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Office of the Cochituate Water Board, 

February \, 1855. 

To the City Council of Boston. 

The Cochituate Water Board, in conformity with 
the provisions of the City Ordinance, respectfully pre- 
sent their Annual Report for the year 1854, and also 
transmit the several reports of the City Engineer and 
Water Registrar, made to them pursuant to the same 
ordinance, to which they would beg leave to refer the 
Council for full details of the state of the Water Works, 
and of the various transactions of the year relating to 

The Water Board feel gratified in being able to state 
that the general condition of all* the Works, compre- 
hending the structures at the Lake, the aqueduct, 
reservoirs and distributing mains and pipes, is quite 

The repairs on the brick Aqueduct, which have been 
brought to the notice of the City Council, in previous 
reports of the Water Board as being in progress, are 
now completed ; and various leaks and fissures, some of 
which had existed from the laying of the works, and 

4 WATER. [Feb. 

had been a source of anxiety, from their endangering 
the stability of the structure, by causing the foundation 
to be undermined or washed away, have been, it is 
beheved, effectually and permanently stopped. 

The subject of the accretions in the pipes, which has 
also formed a considerable topic of former reports, has 
continued to attract the attention of the Board. Our 
previous anticipations in relation to their future pro- 
gress, — viz. that their rate of increase would diminish, 
— seems to be, to a great extent, confirmed. The re- 
searches and experiments of Professor Horsford, insti- 
tuted for the purpose of ascertaining their precise 
origin, and of discovering, if possible, the means of 
preventing it, have been still further pursued ; and are, 
as we hope, now nearly and successfully completed. 
By a reference to a communication from him hereto 
annexed, it will be seen that in his opinion the cause 
of the accretions has been most satisfactorily ascer- 
tained, and a confident expectation, founded on the 
results of actual experiment, is expressed of the possi- 
bility of effectually protecting the metal from them. 

The extension of the works by laying distributing 
and service pipes in new streets, &c., has been con- 
tinued during the year, wherever it was called for, 
and when the rule originally adopted by the Board, 
requiring the assessment of a water rate equal to six 
per cent, on the costj-was complied with. 

The operations chargeable to this head have been 
much diminished, the amount of distributing pipe laid 
having been 3,976 feet less than the previous year. 

The length of Distributing Pipes of 4, 6, and 12 
inches diameter laid during the year is 9,014 feet, and 
19 stop-cocks were affixed. The whole length of pipes 
of 4 inches and upwards now laid, including hydrant 
branches and bends, is nearly 110* miles. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 5 

The whole number of Stop Cocks is 960. 

The number of Service Pipes laid during the year is 
659, the length of which is 24,893 feet. The whole 
number is 17,999. 

The number of Hydrants established during the year 
is 25. The whole number is 1,210. 

The whole number of leaks repaired in pipes of 4 
inches and upwards was 74. The last year it was 85. 

The whole number in those of less than 4 inches 
was 280. The last year it was 260. 

The supply of water from Lake Cochituate has been 
amply sufficient for all the public, domestic, and manu- 
facturing uses to which it has been applied, notwith- 
standing a greatly increased consumption, of more 
than a million and a half gallons daily, and also the 
long and severe drought which prevailed during the 
summer and part of the fall, by which the lake was 
deprived of the supply usually received during that 

The gates at the outlet dam were closed on the 30th 
of May, the water then being 7 feet S/4 inches deep 
above the flume. The water was gradually drawn oif 
for consumption in the City, and also lost by evapor- 
ation, with scarcely any compensating supply from 
rain, until the 10th day of November, when it stood at 
2 feet 1/4 inches above the flume, or 5 feet 1 inch below 
the point where it was when the gates were closed, 
and nearly 2 feet lower than it had been before since 
the construction of the works. Since that time it has 
been rising, and on the 1st of January it was 6 feet 
above the flume. 

The quantity delivered at the Brookline Eeservoir, 
and brought into the City, was 3,614,243,335 wine 
gallons, being a daily average for the year of 9,902,000 

6 WATEE. [Feb. 

Deducting from this amount a large estimate of the 
quantity probably lost by leakage in E,oxbury, as stated 
in the City Engineer's report, the consumption in the 
City appears to have been more than 60 gallons for 
each inhabitant. The greatest daily average consump- 
tion took place in the month of June, the least in 
November, and there was an increase in the con- 
sumption every month over that of the corresponding 
months of last year, except in the months of October 
and November, when it was less. 

