Thursday, January 14, 2016

January 14, 1927 -- Chicago Makes a Case for Continued Lake Diversion

January 14, 1927 -- The report of George M. Wisner's testimony before Charles Evans Hughes, Special Master of the United States Supreme Court, is printed. Eisner, the consulting engineer for the Chicago sanitary district, attempted to answer the demands of Wisconsin and five other Great Lakes states seeking an injunction that stopped water diversion from Lake Michigan into the Chicago River. Eisner recounted what life in Chicago was like before the river was flushed with lake water. He said, "The Chicago river was a pest hole of typhoid and intestinal disease germs . . . It was a big septic tank festering on the bottom and sending upwards dangerous poisonous gases. The crust of filth sometimes became so thick that a chicken could walk across the river. At other times the crust caught fire." To avoid a return to those days, Wisner asserted that a maximum of 10,000 cubic feet of lake water per second was needed to cleanse the river. Chicago lost the battle when the Supreme Court decreed on April 21, 1930 that the diversion of lake water be gradually reduced to a 1,500 cubic feet per second rate by December 31, 1938. The photo above pictures the river as it looked about the time Wisner offered his testimony.

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