Monday, December 08, 2008

Sewage in Fourth Lake: 1907 Letter to NYS Commissioner of Health

September 16, 1907

EUGENE H. PORTER, M.D., State Commissioner of Health, Albany 


I have the honor to report that on Friday, September 6, 1907, I visited Fourth Lake on account of statements made to you by A. S. Hamilton, under date of August 26, 1907, and by Hon. Thos. D. Ferguson, under date of August 19, 1907. I find that Fourth lake is one of the larger Adirondack lakes, about five and one-half miles long and about three-quarters of a mile wide, receiving waters from Fifth Lake and from Eagle creek and discharging into Third Lake and finally into the middle branch of the Moose river at Old Forge. The Raquette Lake railroad, running from Clearwater to Raquctte lake, skirts its northern edge and a steamboat line operating three boats makes connection between Old Forge and all the lake points. On account of their easy access the shores are well sprinkled with hotels, boarding houses, and cottages, which are well filled during the summer season. The usual practice of all the houses, provided with modern plumbing, is to discharge the sewage directly into the waters of the lake, in most cases carrying the outfall pipe into such a depth of water that the discharge is not directly objectionable to the senses. There is some evidence of garbage along the shores and it was stated that one of the hotels, the Cedar Island Camp, has been in the habit of regularly dumping its garbage into the lake. The hotels claim to use only spring water for drinking purposes, though they acknowledge that they depend on the lake as the source of general water supply for all other domestic purposes. One of the hotels, the Rocky Point Inn, is said to occasionally use the lake water for drinking purposes, even although its sewer discharges not far from the end of the water inlet pipe. These considerations cannot fail to be prejudicial to the health of the guests of the hotels and might easily lead to a serious epidemic. 

I recommend, therefore, that the Department write to each of the hotels named below, personal letters, calling attention to the existing dangers and asking that, in the interests of their guests, an attempt be made to secure an upland water supply for all domestic purposes.  

I recommend also that they be directed to discontinue all direct discharge of sewage into the lake, and that properly dimensioned sedimentation tanks be constructed on the line of each outfall pipe. I recommend also that the hotels be advised that, failing a proper revision of the water supply system and the sewer discharge charge pipes, the Department will feel obliged to call the attention of the public to the danger of patronizing such indifferent hotels. 

The list of hotels on Fourth Lake is as follows: 

The Arrow Head, Inlet, Hamilton county. 
Cedar Island Camp, Old Forge, Hamilton county. 
The Cohasset, Old Forge, Hamilton county. 
The Eagle Bay Hotel, Eagle Bay, Hamilton county. 
Grand View House, Inlet, Hamilton county. 
Hart's Camp, Eagle Bay, Hamilton county. 
Inlet Inn, Inlet, Hamilton county. 
Kinmore Hotel, Old Forge, Hamilton county. 
The Mohawk Camp, Old Forge, Hamilton county. 
The Neodack, Inlet. Hamilton county. 
Rocky Point Inn, Eagle Bay. Hamilton county. 
Bald Mountain House, Old Forge, Hamilton county. 
Crystal Spring Camp. Old Forge, Hamilton county. 
Manhasset House, Old Forge, Hamilton county. 
Twin Maple Camp, Old Forge, Hamilton county. 

Respectfully submitted, 
Acting Consulting Engineer 

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