The rain-fall, calculated from gauges kept in various 
places, as stated in the report of the City Engineer, 
was 44 inches. The quantity which fell on the whole 
water-shed is therefore assumed to have been about 
14,467,038,300 gallons. The quantity wasted from 
the outlet of the Lake is estimated at 3,733,541,000 

The amount received on account of Water E-ates 
during the year, including those for Jamaica Pond, 
and also for shutting off and letting on water for non- 
payment of water rates, for repairs, and for unnecessary 
waste, and also for laying service pipes, has been 
^222,924.70, being ^25,734. 38 more than the amount 
received from the same sources the last year. The 
estimated receipts for the ensuing year are ^^25 6,000. 
The Report of the Water Registrar contains a statement 
in detail of the particular amounts received from the dif- 
ferent sources, and also of the several tenants to whom 
the water has been supplied, of which the following 
abstract has been prepared and collated with a similar 
statement of the last year. 









Dwelling houses -• . . . 





Stores, shops, ofiSces, cellars, &c. 





Hotels, restaurants, and saloons 





Stables ...... 





Eailroads -.-.-. 





Ferry Companies .... 





Steamboats ..... 





Hose ...... 





Motive power 





( Sugar refineries, distilleries, brew- } 
1 eries, and bakeries • • ) 





Gas Companies .... 



Other manufacturing purposes - 



Citj' buildings and other City uses - 


Public buildings, charitable institu- ) 
tions, &c. - - - - ) 



Shipping contract with watermen 



Street waterers .... 



Building purposes .... 



Other purposes .... 





To the above must be added one railroad, where the 
amount due is not as yet precisely adjusted, and a 
sugar refinery, in which a question has been raised by 
the proprietors as to the accuracy of the water meter, 
in consequence of the very large quantity of water 
which it indicates to have been used. 

The total number of water takers entered for the 
present year is 19,193, being an increase of 1,023 over 
the last year. 

The water has been shut off in 2,325 cases, and it 
has been let on in 2,741 cases. Repairs have been 
made in the service pipes, streets, &c., in 446 instances. 

For the purpose of discovering the places where the 
water was suffered to run to waste unnecessarily, two 
persons were appointed early in the year as Inspectors, 
whose duty it was to visit the different parts of the 
city in the night time, and to report to the Water 
Registrar's Office the cases where any inordinate waste 

8 WATER. [Feb. 

could be detected, and notice was thereupon given to 
the parties that their supply would at once be cut off. 
In most cases this was not done, the parties agreeing 
to prevent the occurrence in future, and paying the 
amount prescribed in the ordinance. The Inspectors 
performed this duty solely for about two months, and 
were afterwards employed to some extent for the same 
duties, but more generally in other business of that 
office during the year. The number of cases of waste 
reported was 731, the amount paid on account of 
the same was ^1462, being more than the compen- 
sation paid to the Inspectors for all their services dur- 
ing the year. In many of the cases the waste detected 
was apparently reckless and entirely useless ; in others 
it was caused for the purpose of preventing freezing in 
the pipes, but the quantity wasted was exorbitant, and 
altogether beyond what was necessary for the purpose 

It is believed that the measures thus adopted were 
the means of preventing much waste in certain places. 
It is obvious, however, that the Inspectors could only 
detect it in cases where it could be actually seen, as, 
for instance, from hydrants; or where the discharge 
was so large that it could be heard in the adjoining 
streets. The quantity used at the time in the City 
very clearly proves, however, that there must have 
been as profuse wastefulness prevailing in other places, 
not exposed to the inspection of the City officers, and 
which at one time produced so great a loss of head as 
to threaten somewhat serious consequences. During 
the month of January the daily average was 10,800,000 
gallons ; on the 25th of that month it was 11,000,000, 
on the 26th 13,100,000, and on the 28th and 29th up- 
wards of 14,000,000. The reservoirs at South Boston 
and on Beacon Hill were entirely drained, and there 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 9 

was only 3K feet of water left in that at East Boston, 
and there was a failure of supply in many houses on. 
Mount Vernon, Fort Hill, and the higher parts of 
Broadway. Had a fire occurred at the time, it would 
have been difficult to foresee the extent of the damage 
which might have been caused. 

