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Pennsylvania. Dept. of Health.

Report on the sanitary survey of the Allegheny River Basin online

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209



lii the Little Conemaugh River basin above Johnstown (nere is
;i total of ninety-six coal mines from twenty two of which the drain-
age is pumped amounting to 1.0,075 gallons <»r mine drainage a
minute. Prom the remaining seventy-four coal mines that have
natural drainage there is a flow of 10,4!H gallons a minute making
a total quantity of mine water pollution in this sub-basin above
Johnstown of 20,569 gallons a minute.

'/. Survey of Stony Creek Sub-basin.

In the sub-basin of Stony Creek arc the communities of Stoyestown
Booversville, Jennertown, Jenner, Boswell, Benson, Windber, Paint,
and Scalp Level.

Stoyestown, Somerset County, population 350, is a borough sit
uated in the northern central part of the county on Stony Creek. It
is an agricultural community with no industries in the borough al-
though there are extensive coal operations in the vicinity. There
are four small Mater power developments in or near Stoyestown; one
on Beaver Dam Bun, two on Stony Creek, and one at Kantner on
Stony Creek developing 30 H. P. The inhabitants of the borough
are largely dependent on individual wells and springs for their
water supply; but a number of these sources have become polluted.
The Stoyestown "Water Company was incorporated in 100G, and on
May 2nd, 190G the Commissioner of Health issued a permit to this
company to supply water to the public from two drilled
wells. The borough has one public sewer and one private sewer,
and on September 17th, 1006, the Commissioner of Health issued a
permit for the construction of two other public sewers. The com-
plete system will serve the greater portion of the population. Privies
to the number of seventy have been in use and there are about fifty
modern water closets, some of which have been discharging sewage
into the street gutters. Kitchen wastes have been discharged either
to abandoned wells or to the gutters. The borough's sewage reaches
Beaver Dam Bun just before it enters Stony Creek, and the former
stream also receives acid drainage from coal mines.

In the permit of ]90(>. the Commissioner of Health had the follow-
ing to say about sewerage:

"The borough can raise seven thousand dollars without exceeding the debt limit.

The proposed sewers will cist half of this amount. If all possible connections were
made mi tin- basis of one hundred gallons per capita, the system would discharge
thirty-two thousand five hundred gallons daily into the run. The run has a
drainage area of about three hundred acres above tin- lower or Main Street Bewer
outlet. The dry weather flow of the stream is an inconsiderable amount. Owing
to tin 1 steepness of the watershed, during rains, the bed of the run is thoroughly
washed out. Below the Main Street sewer outlet proposed, the slope of the run
is about one hundred and fifty feet in fifteen hundred feet, having its course through
pasture Land and timber land to Beaver Dam Run. Cattle drink the water. The
discharge of sewage into it will increase the pollution and render the water un-
suitable as a pasturage stream.

"Beaver Darn Run is an acid stream to some extent, because it receives drainage
from at feast one coal mine. Probably the acidity of this stream will increase, and
as coal is mined from the bank here, this acidity may be considered permanent.
The cost of extending the present public sewer outlet down the valley of Maurers

210



Run to the proposed Main Street outlet, and from this junction continuing down
the valley to Beaver Dam Jinn, a total distance of aboul twenty five hundred feet,
plus the cost of the proposed sewers, is well within the amount of money which
the borough can borrow. Permission to discharge sewage from this main interceptor
into Heaver Dam Run would obviate suits For damages which very probably would
be brought by the proprietors whose cattle are pastured in the la-Ids bordering
Maurers Run, and it does not appear that a temporary discharge at this point
would be detrimental to the interests of the public health. So far as the Depart-
ment of Health knows, there are no places between Stoyestown and the city of
Johnstown which take water for drinking purposes from the stream. The sewage
of this city is discharged into the river, as is also true of places below Johnstown.
The waters are very acid and dirty and cannot be suitable for domestic purp
without placing prohibitions on the industries in the territory which prohibitions
are not known to be practical at this time, although they may be in the near
future.

