Editor's Note: This article protesting river pollution is from the October 18, 1888 issue of the New York Herald newspaper. See more Sunday News here.
Poison in the River
Large Amounts of Sewage Filth is Being Dumped into the Hudson at Albany
[By telegraph to the Herald}
Albany, N.Y., Oct. 17, 1888 - Danger threatens our river towns and possibly the metropolis. It arises in the wholesale contamination of the Hudson River with tons of festering filth now being dredged from the Albany basin.
For years complaint has been made of this basin as a plague spot. Once a valuable part of the canal system, it has become gradually filled up and useless. The filling was chiefly the silt from the spring freshets, the refuse from mills and factories, and, worst of all, the washings from the city sewers.
When the health of the city was threatened by the accumulated nastiness the State Board of Health rose up and demanded that something be done. The city officials joined in the demand and an appropriation was secured to clear out the basin and restore it to the canal system.
A Large Mass of Sewage Deposit
An amount of filth, nearly equal to 150,000 cubic feet, is to be removed, and dredges are now at work upon it. Sanitarians recommended that steps be taken to compost this filth as it lay, but nothing of the kind was done. It is simply scooped up, loaded into scows and tugged off down stream.
The workman say these scows are dumped some distance below the city. This leaves tons of putrid matter to be spread out along the shores by the tide or by every slight freshet, or to be carried on down stream by the current.
The danger arising from such a proceeding is that the filth is likely to contaminate the water to an extent which should fill with alarm all residents of cities and villages whose water supply is taken from the river.
Contaminating the Ice Crop
Nor does the danger stop there. The same source of contamination threatens the ice crop. The officials of the State Board of Health agree that this danger is even greater than the other. The ice crop is gathered for distribution over a large territory and can easily be contaminated by sewage poison. Physicians recognize ice gathered from impure water as a frequent source of enteric troubles, and warn the public against it as strongly as against the use of polluted water itself.
The work of dredging out the Albany basin is well under way, and unless prompt action be taken by the proper authorities, a large increase in typhoid troubles may result in the section of country to which the filth is likely to be carried by the river.
Thank you to HRMM volunteer George Thompson, retired New York University reference librarian, for sharing these glimpses into early life in the Hudson Valley. And to the dedicated HRMM volunteers who transcribe these articles.
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