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tive. The complexity of the hydrographic problems usually involved in a study of flood conditions, together with the expense incident to a technical investigation to determine the causes and means of relief, constitute one of these obstacles. Small municipalities cannot usually see their way clear to employ a hydraulic engineer to investigate such problems, and conclusions arrived at, or remedies applied without such a study are likely to result in an unsatisfactory manner. Furthermore, the proper remedies, when ascertained, usually require for their execution the acquisition of land and water rights which individuals or minor municipalities have no power to condemn. Another obstacle arises from the fact that the distribution of the burden of expense for any particular improvement can scarcely be made equitably, or the payment of the amount enforced by any means other than the power of assessment. These were the conditions which led up to the demand for a State investigation and the creation of the State Water Storage Commission. That Commission, after about a year's investigation and research with a remarkably small appropriation at their disposal, submitted to the Legislature an extremely valuable and comprehensive report on the flood conditions of the principal streams of the State. The report pointed out that storage reservoirs constituted the only practicable solution of the problem in the majority of instances, and recommended the construction of several such reservoirs at points where conditions were known to be favorable. Having submitted its report, the Water Storage Commission automatically ceased to exist. The next step in the development of the water-storage movement was the creation of the River Improvement Commission by act of the Legislature in 1904. The creation of that Commission was the only practical outcome of the valuable report on the causes and remedies of floods in New York rivers made by the Water Storage Commission in 1903. The River Improvement Commission was invested with power to make preliminary investigations, plans, and surveys for the regulation of the course of any stream, of which the restricted or unrestricted or irregular flow should be shown by petition of local residents to be a menace to the public health and safety of the community. If the improvement appeared to be of suffcient importance and the Legislature approved, the Commission was then authorized to carry out the project and to assess the cost of the same according to the benefits received by the various individuals and the properties benefited. To provide for carrying on the work pending the collection of such assessments, authority was given the Commission by the act to issue certificates of indebtedness, or to sell bonds, to be retired on the collection of the cost from the beneficiaries. That Commission was composed principally of State officers as ex-officio members, and while its work was excellent its progress was unavoidably slow. While the River Improvement Commission was still in existence, the State Water Supply Commission was created in 1905; the primary object of its creation being to insure an equitable apportionment of the sources for public water supplies among the various municipalities and civil divisions of the State. The Legislature apparently had a very clear conception of the need for such a State agency and hence created the Water Supply Commission with those specific powers. It soon became apparent that this Commission was in better position than the River Improvement Commission to study flood conditions, involved as they were with the general subject of water supply; so that by Act of the Legislature in 1906 the River Improvement Commission was discontinued as a separate board, and all its powers and duties were transferred to the State Water Supply Commission. The jurisdiction of the Water Supply Commission was thus considerably broadened to include the study of water storage on a large scale. Its powers and duties were subsequently extended to an investigation of water-powers within the State, and the preparation of a plan for their general development. The Commission is therefore engaged in three distinct but closely related lines of work : (1) the apportionment of municipal water supplies; (2) the improvement of rivers in the interest of public health and safety; and (3) the formulation of a plan for the general development of the water-power resources of the State.
Municipal Water Supplies
In practically working out a comprehensive plan for water conservation, the State has rightly begun with the matter of public water supplies. Previous to the establishment of the Water Supply Commission, the laws of the State permitted any city, village, or other municipal corporation to acquire or condemn lands for sources of water supply practically at will, and without regard to whether its plans were just and equitable to other municipalities and their inhabitants that might be affected thereby. Thus, a large city armed with the power of eminent domain might take territory from a smaller community regardless of the present or prospective needs of the latter for the water sources thus appropriated. In fact, the people of the community invaded did not always have the foresight to realize that they would sooner or later require those sources for themselves. It can readily be seen that such a course might involve a serious menace to the future growth of the smaller community. Fear of such procedure led to the passage of special prohibitory laws for many localities, particularly those adjoining New York City, against what was feared might be the ruthless exercise of the great power of the larger community. The effect of such legislation, involving as it did so much hostility between the different localities of the State, proved that the then current practice afforded but a partial, inadequate, and unfair method of administering the distribution of sources of water supply. rovision for a pure and adequate supply of water for domestic purposes for all its inhabitants is one of the first duties of the sovereign State. Through its important effect upon public health alone, the general use of pure water is a matter of the gravest importance to every man, woman, and child regardless of local divisions of government or