"Beaver Dam Run at its junction with Maurers Run has a drainage area of
twenty-five square miles so that the dry weather flow is sufficient to prevent a
nuisance. About one thousand feet below this junction Beaver Dam Run enters
Stony Creek which has a drainage area at this point of approximately -one hundred
and ten square miles. For these reasons and the fact that the borough cannot raise
money enough to build a properly designed sewage treatment plant at this time,
and because sewers are needed in the borough and Maurers Run should be pre-
served as a pure stream, it is unanimously agreed that the interests of the public
health demand that temporary permission be granted the borough to discharge its
sewage into Beaver Dam Run, and that a public sewer be built in Main Street
and in South Alley as proposed under the following conditions."

Hooversville, Somerset County, population 950, is a borough sit-
uated on Stony Creek about five miles below Stoyestown. It is a min-
ing town with important operations in and near the borough belonging
to the Federal Coal Company, the Knickerbocker Smokeless Coal
Company, and the Somerset Mining Company. There is no public
water system, the inhabitants deriving their supply from drilled and
dug wells and springs. The Hooversville Water Company is now
erecting a water works system with a supply from Fallen Timber Run'
by way of a new storage reservoir. There are two public sewers, one
for surface water only, the other a combined sewer with sanitary
connections, both discharging into Stony Creek, beside which there
are a number of private sewers with outlets to Stony Creek, Fallen
Timber Eun, and Dixie Run. Nearly all of the houses have privies
and a few have cesspools for kitchen waste, but waste water from the
houses is largely discharged to the highways or streams and a num-
ber of the privies overhang the creek or runs. The mines discharge
considerable acid water into the stream.

Jennertown, Somerset County, population about 100, is a rural
community in the northwestern part of the county on Hays or
Pickings Run near its junction with Quemahoning Creek, a tributary
of Stony Creek. The borough has no industries. Water for
domestic use is derived entirely from drilled and dug wells, there
being no public water system. As there are no sanitary sewers, the
population depend upon privies, which, however, are well kept and
there is consequently, very little pollution of the stream at this
point.

Jenner, Jenner Township, Somerset County, population about
800, is a village almost entirely owned by the Somerset Coal Com-
pany, 500 employees, which lias mining operations near by. It is
situated on Quemahoning Creek about a mile and a half east of
Jennertown Borough. Water for domestic purposes is obtained

211



from three springs and one drilled well. For industrial purposes the
Somerset Coal Company derives a supply from Quemahoning Creek,
which is pumped to two tanks with a capacity of 100,000 gallons.
There is one sewer with five connections discharging into Quemahon-
ing ('reek and a number of open ditches receive kitchen waste. The
privies, which are in general use, are dug in soil of a percolating
nature, hut one overflows to a highway.

Boswell, Somerset County, population 1,200, is a borough situated
on Quemahoning Creek about nine miles and a half from its con-
tinence with Stony Creel; and about three miles east of Jennertown
borough. It is a mining town dependent entirely upon the opera-
tions of the Merchants Coal Company which owns much of the bor-
ough property. This company also operates a piublic water supply
system under the name of the .Tenner Water Company whose supply
is derived from a 300 foot drilled well. Only a portion of the public
is served, the remainder getting water from other wells. There is
an extensive sewer system built and owned by the Boswell Land Im-
provement Company with a twenty-four inch outlet to Quemahoning
Creek by way of a railroad culvert. Several other private sewers
discharge directly or indirectly through the same culvert; one of
them a ten inch sewer belonging to the Merchants Coal Company
discharges into a street gutter and thence by open ditch some dis-
tance to the culvert. Comparatively few houses have sewer connec-
tion, privies being commonly used. Street gutters and open ditches
receive kitchen waste generally and in many cases an overflow from
privies.

Benson, Somerset County (Hollsopple P. 0.), population 500, is
a borough situated in the northern part of the county on Stony
Creek. It is a mining town with operations near by of the Hawes
Coal Company with about 100 employees and the Althous Coal
Company employing about fifty persons, beside which there are the
Johnstown Vehicle Manufacturing Company with about eight em-
ployees, a planing mill, and a slaughter house. Water for domestic
use is derived partly from a number of springs but largely from dug
wells, there being no public water supply system. The borough has
no public sewers, but there are a few private sewers discharging
into an old mill race or to the creek. Privies are in use, in some
instances overhanging the mill race or creek or discharging on the
banks thereof.

Wind her, Somerset County, population 5,000 or more, is a borough
situated on Paint Creek near the Cambria County boundary. Ad-
joining Windber on the northwest is the borough of Paint, Somerset
County, and beyond that the borough of Scalp Level, Cambria
County. These three towns are practically one community. Wind-
ber is industrially dependent upon the Berwind- White Coal Com-
pany, whose operations in its immediate vicinity are very extensive.

