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The president of the Great Lakes Harbor Association made a strong argument before the National River and Harbors Conference at Washington, D. C., on December 5, 1923, and it behooves Buffalo to consider the merits of this discussion and protect its interests. Quoting from the address we read:
"The drainage canal authorities can still såy to the Chicago people: “We are protecting your health and your pocketbooks. We are still keeping the sewage out of the lake and sending it to the rivers of the interior of the State. We are taking great volumes of lake water to do this. We know we are taking more than the law allows, but we are earning a million dollars for you every year in lighting your parks and streets in the sale of hydroelectric power. You should worry!'
" The cry of alarm which the sanitary district authorities have from time to time raised to the effect that all the water the canal can carry is needed to protect the health of 3,000,000 people is a clever subterfuge. Behind this plea for humanity lies a profitable water power.
" No one has asked, or will ask, that the health of the Chicago people be injured. No court in the land would sanction such a course. The sanitary district authorities know this. The sanitary district also knows that a reduction plant would make the diversion of lake waterways unnecessary. But the sanitation cry has the ring of appeal and serves well to protect the real objective a powerful hydroelectric plant.
* In order to maintain a ship canal, water-much water-it is alleged, is needed. The Lake-to-the-Gulf promoters have been led to believe this, when the truth is that less than 1,000 cubic feet of water is required for the ship canal, while 10,000 cubic feet would be destructive of such a project.
"The hydroelectric plant operates under a head of 64 feet. The estimated capacity of the plant is 48,000 horsepower. Competent engineers hold that if the water were not diverted here, but allowed to take its natural course to the Great Lakes, it would produce five to six times as much power in the Niagara district, owing to the greater head. Thus the artificial diversion is a large waste of a perpetual natural resource.
The so-called ship canal as a transportation project is a gigantic failure. But the ship canal slogan has been accepted by the Mississippi Valley people and has served to defend the real objective-the hydroelectric plant. *
"The scheme entered into by Chicago whereby the city utilized the water of Lake Michigan to flush its sewage and incidentally created a profitable water power plant, also, several years ago, attracted the attention of the State of Illinois. The latter saw an opportunity to extend the water-power feature by erecting another plant at some distance westward from Lockport, Illinois. The physical conditions permitted the construction of another hydroelectric plant. If the City of Chicago could clean up a million dollars a year on the sale of power, why could not the State of Illinois clean up another million?
" When Robert Isham Randolph, an engineer who was employed by the Chicago Association of Commerce, spoke on the drainage canal operation at Milwaukee in the spring of 1923, he made the statement that the power plant provided light for the streets and hearths of Chicago, effecting an annual saving of over $1,000,000. The report of the sanitary district also shows that the sale of power to manufacturing plants along the canal netted a profit last year of $90,000.
"Mr. Hering, in his report of 1907, states that the desired 10,000 cubic feet per second discharged through the drainage canal will produce at Lockport 20,000 horsepower, and at Joliet 27,300 horsepower, which at an estimated value of $25 per horsepower, will produce an annual revenue of $1,407,500.'”
It is contended : 1. That the withdrawal at Chicago of 10,000 cubic feet per second lowers the level of Lake Erie by 6.1 inches; 2. That such lowering has caused a damage to inner harbors and connecting channels on the Great Lakes approximating the sum of $12,000,000 ; 3. That every inch in the lowering of the lake levels causes a reduction in the carrying capacity of an American and Canadian lake fleets of six hundred Tessels, and a consequent total loss of over $3,000,000 annually;
4. That the unlawful extraction of large volumes of water out of Lake Michigan has enabled the creation of a hydroelectric power plant which yields profits exceeding $1,000,000 annually to the City of Chicago;
5. That six times as much power can be developed at Niagara with the same water used at Chicago, through a New York State hydroelectric plant;
6. That the continued and excessive diversion of lake waters into the Chi. cago drainage canal causes a great injury to the commerce of the nation and
is in violation of the laws of the United States, of the treaty relations with the Dominion of Canada, and against all precepts of right and justice, to Cleveland, Buffalo, and other cities located on the lower lakes.
