London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Walthamstow 1904

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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The Clerk to the West Ham Corporation, also wrote in May, complaining
of alleged pollution of the Channelsea River from the same
During the year, a large amount of underdraining of the Farm has
taken place, and every care exercised in the precipitation and subsequent
treatment of the sewage before its discharge into the Brook ; but
in spite of this, in the proceedings at Stratford. Mr. Young, on behalf
of the Lea Conservancy, gave evidence that the effluent was dilute
This is not in itself such a serious matter. Chemical and bacteriological
experts say the same of the London water supply.
All are agreed that a good effluent. equal to the Standard of the
River Pollution Commissioners, is very desirable and ought to be
aimed at.
Remembering the large expenditure involved and the uncertain results
of the many different schemes, recommended by expert chemists for
sewage purification, and placed as we are, I think that the powers that
be should not expect more than that our effluent would not be a
nuisance dangerous to the Public Health.
Your willingness to adopt any scheme that would deal adequately
with this serious problem, and your acceptance of the scheme of the
Lea Conservancy Board, makes that body's action unintelligible.
In November the Clerk was instructed to report as to the advisability
of applying to the Local Government Board for a Provisional Order
for the formation of a united district among the neighbouring authorities
for the disposal of sewage, and in December the West Ham Corporation
and Hackney Borough Council were invited to join the Council in
their interview with the Board upon this difficult question.
No scheme of sewage disposal, short of taking the sewage out of
the district, will suffice for more than a few years except at a ruinous
cost to a poor district like yours, and entire removal can only be a
matter of time. Meantime every effort should be made with the means
at your disposal, and no new scheme should be embarked upon without
a probable certainty that the results will justify the expenditure.
No complaints have been received during the year of smells in
connection with the sewage disposal, and the sewers proved adequate
for the needs of the district. A number of new surface water drains
have been constructed, and the ventilating shafts in the district now
number 51.