212



There are also several small industries including a brick yard, and
a planing mill. Aside from about twelve private wells the inhabit-
ants obtain water from the Paint Township Water Company which
is subsidiary to Hie Windber Water & Power Company. The water
supplied to Windber and to the borough of Paint is derived from
two dams on Pig Paint Creek having seventeen square miles of
wooded and practically uninhabited watershed. The borough has
a general system of combined sewers which are said to be inadequate
in size in some instances. A large number of privies are connected
therewith, but others frequently overflow into the highways which
also receive much kitchen waste. The coal workings discharge great
quantities of acid drainage into Paint Creek in and near the bor-
ough.

Paint, Somerset County, population 600, is a borough adjoining
the northern or Cambria County boundary and adjacent to the bor-
ough of Windber on the southeast and Scalp Level, Cambria County,
on the north. Tt is situated on Paint Creek just below Windber. It
is dependent in part upon the operations of the Berwind-White Coal
Company which has a mine within the borough limits. The Paint
Township Water Company, subsidiary to the Windber Water &
Power Company supplies the public with water from a wooded
watershed on Paint Creek, this supply also being furnished to the
borough of Windber. Beside this supply there are about five private
wells in use. There are a number of private sewers and practically
all of the population contribute sewage pollution.

Scalp Level, Cambria County, population about 1000, is situated
on the southern boundary of Cambria County on Little Paint Creek
at its junction with Paint Creek and just below the boroughs of
Paint, and Windber which places are on the latter stream. It was
formerly a farming village but it is now a thriving town dependent
largely upon coal mining operations of the Berwind-White Coal
Company. Water is supplied to the public by the Bichland Town-
ship Water Co. operated by the Windber Water & PoWer Company
the supply being obtained from a point on Little Paint Creek about
two miles above the borough. The watershed above the intake con-
tains several coal mining operations and the village of Elton with a
population of about 250. In addition to this supply there are in
use seven or more private dug wells. There are between fifteen and
twenty private drains to the creek and one public sewer has been
constructed in accordance with a permit issued by the Commissioner
of Health. Both Paint Creek and Little Paint Creek are heavily
charged with acid water from coal mines. In a permit of May
18th, 1908, the Commissioner of Health had the following to say
about sewerage.

"The sewers now proposed and under consideration will serve that portion of the
old villasre above described. A sixteen inch main sewer is to start at Little Paint
Creek and extend up the turnpike a distance of 900 feet to or near the angle in the

213



turnpike. One hundred and fifty feet from the end a twelve-inch branch sewer
is to be laid in a branch road westerly a distance of 750 fen, passing the school
house for which sewerag< facilities arc demanded. The least grade for the sewers
is 3.4 per cent, and the greatest 9.25 per cent.

"The main creek is about 700 feet down stream from the proposed outlet where,
at one time, ir was contemplated the sewer would terminate. Owing to the very
limited financial resources, the local authorities do not want to make any greater

expenditure than may be ICSSary ; heme approval of the outlet into the tributary

stream where tin' turnpike misses is asked. Presumably the discharge of sewage
would be of such small volume for the present that no nuisance will be created
: ,t the outlet. There are shoals on cither bank of the stream at the bridge. The
bed of the creek is steep and the flow of water rapid. Any small pool could easily
be drained.

"There is one means of saving money which has escaped the borough. An eight
inch pipe on the grades proposed would be many times greater in capacity than
actually necessary to remove sewage from the proposed district. The local authori-
ties can 'with perfect safety save the cost between an eight-inch sewer and a
twelve and sixteen-inch sewer.

'•There are periods of several weeks duration in the year when the run-off
from the upland watersheds is so great that the germicidal effect of the acid water
is probably neutralized, and at such times the sewage from the mining town may
reach the water works intakes of the down stream towns. The waters of the region are
discharged by the Conemaugh River into the Kiskiminetas River, and through the
latter into the Allegheny River opposite Freeport. This place takes its water from the
river and below Freeport, in a distance of twenty-three miles, there are nine
other places which take the public water supply from the Allegheny. Twenty miles
and thirty six miles, respectively, below Johnstown the boroughs of Blairsville and
Saltsburg obtain their public supply from the river. The sewage of Johnstown is
now discharged into the Conemaugh and is a menace because it may be transmitted
down the river and be introduced into the homes of water consumers. Because
an epidemic has not occurred from this cause is not a guarantee that it may not
happen. The danger exists. It is probable that, within the period for which it
is economical to design sewers, a change in the methods of disposal of sewage in its
raw state in the streams, may be brought about in the Conemaugh River Basin.