It was stated .in the last annual report that the 
Board had been directed by an order of the City Coun- 
cil to revise the tariff of Water Rates, and to report 
the same at an early day to the City Council. The 
Board accordingly submitted a new tariff to the City 
Council, in which they proposed to increase the revenue 
derived from the Water Rates so that it might approxi- 
mate more nearly to the annual interest payable on the 
water loan. They therefore suggested the addition of 
one dollar to the water rate on each dwelling-house, — 
a specific rate on various kinds of water fixtures, when 
used in any other places than dwelling-houses, — an 
increased rate on stables, and also for water when 
drawn in large quantities for manufacturers and other 
like purposes. They also proposed, for the purpose of 
preventing and discontinuing the use of certain descrip- 
tions of water closets, where a large and inordinate 
quantity of water is wasted, to charge them, wherever 
used, with a very high water rate. 

The tariff thus submitted was not adopted by the 
City Council, except the additional charge of one dollar 
to dwelling-houses. Instead of it, the only other alter- 
ation made in the existing tariff was a rate of five dol- 
lars upon each dwelling-house where a water closet or 
bathing tub is used. It makes no distinction, there- 
fore, between the different kinds of those fixtures, and 
only charges for them when used in dwelling-houses, 
allowing the use of one in various other places without 
charge. The alteration will produce a considerable 


10 WATER. [Feb. 

increase in the income, but we would respectfully sug- 
gest whether it does not hold out an inducement for 
the construction of the most wasteful kind of fixtures, 
as they are the cheapest, and impose an onerous tax 
on dwelling-houses, already assessed not according to 
the quantity of water used in them, but to their valu- 
ation by the assessors. 


By the Account of Receipts and Expenditures hereto 
annexed, the same appear to have been as follows, viz. : 

The whole Amount di-awn from the City Treasury was $80,182.35 
From which deducting the Amount 
paid for unsettled claims for land 
and water rights - - - - $14,713.52 
Extension of the Works - - - 31,519.35 


Amount of Current Expenses - - 33,949.48 

The whole Amount of Receipts (in addition to those 
charged in sundry accounts, and excepting water 
rates) was 
For Rents and Sundries, paid to the 

City Treasurer - - - . 12,423.29 

Balance $21,52 6.19 

The Water Board have at last the pleasure of being 
able to state that the only outstanding claims for dam- 
ages, occasioned by the original construction of the 
Water Works, have been finally settled by the adjust- 
ment which has been effected during the past year of 
those made by the mill owners on Concord River, and 
by the Middlesex Canal Corporation, for being deprived 
of the water of Lake Cochituate. These claims were 
originally ten in number, and the aggregate amount of 
damages sued for was nearly half a million of dollars. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 11 

Two of them were tried, in one the jury could not 
agree in a verdict ; and in the other, where the damage 
laid was ^150,000, they awarded ^500. A proposition 
was then made for the discharge of all the claims, and 
they were finally settled and discontinued by the pay- 
ment of the sum of ^0,678.90, on the part of the City. 

Taking into consideration the large amount claimed 
by the several parties, the uncertainty as to what would 
be the views which different juries might entertain of 
the law and evidence in the various suits, and the ex- 
pense and trouble which would necessarily attend the 
trial and defence of them, it is very confidently believed 
•that the arrangement which has been made is eminently 
advantageous to the City. And, in addition, it may be 
also stated that the City has now the power of dis- 
posing of the Compensating Keservoirs in Hopkinton 
and Marlborough, and Boon and Ramshorn ponds, near 
the latter, which were originally purchased and im- 
proved at an expense of upwards of $72,000, for the 
purpose of supplying Concord River with water during 
the dry season, and thereby lessening the damages 
which it was feared might be occasioned by depriving 
it of the water of the Lake. It will be the endeavor of 
the Board to effect a sale of the above property as soon 
as a purchaser at any reasonable price can be found. 

