Twelfth Annual Report of the Department of Public Health of Massachusetts

Twelfth Annual Report of the Department of Public Health of Massachusetts

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Excerpt from Twelfth Annual Report of the Department of Public Health of Massachusetts: Report of the Public Health Council, at the End of the Fiscal Year Closing November 30, 1926

The great majority of the inhabitants of the State are supplied with surface waters taken from natural lakes or ponds or from artificial reservoirs constructed for the purpose. In a very few cases these watersheds contain small Villages and most of them contain a number of farms, and for the protection of these watersheds rules and regulations have been established by this Department under the authority of legislative acts. Ever Since the beginning of the introduction of municipal water supplies 50 years or more ago the population of rural districts has been gradually decreasing and comparatively little difficulty has been encountered in protecting adequately the purity of public supplies. Furthermore, the acts under. Which water supplies have been introduced have nearly always contained authority for the municipality controlling the works to acquire lands about its sources of supply to protect them from occupation or from uses unfavorable to the purity of the supply. Provision is also made in the general laws whereby cities, towns and fire districts are authorized to take lands by eminent domain for the protection of their water supplies, subject to the approval of this Department. Under these laws many cities and towns have acquired such lands within their watersheds as were necessary to prevent their unfavorable occupation, but in the comparatively few cases where adequate protection has not been secured difficulties are arising in the proper protection of the sources of supply. The introduction Of motor transportation, furthermore, has made possible the occupation of lands formerly too remote from centers of population and industry to.permit of their use for occupation, and under these conditions the watersheds of water supplies near the large centers of population, and especially the neighborhood of the Metropolitan District, have rapidly become more populous in recent years. In consequence. Of the impracticability of adequately protecting their watersheds from a growmg population, a serious question has arisen in a number of cities and towns as to the practicability of continuing the use of existing sources of supply, and in some of them filtration has already been resorted to or is under consideration. The use of water more or less directly polluted by sewage and other wastes of human life and industry is undesirable, no matter how effectively it may be treated for the purpose of neutralizing the effects of pollution. It is fortunate that so many of the public water supplies of the State have been protected by the foresight Of the managers of these works who have secured such adequate control of their watersheds that they can continue to be used with safety for an indefinite time. The continuation of this wise policy will no doubt secure such further protection as is the case of most of the sources of supply in use.

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