In view of the above, I recommend that The Council of the City of Buffalo go on record against unlawful or additional water diversion at Chicago; and that the city clerk be directed to notify the Congressmen representing Buffalo, and also the United States Senators Wadsworth and Copeland, of the attitude of Buffalo in respect to this matter, and urging that they endeavor to protect the interests of this city by necessary legislation.
Received, filed, and recommendation adopted.
C. O. BACKMAN, City Clerk.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., March 13, 1924. COMMITTEE ON RIVERS AND HABBORS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: Am inclosing herewith a letter from Mr. Frank A. Whiteside, of Carrollton, Ill., relative to the proposition now pending before your committee having to do with the flow of water through the Chicago Sanitary District. I am referring this to your committee to be considered together with other matters that may be brought to your attention. Yours very truly,
W. J. GRAHAY.
CARROLLTON, ILL., Jarch 7, 1924. To the Senators and Members of Congress from Illinois,
GENTLEMEN : Responding to an appeal which the Sanitary District of Chicago made yesterday by a full-page advertisement in the press throughout the State, in which they called upon the people of Illinois, “ If you would do for Chicago what Chicago would do for you," to write to you, I submit the following:
I do not want to do for Chicago what Chicago has done for me. If I did, I would divert the waters of the Illinois and other rivers into the Chicago River, and empty the sewerage of the entire State and part of other States into it, destroying its animal life. I would thus endanger the health and lives of the inhabitants of that city by contaminating their water supply. I would depreciate and damage their real estate by raising the water level of their river so that the low ground would be too wet for successful cultivation during cropping seasons, except at an expense for pumping so great as to be unprofitable. I would, when the river was at flood stage, turn into it vast quantities of water, largely in excess of what I had legal permission to do, and thus cause the levees along their river to give way, destroying property and homes and endangering life iteself. I would, in short, imperil the health and the very lives of the children of that city, wipe out property values, and jeopardize her municipal investments, and in doing this I would do for Chicago just what Chicago has done for the people of the valley of the Illinois.
But this advertisement says, “Illinois Valley claims for overflow damages are being settled as rapidly as agreements can be reached." If true, that is a very late thing. Practically since it was organized the sanitary district has maintained a large and expensive corps of skilled attorneys, engineers, and experts to fight every claim for damages of this kind, and in the majority of cases have succeeded in defeating these claims by making the cost of litigation prohibitive, the landowner not having sufficient financial backing to carry his suit to a successful conclusion. The district's apparent willingness to settle damages now reminds me of the adage, “ When the devil is sick, the devil a monk would be, but when the devil is well, the devil a monk is he."
Damages for creating a condition which tends to breed pestilence and sickness and endanger human life are damages which can not be settled by agree. ment nor measured in terms of dollars and cents.
No, gentlemen, my conscience will not permit me to want to do for Chicago what Chicago has done for me; but I am ready to assist Sir Adam Beck, or anyone else, in any action which will tend to stop this flow of sewerage down the once beautiful Illinois River, with its great damage to property and its menace to human health and life. Yours very truly,
F. A. WHITESIDE.
[Editorial from the Plain Dealer and Daily Leader, Saturday, February 9, 1924)
UNDER A NEW NAME
The McCormick bill to legalize Chicago's illegal diversion of water for sewage dilution “and other purposes " died with the last Congress. Its reintroduction has been expected but, so far as we have observed, it has not yet made its appearance. Instead comes the bill of Representative William E. Hull of the sixteenth Illinois district, practically identical with the Chicago Senator's proposal. H. R. 5475 bears the name of Hull, but it speaks with the voice of the Sanitary District of Chicago.
Like its model, the McCormick bill of the last Congress, the Hull proposal pretends to be what it is not or what it is only in part. “For the improvement of commerce," reads the title, “and to authorize appropriations for the construction of certain public works in the Illinois River and for other purposes." What it would really accomplish if enacted would be to authorize Chicago to take from Lake Michigan for sewage dilution the 10,000 cubic feet per second which she is now taking contrary to law.
The issue goes back for years. From the beginning it has been the case of a great city overriding the interests of two nations in order to ease her own problem of sewage disposal and to make hydroelectric power with water belonging to others. The navigation feature of the proposal is merely a blind. A by-product of this illegal diversion, which the Huli bill would legalize, is seen in gradually dropping lake levels, jeojardizing the vast commerce that travels this inland-water route.
