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Archive for Tuesday, November 27, 2012

100 years ago: Bacteria-laden river water pumped into city supply

November 27, 2012

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Nov. 27, 1912:

  • "'Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.' And in this respect the Ancient Mariner who shot the albatross hasn't very much on the city of Lawrence in its present condition. Out at the water plant there are two big basins filled with water, a splendid article with which to combat fires but unsuited to quench the thirst of the city. For it is river water. Not all river water, but partially so.... Last week the water company extended a line to the river and began pumping water in the large basin at the plant in order that in case of a fire emergency supply of water thus obtained could be used in fighting the fires. This basin was pumped full and then it is said that valve trouble appeared and the river water was also pumped into the smaller basins which supply the city with water. At the University the water analysts soon discovered a great increase in the number of bacteria contained in the water.... No doubt many Lawrence people have been using this water unconscious of the fact that river water had been pumped into the pipes. It would be well for all who are using city water for domestic purposes to boil the same before using in the future.... The downtown health officials have issued no warning officially, but such a warning is expected soon."
  • [Editorial] "When will the people of Lawrence wake up? It is bad enough to have our property destroyed, but our lives are in danger. Yet the city calmly sits by and allows the intolerable conditions to exist. It is time to get busy. Lawrence must own its water plant. For more than a quarter of a century we have fooled along with an inadequate water supply and poor quality. To continue the present condition is murder. It is time for us to act as human beings and refuse to be victims any longer. What are we going to do about it?"
  • "George Smith perhaps never received such a lecture as that given him this afternoon by Judge C. A. Smart of the District Court. Smith is a young colored boy who was tried in the court last week on a charge of assault. He was found guilty of assault and battery, but Judge Smart evidently did not approve of the finding of the jury and in sentencing the young man he said, 'The jury failed to grasp the significance of this case. No murderer at the penitentiary is worse than you are. The jury in this case did an injustice to society and to you in letting you off as easy as it did. You have a smooth tongue but a murderous heart. Some day you will either be on the gallows or in an electric chair somewhere in the United States, if you do not change your ways.'"

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