grouping of citizens. It was with a realization of these principles that the Legislature of 1905 wisely determined to delegate the power of control over the selection of sources of public water supply to a permanent commission which, by the aid of constant and special consideration of this subject, should become expert in controlling such selection so as to insure equity, among all the inhabitants and civil divisions of the State, and the resulting unimpeded prosperity, growth and comfort of each and every community. The law, therefore, provides that no municipality, or person, or water-works corporation engaged in supplying the inhabitants of any municipal corporation with water shall have power to acquire lands for any new or additional sources of water supply until its plans have been submitted to, and approved by, the Water Supply Comin 1ssion. In passing upon plans thus submitted to it, the Commission is empowered to determine: (1) whether the proposed plans are justified by the public necessities of the community; (2) whether the plans are just and equitable to other communities, special consideration being given to future as well as present needs for water supplies; and (3) whether the plans make fair and equitable provision for the determination and payment of any and all damages, both direct and indirect, which will result from their execution. Under the operation of this law, which appears to have set a precedent among the States of the Union in the general State administration of water-supply resources, there has resulted a smoothly adjusted progress in the development of public water supplies, without further need of appeal to the Legislature for the drastic prohibitory. special legislation formerly so much sought after. It is thus well established in the public law of New York State that the control of sources of water supply is a State function, and that all persons or municipalities must apply to the central State Government and receive permission to take what may be determined to be a just share from the State's total supply of this indispensable resource. It must, therefore, be evident that the State should aim toward an ideal of administration of its water resources which would secure fully and impartially the rights of each and every one of its inhabitants and all of their local groupings to a just and equitable share of the public waters. This problem becomes especially complicated under our modern conditions of civilization which in promoting the growth of enormous cities, call for engineering works of the greatest scope and magnitude for the purpose of providing the requisite quantity of pure and wholesome water. One of the most recent and familiar illustrations of this fact is the present vast undertaking of New York City, which at a cost of about $161,000,000, is going 90 miles to the Catskiil Mountains to secure a water supply which its engineers estimate will be sufficient for its needs for only a comparatively few years. In this great project, as well as in the case of many others not so great, there is involved a large element of hardship and damage to the locality invaded, in the necessary taking of private property for the larger public water supply by constructing immense storage reservoirs which permanently occupy the lands thus acquired, and furnish no considerable means of support and prosperity to the region—as is the case when land is acquired for railroad purposes. This project of New York City constituted the first important case to come before the Water Supply Commission for its official approval. After extended and careful consideration of all the manifold interests involved in this remarkable project, and after a protracted series of hearings, the suggestions of the Commission with regard to the protection of the rights of all the other municipalities and people affected were incorporated into law, and the project received the sanction of the Commission. Under the authority thus given New York City has entered upon its work of constructing the most pretentious municipal water-supply system in the United States. *
Subsequent to the New York City petition, many other applications from villages and cities, large and small, have been passed upon. By the accumulation of special knowledge resulting from comparing the problems of different localities, the Commission has been able to bring to the aid of the smaller communities of the State a fund of experience and counsel which in not a few instances has proved of great benefit and assistance. The Commission aims to make its practice simple, expeditious, and inexpensive; and the technical points involved in each application are carefully passed upon by a competent engineer.
A complete census of all existing water supply plants and systems has been made and is revised from time to time, and the progress of each applicant whose plans are approved is carefully followed. Construction work involving expenditures of $230,000,000 has been passed upon by the Commission and undertaken by the municipalities of the State. This has entailed the official consideration by the Commission of 85 separate applications, in connection with each of which public hearings are conducted.
Numerous complaints have been filed with the Commission alleging unsatisfactory domestic or fire service both on the part of municipalities and water companies. The source of dissatisfaction seems to be the lack of foresight on the part of the municipal or water company officials, as a result of which they have obtained an inadequate supply or insufficient pressure. There are many instances of this condition in the State. There are also many consumers who object to excessive rates which they claim are imposed upon them by water companies. On the other hand, some of the companies themselves have attempted to secure legislation to provide that the State shall be the arbitrator in the adjustment of water rates. These conditions seem to point to the conclusion that in the comparatively near future the State will have to assume control over these matters. A certain degree of this sort of control is exercised in an indirect way at present in the case of applications which are before the Commission for consideration, but no jurisdiction lies with the Commission unless the acquisition of lands for a new or additional source of supply is involved.