As long ago as Secretary Alger's day in the War Department the drainage district secured the Secretary's permission to extract from the lake 4,167 feet per second. This is the only authorization ever given for diversion in any quantity whatever. In the face of this limitation, however, Chicago has been diverting for some years approximately 10,000 feet per second, well over twice the amount officially permitted.
Two cases are now before the Federal Supreme Court challenging this illegal diversion. One is by the Government, won in district court at Chicago and now pending at Washington on appeal. The other was brought direct to the Supreme Court by the State of Wisconsin. The first is purposed to confine diversion to the terms of the Alger grant; the second challenges the authority even of that permit.
No one can forecast a Supreme Court decision, of course, but it seems reasonable to expect in one suit or the other a decree adverse to the sanitary district. So Chicago, first through the McCormick bill and now through the Hull bill, asks Congress to nullify the Federal Government suit and the Wisconsin suit while both are pending before the Nation's high court. The sanitary district is like a highwayman caught with the goods and pleading for a law to legalize his theft.
Were navigation the purpose instead of the pretense of the McCormick-Hull proposal, nothing like the amount of diversion proposed would be necessary. Engneers assert that less than 1,000 feet would be necessary for the 9-foot channel to the Mississippi which the bill asks the Federal Government to build at an expense of $5.700,000. Nor is it generally believed that more than 4,167 feet are necessary even for proper sewage disposal. This leaves the difference between the amount of water legally diverted and the amount illegally diverted to be used for the production of hydroelectric power for profit.
The McCormick-Hull proposal is unsound from whatever point of view it is analyzed. It is convincing only on one point-Chicago's desperate determination to take water that belongs to the United States and Canada jointly and use it for her own convenience and profit. Talk of a Mississippi waterway in this connection or of regulating works to maintain like levels is beside the mark; the feasibility of neither has been established.
Rejection of the Hull bill, and of the McCormick bill if it makes an appearance, ought to be one of the absolute certainties of this legislative session.
[The records of the United States Engineer Department show that there has already been a decrease of 51 inches in the depth of water of the Great Lakes, with a potential loss to the public of approximately three million tons of this cheap transportation annually.)
FULTON SUFFERS FROM CHICAGO SEWAGE
[From the Fulton Democrat, Lewistown, Ill., March 5, 1924.)
On page 11 will be found a paid advertisement from the Chicago Sanitary District in which that district depicts Chicago's danger from insufficient dilution of her sewage.
While this condition and the dangers threatening Chicago from sewage contamination is probably true, the people living along the Illinois River bottoms are in equal danger from the increased flow from Lake Michigan which Chicago feels is necessary to her health.
The situation presents the most puzzling dilemma which has arisen in our up and down State relations for many years. If the sanitary district has its way, unhampered, ruin from flood waters stares the Illinois River bottom farmers in the face, and riverside cities and hamlets will be in constant menace from damage by floods.
On the other hand, sanitary experts tell us that if they do not get an increased flow from Lake Michigan to boost the sewage down the Chicago River the city will be menaced by sewage pollution.
The only way out of the dilemma that sounds practicable to us is for Chicago to start building a sewage-disposal plant.
In Peoria this week there is a hearing on damages sustained in Peoria and Tazewell Counties on account of the overflow of the Illinois River. One has already been held in Beardstown,
We give below the story told to President Coolidge a few days ago by representatives sent by Fulton and other counties adjacent to the Illinois. We know that Doctor Kerr is a truthful man. He was accompanied by Congressman Guy L. Shaw, of Beardstown.
They told the President of the destruction done by the Illinois River during flood times, and of the frightful condition of the waters because of the sewage diluted into the Illinois River by the Sanitary District of Chicago.
" We are fighting for our lives and our homes," said Doctor Kerr. "just because the Sanitary District of Chicago will not install sewage-reduction plants. The district now draws 10,000 cubic feet per second of water from Lake Michigan for sewage dilution purposes, and this emptying into the Illinois River, overflows the banks, causing such destructive floods as that of 1922. And the Sanitary District of Chicago now wants Federal permission to continue this condition indefinitely and to turn even more than 10,000 feet of water into the river, thus making our situation even more serious.