"Scalp Level borough is amply able to defray the cost of the preparation of a
sewerage plan, either independently or in conjunction with the boroughs of Paint
and Windber."

Iii a permit of May 28th, 190S in a further discussion of the
sewerage situation of Scalp Level the following statements were
made by the Commissioner of Health.

"The new outlet is an obscure place away from dwellings. The plan is to
excavate a trench in the bottom of the channel and to imbed the sixteen-inch sewer
in a cradle of concrete and to cover it over with the same material. This form of
construction is expensive and unless it be executed with great care it will not be
durable. The creek is a mountain stream subject to tremendous freshet flows and
scouring currents. In the said permit of May eighteenth, the borough's attention
was especially called to the safety and economy of reducing the size of the main
sewer. The wisdom of a reduction in size is npw more apparent than ever if the
proposed plan to lay a sewer down the creek bed be carried out. The land on the
north bank rises precipitously and there is no opportunity favorable for the building
of a sewer in this bank from the turnpike down stream when such sewer must
be begun at a level at the turnpike deep enough to drain the cellars along the
highway. The petitioners represent that they have given careful consideration to
the project of avoiding the construction of a sewer in the creek bed with the con-
clusion that there is no other location. An eight-inch sewer should be large enough
for all requirements, and certain it is that a ten-inch pipe would never have its
capacity taxed and since the cost of the laying of a ten-inch pipe in the bed of the
creek would be very much less than the cost of laying a sixteen-inch pipe, this
change in the plan ought to be adopted by the borough. Furthermore, it has been
proven by experience that for small pipes it is cheaper and better where they
must be laid in the bed of a mountain stream to use cast iron pipe instead of
clay pipe. All things considered, it is cheaper and better to adopt this form of
construction.

"The petitioners further represent that there is a fall in the bed of the creek
where it is proposed to terminate the sewer so that the outlet will be elevated many
feet above the valley of Big Paint Creek in which a trunk sewer for the ad-
joining boroughs of Paint and Windber may be laid and into which it may be de-
sirable and easily possible at some future date for the proposed Scalp Level sewer
to empty."

The Fish Commission has stocked some of the suitable streams in
the sub-basin of Stony Creek with trout.

214



On Stony Creek the Cambria Steel Company maintains an Intake
dam from which water is derived for industrial purposes. This com-
pany has chemically analyzed Stony Creek waters and in Tabic XLIX
the results are given :

TABLE XLIX.

Chemical Analyses of Stony Creek by the Cambria Sled Company.
Parts per Million.



Iron and alumina,

SO.,

Lime,

Magnesia

Silica

Free Acid

Chlorine

Total Solids



Oct. 22,
1899.


April 6,
1904.

1.0
5.6
2.0
Trace.


July 28,
1904.


Nov. 19,
1904.


Dec. ::,

1904.

7.0
35.3
31.8

7.2
20.2


Dec. 21,
1904.


Trace.

55.6
47! 2
24.2


7.6
12.4
23. 6

9.4

4.6
14.8

4.0
69.6


2.4
22.3
28.2
9.4
3.4


9.0
46.4
34.8
10.9
17.2










2.8
91.6


5.2
107.0


4.6

IIS. 2




8.9



Jan. 14,
1905.



30.6
7.9
21.1
None.

3.6
116.0



Iron and alumina.

S0 3

Lime

Magnesia,

Silica,

Free Acid,

Chlorine

Total Solids,



Jan. 24,


Feb. 13,


19C6.


1905.


4.2


4.0


17.8


27.0


20.2


12.4


6.0


21.6


10.2


6.5


None.


None.


1.1


1.3


65.0


75.6



Feb. 24,
1905.



4.8
31.4
11.3
9.4
7.0



Mar. 24,


Apr. 10,


1905.


1905.


12.4


51. S


18.2


16.8


8.5


10.5


S.9


17.8


10.6


87.8


1.8


None.


