1927 Lake Superior Health Report
Posted on: February 16, 2018
American Journal of Public Health, 1927.
An excerpt from the American Journal of Public Health, 1927.

Thank goodness that times change. While all major cities on the shores of Superior now have state of the art water pollution control plants, the document referenced below points out that this wasn’t always the case.

“The residents of the United States and Canada possess, in the splendid immensity of the series of waterways through which so much of their common boundary passes, a heritage of inestimable value…”

This is the first line of the Lake Superior Health Report of 1927 produced by the Dominion Department of Health, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The document was forwarded to Infosuperior by Klaas Oswald of Sault Ste. Marie, who pointed out that it might be of interest to Infosuperior’s readers. The report states that in 1927, there were only two municipalities discharging untreated sewage to Lake Superior, these being Duluth and Two Harbors, Minnesota. The report goes on to laud 10 US municipalities where there is, “partial or nearly complete treatment,” as follows:

Information from a 1927 report on Lake Superior.

The report notes that “Sanitary surveys which have been conducted by the Division of Sanitation of the Minnesota State Department of Health in cooperation with the city of Duluth have indicated quite definitely that the pollution due to the sewage from the city of Duluth and that which is carried in by the waters of the St. Louis River is confined to a relatively small area in the vicinity of the city of Duluth.”

As to 1927 era industrial pollution, the paper has the following to say,“The only two places where industrial waste pollution is serious are at Marquette, where chemical wastes sometimes produce tastes in the municipal water supply, and at the Newberry Chemical Plant on the Tahquemenon River. It is a long distance by river from Newberry to Lake Superior and it is doubtful if this pollution has a very marked effect upon the water of the lake.”

The report adds something that will be of interest to residents of Thunder Bay, where pulp fiber can be found to this day in large quantities in the northern section of the harbour, “The paper mill companies state that they are already making arrangements to install machinery for the recovery of fiber as a logical business improvement.”

Before going on to talk about “Typhoid Fever Rate per 100,000 Population in Cities in the Lake Superior Region,” the document notes, There are only three municipalities of any importance on the Canadian shores of Lake Superior waters: Fort William and Port Arthur on Thunder Bay, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the latter being really situated on the upper waters of the St. Marys River. None of these municipalities treat their sewage…”

Want to give the full 4 page document a scan? Click here.


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