to the consumers. Meadville has a municipial supply
derived from drilled wells, while French Creek water may be used in
emergencies. Cochranton has a municipal supply derived from two


A number of municipalities have sewer systems of greater or less
extent and it is estimated that an urban population of 20,000 persons
contribute domestic sewage to the waters of French Creek above the
cily of Franklin. Industrial waste pollution has not been thoroughly
investigated, but probably the most important wastes are those from
the tannery of Boland & Ross at Cambridge Springs where 1.25 hides
a day are treated, the quality of wastes being characteristic of tan-
neries and amounting to probably 50,000 gallons a day.

A sanitary analysis made of French Creek water at Meadville
and a mineral analysis made of French Creek at Franklin are given
in Table XXXVI:


Sanitary Analysis of French Creek
at Meadville, May, 1901.




ltesidue on Evaporation:






Nitrogen as Album. Am.




Free Ammonia,





Tota 1 Hardness


Parts per
















25. CO


Mineral Analysis of French Creek
at Franklin in Nov., 1909.

Total Solids

Loss on Ignition,



Sulphuric oxide,

(Calcium Sulphate)
Magnesium Carbonate

Parts per




Sherman, Chautauqua County, New York, is an incorporated vil-
lage with a population of 800, situated at the extreme head waters
of French Creek near the boundary line of the three watersheds.
French Creek, Conewango Creek and Lake Erie. It is estimated that
approximately 440 persons contribute either directly or indirectly,
sewage to the waters of French Creek.

Wattsburg, Erie County, Pennsylvania, population 350, is a bor-
ough situated in the eastern part of the county at the junction of
the east and west branches of West Creek. It is a rural community
with no railroad nearer than about six miles and has no industries
of importance. There are a small planing mill, saw mill, and flour
mill operated by water power. There is no public water supply, pri
vate driven and dug wells being used exclusively. The underlying
formation is gravel and a good supply of water is found at depths
not exceeding twenty feet. Dug wells are not generally over twelve
feet in depth and the water is soft, the level of the wells fluctuating
somewhat with the depth of water in French Creek. The borough has
no sewer system and but one private sewer which serves a hotel


ami discharges into the mill race. Surface privies are in general use.
Probably thirty persons contribute direct or indirect pollution to the

Elgin, Erie County, population 140, is a borough situated on the
south branch of French Creek in the southeastern part of Erie
County with qo industries of note Private artesian and dug wells
supply water to the inhabitants, there heing five flowing wells drilled
to a depth of from 100 to 300 feet. There is no public sewer system
and hut one private sewer discharging sewage. A 40 horsepower de-
velopment forms a pond on Beaver Run which stream receives the
most of the drainage of the borough, entering French Creek within
the borough limits. Kitchen wastes are discharged usually to the
ground. About one-fourth of the people contribute sewage pollution
to the creek and privies are in general use.

Union City, Erie County, is a borough with about 4,000 population
situated near the southern boundary of the county on the south
branch of French Creek, it is a manufacturing community having
good transportation facilities afforded by the Erie and the Pennsyl-
vania Railroads. Its industries comprise the Shreve Chair Com-
pany. I'.")!* employees. Standard Chair Company 200 employees, Nov-
elty Wood Works, 125 employees. Union City Laundry 70 employees,
Union City Chair Works 300 employees, planing mills and flour mills.
The municipal water system derives its supply from Bentley Run
and Limekiln Run and springs, augmented at times by water pumped
from Little French Creek at a point in the heart of the borough. The
public generally use the town water and about one-fourth of the citi-
zens are partly or wholly supplied with drinking water from drilled
or driven wells and a few dug wells and springs. Several of the
industrial plants have artesian wells for drinking water. One hun-
dred horsepower is developed at a water power installation at this
point. The borough is partly sewered, the drains having been built
by the borough and by private individuals. Tt is reported that at
present all of the sewers are recognized as belonging to the borough
and all carry storm water, domestic sewage, and manufactural
wastes. There are numerous cesspools, and a large number of privies
willi percolating vaults. ' In July of the year 1912 there were
fifty-four estates from which drainage, in some cases from closets,
was being discharged unto the gutter and along the highways. The
major portion of the sewage pollution is contributed by nine sewers
below the dam and numerous private sewers above. About a thou-
sand persons are so served, the private sewers above the dam pol-
luting the borough's own emergency water supply. On December
3rd, 1908, the Commissioner of Health issued a permit for the con-
struction of certain sewer extension and required the immediate
preparation of plans for a comprehensive system of sanitary sewer-
age and sewage purification works.