The Water Board confidently trust that the present 
state and future prospects of the Water Works, as far 
as they are dependent on the subjects already referred 
to in this Report, must be the source of satisfaction to 
all who feel in any way interested in their success. 
The supply of water in the Lake is ascertained, more 
especially by our experience during the drought of the 
past season, to be far greater than was originally cal- 
culated; as is also the capacity of the aqueduct; various 
imperfections which existed in parts of the works from 

12 WATEK. [Feb. 

tlie beginning have been remedied, and their permanency 
and durability more certainly ascertained or established ; 
the annual cost of carrying on the works has been much 
diminished, and there is a probability of its being here- 
after still more so ; and the income is gradually in- 
creasing, the receipts for the past year being ;^5 3,407, 
and the estimate for the next year, under the new water 
tariff, being upwards of ^95,000 greater than those of 
1851 ; and a great variety of claims for compensation 
and damages, to a vast amount, and quite uncertain as 
to their results, have been settled and got rid of, and 
on terms, in the aggregate, far more favorable to the 
City than had been originally anticipated. 

While, however, the Water Board would congratu- 
late the City Council that the experience of the past 
year has thus borne its additional testimony to those 
which have preceded, in confirmation of the most san- 
guine anticipations which were originally entertained 
of the sufficiency of the supply of water from the Lake 
for all the uses of the City, they regret to be obliged to 
report upon a deterioration in the quality of the water, 
which has recently been, most unexpectedly, found to 
be so universally prevalent, as to be not only a source 
of much annoyance to every water taker, but also of 
solicitude to all who feel an interest in the welfare of 
the City. It was first observed in October last, and 
consisted of a marked and peculiar taste, resembling, in 
the opinion of some, that of fish, but we believe in that 
of a great majority of persons, that of cucumbers or 
some similar vegetable, the taste being sometimes ac- 
companied by a disagreeable smell. 

On the presumption that it was local in its origin, 
and in fact confined to the circulation in the mains and 
distributing or service pipes, they were all forthwith 
thoroughly flushed out. This operation, together with 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 13 

the change of the water produced by the ordinary con- 
sumption (by which alone, as the pipes will hold but 
little more than 3K million of gallons, and the con- 
sumption Avas at the time over 9 milHons, the whole 
body of water in them is discharged oftener than twice 
in twenty-four hours), it was hoped, would be a suf- 
ficient remedy for the trouble ; as it certainly would 
remove all sources of impurity originating in or con- 
fined to the pipes themselves. It was, however, not 
the case ; indeed, in most instances th_e impurity seemed 
to be actually increased by the operation. There were 
also other anomalies quite difficult to account for. The 
water, for instance, in the dead ends^ — that is, in the 
pipes which terminate abruptly, without being con- 
nected with others, as those laid in courts, &c., — was 
frequently proved to be uninfected ; although the cir- 
culation in those places, being subject only to the 
actual draught of residents there, would be necessarily 
quite sluggish, and the water naturally become stag- 
nant and impure ; and, on the other hand, in other 
larger pipes, where the current was continuous and 
rapid, it was quite offensive. 

It was also satisfactorily ascertained that the water, 
after being drawn a few days, lost all its repulsive char- 
acter and became tasteless. There was in no case any 
appearance of fish or any other foreign matter in the 
v/ater discharged from the hydrants or stop-cocks, nor 
any stoppage in any of the service pipes, which must 
be the case when any fish get into them. It seemed, 
therefore, requisite to look beyond the limits of the 
City for the origin of the difficulty, and upon exami- 
nation it was found that the water in the Brookline 
Reservoir and the Lake was affected in precisely the 
same way. For the purpose of a thorough investi- 
gation of the subject, it was then deemed expedient to 

14 WATEE. [Feb. 

have the water in the City and the Lake analyzed by 
scientific chemists, in whom the public would have 
confidence, and whose opinion as to the nature and 
origin of the evil, and the prospect and mode of relief 
from it, would have due weight and authority. 