“ These facts are not generally known outside the valley district, so we want the people of the State to know the true situation. We are not calamity howlers—we are fighting with our backs to the wall for our self-preservation-to save our homes and our lives.
“ The Illinois River is frightfully polluted as far as Peoria. All fish life is gone. The farmers' livestock will not drink the water. The frightful odors on the upper river on summer days are unspeakable. The Peorians are obligeri to abandon their summer cottages and the destruction of properties and farın lands continues as far down as Grafton, a distance of 350 miles. Commercial buildings erected on highland 20 years ago now have their window sills rotting in water; farm lands that 20 years ago yielded big crops now make homes for frogs. Landowners have joined together to build levees to keep these excess waters off their land only to have more water turned down on them. The low water level has been raised 8 feet at Peoria and 6 feet below Beardstown.
“ Government engineers have stated that 4,167 feet per second should be the maximum amount of water taken from the lake, and even went so far as to ask for an injunction to restrain the sanitary district from taking out more water. The water of the sanitary district is shown by the fact that this injunction has laid dormant in a Chicago court for 14 years. In all this time
the sanitary district continued to withdraw from 10,000 to 16,000 cubic feet of water per second, in spite of the adverse opinion of the War Department engineers.
“We are a poor people. We are fighting a powerful corporation. Disaster and ruin are staring us in the face unless the situation is relieved. We are appealing to the people outside our district to investigate our claims and to impress their Representatives in Congress that we should have the relief we seek even if for no other reason than to save our homes."
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C., March 15, 1924. Mr. JOSEPH H. McGann, Clerk Committee on Rivers and Harbors,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. McGann: I take the liberty of inclosing herewith resolution adopted by the Pennsylvania State Park and harbor commission of Erie at a meeting held on March 7 last with reference to the diversion of water from Lake Michigan by the Chicago Drainage Canal, as I understand there is legislation on this subject pending before your committee. Very truly yours,
STEPHEN G. PORTER.
Whereas investigations and studies made by engineers of the Corps of Engineers, United States Army, and by this commission, indicate clearly that the diversion of water from Lake Michigan by the Chicago Drainage Canal has lowered the general level of water in Lake Erie; and that during the year 1923 this level was permanently lowered fully 6 inches; and
Whereas the continuance of such diversion of water by the Chicago Drainage Canal is certain to bring Lake Erie to a still lower level, thus augmenting damage already done due to the lowering of the level of Lake Erie; and
Whereas this lowering of the lake level, caused by such diversion of water, is seriously affecting property owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which includes the bay and harbor of Erie, the peninsula of Presque Isle, and other water and water-front property, under the direct supervision and control of this commission, and, if continued, will necessitate the expenditure of large sums of money for dredging and other work : Therefore be it
Resolved, That the Pennsylvania State Park and harbor commission of Erie does hereby protest against any further diversion of any water from any of the Great Lakes by the Chicago Sanitary District for the said drainage canal, and urges upon you the importance of exerting every influence to prevent any further lowering of lake levels by the increased diversion of water through the said drainage canal: Be it further
Resolved, That copies of this resolution be sent to the Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania, to the United States Senators from Pennsylvania and to the Representatives from this State, to the district engineer at Buffalo, N, Y., and to the Erie Chamber of Commerce.
HENRY, ILL., March 22, 1924. Hon. WALLACE DEMPSEY,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.: After careful consideration of the Hull Deep Waterway Bill and its possibilities we are asking our Representatives in Congress to oppose its passage as well as the passage of any other measure which does not give full protection to the right of he residents of Illinois River Valley.
MARSHALL PUTNAM FARM BUREAU,
(Article published in the Henry News-Republican, March 20, 1924.) 16TH DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE ON CHICAGO DRAINAGE PAY ROLL, SAYS C. U. STONE
"Illinois has her own "Teapot Dome' scandal, but it does not smell of oil but rather of sewage,” said Claude U. Stone, of Peoria, to the Commercial Club, of Washington, nii., Monday evening.