Among other things in the decree of 1908, the Commissioner of
Health made the following statements:

"The use of Little French Creek as a source of unfiltered supply to the inhabitants
of Union City borough is a menace. Public health demands that the sources of
pollution shall be discontinued at once. It is equally true that the discharge of
sewage into the stream at Union City borough menaces public health at Cambridge
Springs. While natural agencies tend to destroy pathogenic organisms soon after
these leave their normal environments, in the animal body, nevertheless, some of
these specific poisons may live for many days in water and thus be transported to
distant points. Fatal epidemics in most communities have been caused by such
transmission of infection. The State Health authorities cannot accept the situation
as protective of public health where it is planned to continue the disehargeof
sewage into a running stream within twenty-three miles of and above the point
where water is drawn for public drinking purposes. And besides, all along the
French Creek, above Cambridge Springs, at convenient points the farmers have
a right which must be respected, to water their stock in the stream. Sewage
polluted water menaces public health where cattle are permitted to wade in and
drink contaminated water.

"On August first, nineteen hundred aixd six, the Commissioner of Health sent a
letter to Union City Borough Council. The following is a copy of it:

"'J. A. Hodgins, President; John Sinnacher, Frank Camp, E. B. Landswarth,
Elmer Foster, Clark Rice, members of Borough Council, Union City, Erie County,

" 'Gentlemen: Your borough is on French Creek and its sewers discharge into
it and a few miles below the borough of Cambridge Springs uses this water for
a public supply .

" 'You also use French Creek water which is introduced into the pipe system of
your borough when the gravity supply is insufficient. This use of the creek water
is a menace to your citizens which menace may be materially reduced by a proper
attention to the occupation of the watershed.

" 'To the end that selfish interests of municipalities shall not jeopardize the
general public health, a law has been passed placing the oversight of sewerage
systems and waterworks in the State Department of Health. The law requires the
filing of plans and reports with respect to these public necessities, and you have
been furnished by this Department with blank forms.

" 'Up to this time you have paid no attention to this matter so far as we know.
You have not acknowledged the receipt of the blanks. My Department has use for
the information called for and unless you acknowledge the receipt of this letter,
expressing your purpose with respect to compliance with the law, I shall consider
it necessary to proceed against you and enforce the penalty. I trust this will not
be necessary, however, but that as law abiding citizens of the Commonwealth you
will extend hearty co-operation since the benefits will accrue to the benefit of the
citizens of your borough.

" 'I am, very truly yours,


"The town is engaged in improving its water supply, which is a public necessity.
The assessed valuation of property in the borough is seven hundred and eigh'tv
thousand, one hundred and forty-four dollars; the bonded debt is thirty-four
thousand, four hundred and twelve dollars and twenty cents, and there is author-
ized a bond issue of seventeen thousand five hundred dollars for water works
extensions and other improvements, making a total debt of practically fiftv-two
thousand dollars, which is within twenty-five hundred dollars of the constitutional
limit of indebtedness of the borough at this time, provided these figures be accurate.
So it is evident that the town cannot of its own resources, build a sewage disposal
plant, but it can defray the cost of plans for intercepting all existing sewer outlets
and for a comprehensive system of sanitary sewerage for the entire town and submit
these plans for approval to the State Department of Health. After such plans have
been modified, amended or approved and adopted, the borough will be in a position
to economically and efficiently abate any nuisance or menace requiring improved
sewerage facilities and do it in compliance with the adopted plan.

"Furthermore, it does not follow, because a borough lacks the necessary mon^y
to abate a nuisance, that a public menace shall necessarily be permitted to exist
There are numerous places in Union City where individuals should be dealt with
in abating the nuisance. For instance, the individual discharge of sewage into the
creek above the dam and water works intake is absolutely impermissible and must
be stopped at the expense of the individual. The Department of Health will
see to it that orders are issued to this effect."


Waterford, Erie County, is a borough with a population of about
800, situated ou LeBoeuf Greek and LeBoeuf Lake, a body of water
with an area of about half a square mile and about two miles above
the confluence of the creek with French ('reek. The country round
about is wholly agricultural and the village is residential, its in-
dustries comprising a carriage shop, blaeksmith shop, and grist
mill. There is a small power development on Black Bun. The do-
mestic water supply is generally obtained from dug wells on indi-
vidual properties, but the Waterford Water Company operates a
gravity supply from springs in the northeastern part of the borough
and supplies about forty families and ten fire hydrants. A permit was
issued by the Commissioner of Health to the Water Company on
April 30th, L908. There are no public sewers and but one private
sewer, this leading from the hotel to a swamp in the northwestern
part of the borough. Domestic waste from dwellings is discharged
into cesspools and privies and the underlying subsoil being of a
clayey, retentive nature, there is apparently little danger of subsoil
pollution of the numerous dug wells. It is estimated that forty-five
persons contribute pollution to the creek.

Mill Milage, Erie County, population about 320, is situated near
the southern border of the county on Avery Run near French Creek.
A creamery is its only industry. There is no public water system, the
inhabitants deriving their water for domestic- purposes from driven
and drilled wells and a few r private springs. There are no sewers
except one from a hotel discharging sewage into Avery Run. Kitchen
wastes are generally discharged on the ground and in a few instances

Online LibraryPennsylvania. Dept. of HealthReport on the sanitary survey of the Allegheny River Basin → online text (page 12 of 43)