Professor Horsford, of Cambridge, and Dr. C. T. 
Jackson, of this City, were accordingly appointed for 
this purpose. They proceeded to the Lake and care- 
fully examined the water in different parts of it, and at 
different depths ; and also some part of the surrounding 
water-shed ; and made a careful analysis of the water at 
the Lake and also in different parts of the City, with- 
out any disclosure being made to either of them of the 
places whence the several specimens of water had been 
taken. The result of their inquiries is contained in 
their respective reports which were made to the Water 
Board and published by its direction in the public 
prints, in order to relieve, as soon as possible, the 
anxiety on the subject which very generally prevailed. 
The reports were made and the investigation conducted 
by their respective authors independent of each other, 
and without mutual consultation, and they did not, in- 
deed, see each others reports until they were printed. 
The communications contain a great variety of interest- 
ing information, and the subject of them is discussed 
so minutely and elaborately that they are deemed worthy 
the special consideration of the City Council and a per- 
manent preservation for future reference. The Water 
Board would therefore beg leave to make them a part 
of their Report. It will be found that both the He- 
ports came to the same conclusion with that which 
had been previously suggested in a communication 
made by order of the Board,— viz., that the impurity 
complained of is derived from vegetable decomposition 
existing in the Lake itself, — that it might be attributed 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 15 

to the unusually long and severe drought of the last 
summer and to the subsequent rains acting on tlie 
peculiar soil of part of the Lake and over the whole 
water-shed, — and that complete relief might be antici- 
pated from the natural agency of the approaching cold 
and rains. 

A brief description of Lake Cochituate, the source of 
supply of water to the City, may be acceptable to such 
members of the Council as are not at present familiar 
with it, as affording them some means of forming a 
more satisfactory opinion on the subject. The Lake is 
about 3/^ miles in length in a direct line, the contour 
of the margin being upwards of 1 2 miles. It is sepa- 
rated almost completely into three nearly equal divisions, 
connected with each other by quite narrow passages, 
about 7 or 8 feet deep. The water gradually increases 
in depth in each division from the shore. At .high 
water, or when it is 8 feet high over the flume at the 
outlet, the greatest depth in the southern division is 
about 70 feet, in the central 50 feet, and in the northern 
62 feet. The superficial area at high water is esti- 
mated at 684 acres, and at low water, or the level of 
the flume, 489 acres. Adjoining the southern division 
there is a large meadow of about 55 acres, called 
" Whitney's Meadow," and also a peat meadow of 
about 65 acres ; and adjoining the central division, 
near Snake Brook, which formerly flowed into the 
Lake, there is another piece of marsh land, and there 
are some small bays in other places ; and the increase 
in the surface of the Lake, between high and low 
water, takes place mostly in these meadows and bays. 
At high water there are 125 acres which are not covered 
with more than 5 feet of water. When the water is 
but 3 feet above the flume, the peat meadow is to a 
great extent covered, but the Whitney Meadow and 

16 WATER [Feb. 

that in the central division are mostly bare. For the 
purpose of preserving the purity of the water, dams 
were built separating the AVhitney Meadow, and also 
that near Snake Brook, from the rest of the Lake, as 
recommended by Messrs. Jerviss and Johnson, the Water 
Commissioners in 1845. They also proposed to remove 
the peat from the other meadow for the same object. 
The other parts of the shore are generally a bold sand 
or gravel bank. The outlet dam, and also the gate- 
house at the commencement of the aqueduct, are placed 
in the northern division. 

Dug Pond, a very important tributary to the Lake, 
is situate near the southern division, and consists of 44 
acres of very pure water, elevated considerably above 
the level of the Lake, and surrounded by quite high 
gravelly banks. It is separated from the peat meadow 
by the Central Turnpike, beneath which it is conducted, 
through a culvert, into the meadow, and flows over it 
into the Lake. 

The water-shed, or tract of country which is drained 
into the Lake, is bounded by the range of hills which 
separates the streams running into Concord River from 
those which run into Charles River, and is estimated to 
contain 11,400 acres, after deducting the lake, and also 
several ponds which probably lose by evaporation most 
of the rain which falls upon them. There is probably 
more than 1000 acres of marsh land in the water shed. 

