Sanitary condition of Geddes Brook, 1917

Source: Report of the State Commissioner of Health, 1918

[The Semet-Solvay company was manufacturing explosives at Split Rock during this time.  Geddes Brook flows from south of Split Rock, through Fairmount, and meets Nine Mile Creek shortly above Onondaga Lake.]

The wastes from the plant consist of the sanitary sewage from the toilets and a large amount of trade wastes resulting from the manufacture of the explosives. The trade wastes consist largely of picric acid and picrates, and, according to the statements of the engineer for the company, the waste liquid from the plant sometimes contains as high as 1/10 of 1 per cent of this acid and its salts…

The quantity of the wastes is said to be about 1,000,000 gallons per day… The effluent from the tanks is so diluted by the trade wastes and the waters of the brook that the stream below the point of discharge shows no sign of sewage pollution other than a bright yellow color due to the picric acid and picrates in solution…

The 78 company houses located in the valley below the plant [Split Rock Gulf] are at present all provided with privies having removable metal containers; these containers are removed daily and the contents disposed of by dumping on the surface of the ground about 1 mile from the houses. It is said that the matter is plowed into the soil except when the ground is frozen…

While the discharge of the wastes from the Split Rock plant into Geddes brook may not at the present time constitute a direct menace to public health, such discharge does render the waters of the brook unfit for use. The water of the stream has a bright chrome yellow color but is otherwise perfectly clear and shows no sign of sewage pollution. According to the analyses of the water made by the Semet Solvay Co the water has a slight acid reaction and shows a low bacterial count with no indication of intestinal bacteria. The wastes discharged in the stream are poisonous, but the water of the brook has a very bitter taste, and there is little possibility of either cattle or human beings drinking any amount of it.

Lower Geddes Brook (in the Town of Geddes) has undergone a wetland restoration project in recent years.


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