River Improvement for Health and Safety
A number of river-improvement petitions presented to the River Improvement Commission and still pending at the time that Commission's powers were transferred to the Water Supply Commission involved the construction of storage reservoirs in the Adirondack forests. The River Improvement Commission had considered the constitutional questions involved in the utilization of State forest lands for storage reservoir purposes, and had reached the conclusion that the force of a clause in the Constitution prohibiting the removal of timber was paramount to all exercise of the police authority of the State to protect the public health and safety; and it had declined further to consider any petitions involving the utilization of State forest lands for reservoir purposes. The Water Supply Commission on the other hand has held that the statutes relating to river improvements in the interest of the public health and safety are not sufficiently comprehensive to afford a proper basis on which to advance systematic water conservation involving water-powers. The existing river improvement law has the health and safety element as its basis, whereas the carrying out of a comprehensive conservation policy would be of greatest financial value to the existing and new power, developments, owing to the regulating effect of storage reservoirs on the flow of the streams. For this reason the Water Supply Commission has not urged the execution of river improvement projects involving water storage, under existing statutes, and has recommended to the Legislature that the advancement of such projects should await, the determination of a definite State policy and the formulation of a thoroughly comprehensive plan by means of which the storage reservoirs shall constitute a source of income to the State, even after the bonds are retired. Several projected improvements therefore await the enactment of a more suitable statute.
Meantime, however, an important project calling for rather different treatment had arisen in the proposed improvement of the Canaseraga creek, the most important tributary of Genesee river. This project originated with the River Improve; ment Commission, and the Water Supply Commission inherited and actively carried on the consideration of the problems involved. For the last 22 miles of its course this creek flows through a broad, fertile valley. Owing to the steep declivities of the upper water-shed and the resulting suddenness and severity of floods in the Valley, a large portion of these flat lands were submerged two or three times a year, and the channel had gradually become filled with silt which raised the prism to such a height that the stream itself and its banks were actually higher in places than the adjacent land. In times of flood the stream overflowed and the water would stand for several days at a time over the low areas, in a large measure destroying such crops as were in a growing condition and effectually deterring the
farmers from cultivating the lands thoroughly and systematically. The project of improvement which, after due course of public hearings and consideration by the Water Supply Commission received the official approval of the Legislature, contemplates the straightening, widening, and deepening of the channel of the stream, so as to afford a much more capacious flood prism and to shorten the length of the stream through the flooded district by about six miles. At the same time lateral ditches are proposed to be constructed to carry off the overflowing waters from the lower adjacent lands in order to protect them permanently from any serious or protracted inundation. This project did not involve the use of any State forest lands, nor did it affect any water-power developments. The fact was readily established that the proposed improvement was of great importance to the public health and safety of the community, and also of great importance, from a financial point of view, to the prosperity and general welfare of the community on account of the benefits that would accrue to agriculturists from the protection to be afforded by the proposed improvements against flood damages. The machinery involved in the working out of the project was put in operation and from time to time various obstacles were encountered which had to be surmounted by amending the law. Gradually the statute has been so moulded that it is now thought to be in practical working order, and the proposed Canaseraga creek improvement is actually provided for and financed; the bonds having been sold at a good premium. The actual work of the footion of the proposed improvement will probably be begun in the near uture. The practicability of the method having thus been established the Water Supply Commission believes that the State now has a method by which floods may be mitigated if there are no water-powers or State forest lands involved. On the other hand, the solution of the problem where these complications do exist, is much more difficult. In the cases of the Genesee, Hudson, and Raquette rivers, petitions for the improvement of which have been filed under the public health and safety statute, very little real relief can be afforded by straightening or enlarging the channels of the streams. Water storage appears to be the only practicable solution, and the water-powers which would be improved could afford to bear a larger share of the cost of improvement than those who would benefit from flood control.
Water-Power and Water Storage
The most recent extension of the jurisdiction of the Commission, under which it is investigating the water resources of the State, contemplates three principal lines of operation. These are: (1) To collect information relating to the waterpowers of the State; (2) to make plans for such specific developments as the Commission deems available; and (3) to make such other investigations and studies as will enable it to devise a comprehensive and practicable plan for the general development of the water-powers of the State for the public use and benefit and the increase of the public revenue under State ownership and control. In accordance with this statute, the Commission has proceeded to investigate in great detail the conditions governing rainfall and runoff of streams within the State, and has maintained a number of observation and gaging stations in cooperation with the United States Weather Bureau and the United States Geological Survey. A detailed investigation was also made by competent engineering employees to determine the number, capacity, equipment, and other material information relating to practically every water-power in the State. A general investigation of topographic conditions has also been made and practically all promising storage opportunities have been located and their approximate possibilities determined. A number of great reservoir projects have been surveyed and mapped in great detail. In many instances borings have been made to determine the character of foundations for dams, and complete detail plans of the dams and other structures have been prepared. The financial phases of a number of these great projects have been gone into in detail, and an exhaustive study of the constitutional and other legal aspects of the problems involved has been made by the Commission, and the required comprehensive plan has been prepared.