It was deemed important to ascertain, as far as prac- 
ticable, whether the deterioration of the water during 
the past year was peculiar to Lake Cochituate, or 
whether other lakes and ponds have not been subject 
to the same trouble. As far as the Board have been 
able to institute any inquiries, they have found that 
the difficulty has by no means been confined to the 
Lake. Among others, Round Pond, near Haverhill, 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.—No. 9. 17 

and which supplies that town, was examined by the 
City Engineer, and some of the water brought to this 
City. It was precisely similar in taste to the Cochituate 
water. There was also sufficient evidence that Jamaica 
Pond had been in the same state recently. The waters 
of the latter pond, which are usually exceedingly pure, 
some years since were for a time quite offensive both 
to the taste and smell. The cause of the impurity, 
however, was never discovered. It has, indeed, been 
stated, in a communication made to the Board in No- 
vember last, that it proceeded from an oil '• which in- 
vestigation showed was from decomposing remains of 
dead eels ; " and the author then attributed the im- 
purity of the Cochituate water to a similar cause. This, 
however, we take to be a mistake. We are assured by 
the gentleman who had the entire charge and care of 
that pond at the time presumed to be alluded to, as 
the offensive character of the water was then quite 
notorious and it has not been so at any other time, 
that the origin of the evil could not be ascertained, but 
that there was no appearance of dead fish in the pond 
or the water pipes ; and we are also assured by the 
scientific chemist who analyzed the water at the time, 
that he could discover no trace of animal matter in it. 
We are inclined therefore to believe that the cause of 
the offensive character of the Jamaica Pond water was 
then as much a subject of speculation as that of the 
Cochituate water is now. 

There is also proof that several wells near the Lake 
and in other places have had their water affected in a 
similar way ; and also that the water in the Chicojpee 
Miver was for a time quite offensive. 

A communication from George C. Carpenter, Esq., 
Superintendent of the Water Works at Albany, to the 
City Engineer, describes some occurrences which took 

18 WATER. [Feb. 

place in relation to the state of the water there in 1853, 
bearing a marked reseml)lance to what has happened 
here. In October of that year, complaints began to be 
made of a nauseous fishy taste in the water, which at 
first was supposed to be caused by small fish being 
lodged in the supply pipe. The evil, however, became 
soon so universal that it was obvious that the cause 
instead of being local was general. In some places 
the taste, accompanied by a peculiar smell, was very 
offensive, while in others it was scarcely perceptible ; 
and some places were affected several days previous to 
others only 330 feet distant, in the same street, with a 
free circulation, the mains being connected and on the 
same plane. The taste also affected individuals very 
differently. Some thought it fishy, and to others it 
had the taste of cucumbers so strong, that there was 
nothing else to which it could be adequately compared- 
A thorough examination was made at once ; and the 
Superintendent is of opinion that he traced the source 
of the evil to a grass which was found growing in great 
profusion along the margin of the lake, from whence 
the water is drawn. The plant had shed a large quan- 
tity of seeds along part of the margin, and he found 
the water above it offensive, and when the water lying 
upon the seed was taken into the mouth, he thought it 
impossible to doubt the origin of the impurity. The 
taste of the seeds was also highly offensive. 

Rensalaer Lake, whence the supply is derived, was 
formed by building a dam across a creek and confining 
the water within it. The unusual rain fall of that 
year had raised the water so high that, for a width of 
several feet along the entire margin, it covered a lux- 
uriant growth of the grass before mentioned. On the 
presumption that this was the origin of the impurity, 
the water was immediately reduced to its former level, 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 19 

beyond the reach of the plant, in the course of a few 
days it was sensibly improved, and in three or four 
weeks it attained its usual purity. 

From all the evidence therefore which has thus far 
been obtained on this subject, the Board are of opinion 
that the recent impurity in the water, from whatever 
source it may have arisen, has been by no means 
peculiar to Lake Cochituate, but has infected other 
ponds and collections of water in the same manner and 
to the same extent. They are not without proof also, 
that the same thing has been observed in the Lake in 
past years, though at a distant period of time. 

The remote cause of the impurity, the Board are 
still disposed to attribute to the long drought and hot 
weather which prevailed during the past season, by 
which the water was unusually reduced in the Lake, 
and a large extent of marsh and peat land connected 
with the Lake and over the water-shed, was either 
entirely exposed, or but slightly covered with water ; by 
which animal and vegetable decomposition must have 
been greatly promoted, and the products washed or 
carried into the Lake by the rains which began to fall 
about the time when the offensive condition of the 
water was first perceived. 

