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MEMBERS OF THE BOARD
Term Expires 1910
DR. CHARLES S. CAVERLY, Rutland, President,
DR. HENRY D. HOLTON, Brattleboro, Secretary,.
stream or body of water. In 1902 the Legislature added to the duties of the State Board of Health by providing that the Board should have supervision of the sources of water and ice supplies, with power to prohibit the use of water or ice when, in its opinion, it was so contaminated, unwholesome, or impure that the use thereof endangered the public health. It further provided that the Board should consult and advise relative to proposed water supplies, or the disposal of drainage or sewage.
Recognizing the responsibility thus laid upon us, on April 14, 1904, under the authority of Section 2, we issued an order that after that date no city, town, village, community, public institution or individual should empty any sewage into any body of water, spring, or stream tributary thereto, when such water is used by any city, town, village, public institution, individual, or by any water or ice company as a source of water or ice for domestic use. This order was not retro-active, hence the many instances in which, for a long or short time previous to this date, various streams or bodies of water had been polluted by persons or towns discharging their sewage into them, it is claimed that they had a right to do so. We are of the opinion that neither individuals nor corporate bodies can ever acquire a right to do or cause to be done any act which shall in any way become detrimental to the public health, or to that of individuals. This is apparently a question for our courts to decide.
In our last biennial report we stated that there were several cities or villages having a water supply so polluted that it was a menace to the health of all users of such water; hence we had issued a warning notice to the cities and villages that they must, within a year, procure a pure water supply. Some of these towns began a serious consideration of the problem, and all but two have provided a system which promises to give a pure and wholesome water supply. It has been a great surprise that in this enlightened age there should be in this good state of Vermont two towns that prefer to allow their people, and persons temporarily visiting their towns, to suffer from the results of the use of such contaminated water. Under a section of the Public Statutes we are obliged to ask the Court of Chancery to enforce the prohibition of the domestic use of this polluted water. At the present time there exists no authority by which any unincorporated village can legally provide itself with a system by which they may dispose of their sewage. The selectmen of a town can lay drains for the purpose of disposing of surface water, but cannot provide for the laying of pipes for the disposal of sewage. We would recommend that the next Legislature provide, by a general law, that the selectmen of a town shall, on petition of a certain number of citizens or by order of the Board of Health, provide a system by which sewage in any portion of their town may be disposed of in a sanitary manner, without discharging into any stream or body of water.
In providing a pure water supply, or a system for drainage disposal for a municipality, the most efficient and economical method to pursue most often requires the skilled work and judgment of a trained sanitary engineer; hence we recommend that the State Board of Health be authorized to appoint such person possessing the requisite qualifications to be known as Sanitary Engineer to the State Board of Health, such engineer to render such aid and perform such duties as the Board may require of him, from time to time, and make reports and recommendations to the Board as to the best manner of installing water or sewage systems.
In securing a gravity system of water for the use of a town a most important consideration is the inspection of the watershed which supplies the springs or streams which it is proposed to use.
Also, in installing a system of sewers, an inspection of the village and its environment is first to be considered. The same is true when nuisances are said to exist; an inspection must be made as the first step towards its abatement. Upon the Secretary, as the Executive Officer, has devolved this work. So much has his office work increased that the prompt service usually given to these inspections has recently been somewhat delayed. The Board has authority to employ such assistants as it shall judge necessary; however, its appropriation will not allow the funds necessary for such a purpose.
The report of the Director of the Laboratory is herewith transmitted for your consideration. The work in the examination under the Pure Food Law, as well as other departments, is fully set forth.
You will note that there has been a continual increase in the work performed by the Laboratory staff. This is gratifying, especially as it serves to establish the usefulness of this branch of our public health service, demonstrating that it annually returns to the state much more than the appropriation given to defray the expense of its maintenance. However, it must be apparent that with the continually increasing demands upon its service there must be a commensurate increase in the annual appropriation made by the state for its continued service.