In spite of the great natural advantages which New York State possesses in its interior streams with their enormous possibilities for power, developed and undeveloped, the fullest utilization of these possibilities can never be realized under existing conditions. Every river in the State exhibits such irregularity of flow that the water-power which may be economically developed from the present minimum flow is far below the average which can be attained by means of scientific regulation. The difference between maximum and minimum flow of most of our streams when stated in figures is startling to the layman. The Hudson, which is more or less typical of the streams of the State, has a maximum recorded daily discharge of 100 times its least daily flow. The Genesee, which is much more flashy, has a maximum daily discharge about 400 times the minimum daily flow. On the other hand the Oswego, which is naturally more or less regulated by storage in the “Finger Lakes,” has a maximum discharge about 20 times the minimum. The yearly discharge of some of the rivers in a wet year is nearly double the yearly flow of a dry year. On a great many streams as much as threefourths of the volume of yearly flow usually runs off in the spring and early summer months. These remarkable fluctuations of stream flow are principally attributed to the uneven distribution of precipitation through the year, which unfavorable conditions are undoubtedly aggravated by the varying conditions affecting evaporation, which is generally greatest in the months of least precipitation. Over a large portion of the State, the greater part of the annual precipitation occurs in the winter and spring months. Considerable water is temporarily stored in the snow banks, and is usually reduced to the equivalent of rain simultaneously with the customary heavy rainfall of the early spring months. It is quite common for millions of cubic feet of water to run over the falls and dams in the streams during these spring freshet periods which, if it could be stored until the drier summer and fall months, would be of wonderful utility in not only maintaining a higher rate of flow in those dry months, but also doing away largely with the damage and inconvenience incident to the sudden run-off of flood waters in their natural condition. These conditions point to the necessity for large water storage reservoirs as the only practical means of accomplishing any considerable degree of regulation. The investigations of the Water Supply Commission have shown that there is an installation of water-wheels having a capacity of about 830,000 horsepower within New York State, of which amount about 200,000 horsepower is at Niagara Falls. The average daily output of the plants is about 620,000 horsepower, including 145,000 at Niagara Falls. There are in all more than 1,800 hydraulic power plants within the State, many of which are equipped with steam auxiliary power plants. The total capacity of these auxiliary plants is about 124,000 horsepower. The investigations have indicated a total development of about 1,500,000 horsepower to be economically feasible within the State. This would be uninterrupted continuous power, exclusive of Niagara river and the portion of Saint Lawrence river not under the jurisdiction of New York State. A considerable part of this amount is represented by that which would be added to the existing developments by the regulation of the flow of the streams. A number of individual opportunities exist for considerable new developments, some of the more important of which are a 30,000 horsepower on Genesee river at Portage Falls, a 30,000 horsepower on Sacandaga river at Conklingville, a 32,000 horsepower on Raquette river at Colton Falls, and many others ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 horsepower. The investigations of the Commission have shown that the construction of large storage reservoirs for impounding flood waters may be beneficial in many ways. Probably not all of the possible advantages would result from the construction of any particular reservoir. The extent and variety of benefits may be summarized somewhat as follows: (1) The equalization of stream-flow by storing the water during wet seasons and using the same to increase the volume of the stream through dry seasons; (2) A consequent large increase in the power value of the stream, due to augmenting the low-water flow, and thus doubling or trebling the dependable flow for power purposes; (3) A consequent decrease in the height of freshets, thereby reducing the great pecuniary damages caused by the periodic recurrence of floods; By increasing the low-water flow of polluted rivers a dilution would result which would improve the sanitary conditions on the stream; (5) Navigation would be benefited by a higher stage of water on the lower reaches of the rivers; (6) The extension of transportation facilities, often to an important and desirable extent, by navigation on the proposed reservoirs; (7). The low lands of the river valleys could be made somewhat more tenable, and their agricultural products increased by reducing the contingency of floods; (8) The perpetual submergence of extensive tracts of swamp lands, which are now unsightly and a menace to health, would be possible; (9) The creation of extensive lakes with beautiful shores offering desirable locations for permanent homes and great attractions to summer visitors seeking recreation and health; and (10) Inestimable indirect benefit to the State due to the stimulation of industrial enterprises, the increase in number and prosperity of the people, and the creation of taxable wealth by the progressive development of water-powers.