56.2


201.2



Apr. 24,
1905.



4.8
23.0
12.3
3.6
5.8





May 2t4,
1905.


June 10,
1905.


June 24,
1905.


July 24,
1905.


Aug. 24,
1905.


Sept. 29,
1909.


so.


4.5
13.4
7.4
2.0
2.2
None.

51. S


20.0

17.9

9.8

8.1

100.0

None.

199.2


4.1
20.6
14.2

7.2
20.4

1.0

82. S


11.6
14.3
9.2
4.9
31.9
None.

S6.6


23.4
21.6
18.8
26.6
3S.0
3.3


20.0

90.0




3S.0




14.1


Silica


22.0




9.0




19.4


Total Solids


154.0


206.4


MgSOi


43.2














92.3

















In the Stony Creek sub-basin there are eighty coal mines. From
eighteen of these the mine drainage is pumped amounting to 10,445
gallons a minute. From the remaining sixty-two mines the drainage
flows by gravity amounting to 14,320 gallons making a total of 24,-
765 gallons a minute being discharged into the waters of the State
in the Stony Creek sub-basin.

In the first part of the year 1908 there was a typhoid fever epi-
demic at Boswell. In Table L are given the typhoid fever cases that
have been reported by the local authorities of the towns in the
Stony Creek sub-basin to the Department of Health for the years
1006 to 1912 inclusive.



215



TABLE L.

Typhoid Fever Cases Reported for the Stony Creek Sub-Basin, 1906—1912, inclusive.



Scalp Level,
Stoycstown,

B( .-w « - 11

Wlndber. ...

Bouson,

Hoovcrsvillc,



1906.


1907.


1908.


1909.


1910.


1911.








5








1





1




















119


12


9


3











6




















7
























5. — Survey of Black Lick Creek Sub-basin.

In the sub-basin of Black Lick Creek are the following communi-
ties: Nant-y-Glo, Big Bend, Twin Rocks, Vintondale, Wehrum,
Armagh, Mechanicsburg, Josephine, Indiana, Homer City, Graceton,
and Coral.

Nant-y-Glo, Cambria County, population 1,400, is an unincor-
porated village on Black Lick Creek about seven miles below and
east of its head waters near Ebensburg. It is a coal mining town
with five principal operating companies: the Nant-y-Glo Coal Com-
pany with ninety employees producing from 300 to 400 tons daily,
the Pennsylvania, Beech Creek and Eastern Coal Company produc-
ing 500 or more tons daily, the Ivy Hill Coal Company with 90 em-
ployees producing 300 tons daily, and near the village the Lincoln
Coal Company producing probably 300 tons and a new, large mine
of the Springfield Coal and Coke Company. About a mile up-stream
from the village is a small chemical plant for the manufacture of
wood alcohol. Black Lick Creek divides the town into two parts. In
the portion northwest of the creek, water is piped to six families
from a spring and small reservoir reasonably well protected, and to
four families from another spring. Twenty -four families derive
water from four running spouts piped from a third spring. The
three springs are reasonable free from chance pollution. On the
southwest side of the creek the inhabitants get their supply from fif-
teen wells, several of which are dug, and from five or more open
springs which in some cases are subject to considerable surface pol-
lution. On August 15th, 1908, a permit was issued by the Commis-
sioner of Health to the Nant-y-Glo Water Company, not a corporation,
to supply the public in Nant-y-Glo village with water for domestic
purposes and fire protection deriving its supply from Davis Run, with
an uninhabited watershed. The Pennsylvania, Beech Creek and East-
ern Coal Company derive a boiler supply from Schuman Run near the
village. The Nant-y-Glo Coal Company use the less sulphurous mine
drainage in their boilers. There is no sewer system but there are a
few private sewers to Black Lick Creek. Every house has a privy and
as the soil is hardpan, many of the vaults overflow to alleys, yards,



216



and highways. A slaughter house projecting over the stream dis-
charges wastes which at times are extremely offensive. The mines
in this vicinity discharge large quantities of acid drainage into the
creek. The chemical works above the village pollutes the stream to
a considerable extent.

Big Bend (or Expedit) Cambria County, population 700, is a min-



Online LibraryPennsylvania. Dept. of HealthReport on the sanitary survey of the Allegheny River Basin → online text (page 23 of 43)