If the cause thus assigned were absolutely demon- 
strable as the true one, it would perhaps be expedient 
to adopt at once the necessary measures to preven^t the 
recurrence of the evil hereafter, or at least to diminish 
it ; by stopping the flow of water from the peat meadow 
into the southern division of the Lake, and conducting 
the water through it in some way, so as to be untainted 
by any mixture with it ; as is suggested in the report of 
the City Engineer — or by removing the peat ; and thus 
carrying out the plan originally proposed, as has been 
stated, by the Water Commissioners, who early ex- 

20 WATER. [Feb. 

pressed their fears that the water might be contaminated 
by it. The expense attending the latter operation is 
probably one reason why it was not effected at first. 
The exemption which we have experienced from all 
the untoward consequences which were feared, and 
which encouraged the hope that they would never be 
realized, has been the reason for not doing it since. 
Both these projects however, would now seem to de- 
mand the earnest consideration of the Board, and it 
will accordingly be given. 

The Board do not at present deem it expedient to 
adopt any of the other modes of purification which 
have been proposed. Their value and importance 
would seem to depend almost entirely, on the weight 
to be attached to the conjectures, which the reasoning 
or fancy of their authors have given rise to, as to the 
causes of the trouble. The Board have no satisfactory 
evidence of the existence of any of the causes which 
have been thus suggested. There is no appearance of 
the number of fish in the Lake being too abundant, as 
is supposed to be the case by some ; nor that it is too 
much diminished, as is assumed by others. In fact, 
their numbers and variety appear to be the same as 
heretofore. There are no symptoms of any sickness or 
disease among them ; and there is not, nor has there 
been the slightest appearance of the decomposing re- 
mains of dead fish of any kind, or of any other animal 
matter, in the Lake, reservoirs, or mains, or in the 
water flushed off from the mains ; all which have from 
time to time been assigned as causes of the deteriora- 
tion. There has been also some suspicion expressed 
of the action of a volcano. The presence of dead fish 
or fish oil in the water, was however, the first sug- 
gested cause, and is still, by some, pertinaciously ad- 
hered to. In discrediting it entirely, the Board and 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 21 

the chemists employed by them, are directly at variance 
with the publicly expressed opinion of a well known 
chemist, whose judgment is of course worthy of re- 
spect ; and also, with that of a considerable number, 
whose opinion is founded more on a fancied resem- 
blance of the taste or smell, than any thing else. This 
similarity of taste is, indeed, not perceived by — it is 
believed — the great majority of water takers ; to whom 
the taste appears to be a vegetable one, and is most 
frequently compared to that of cucumbers. But the 
idea of its proceeding from animal decomposition being 
once admitted, it is difficult to be got rid of, especially 
when efforts are perpetually making to confirm it. 

The only reason which has been assigned, independ- 
ent of those derived from the taste and smell, is the 
presence of an oil, said to be a fish oil, which has been 
detected in the water ; the origin of which is assumed 
to be the same with that which infected Jamaica Pond 
some years since, and which is stated to have been 
proved on investigation to have been derived from dead 
eels. We have no evidence, however, of the identity of 
the origin of the oils, nor of the source whence it was 
derived in the case of Jamaica Pond, as we have before 
mentioned. It is also alleged that an oil has been 
found in certain animalculee, which have recently in- 
creased very greatly, both in number and size, as 
ascertained after five years' daily observation, which 
vitiates the water in a similar way ; that these animal- 
culse, or crustaceans as they are called, are carnivorous, 
and live on the decomposing remains of dead fish, doing 
the duty of scavengers. 

"With regard to the supposition of an increase in the 
crustaceans, — as it is opposed to the results of all exam- 
inations which have been made by others, from time to 
time ; and is not indeed confirmed by general experience, 

22 WATER. [Feb. 

as it would be if the increase were large and extensive 
enough to produce the effects contemplated, — it is most 
probable that the observations were made on water 
drawn from some locality where it was exceptionally 
affected. And in relation to the nature of the oil, and 
the habits, economy and duties of the creatures which 
produce it, the Water Board do not feel called upon to 
express any opinion, until those who are more skilled 
in researches into such matters come to some agree- 
ment among themselves on the subject. They can only 
profess their entire and absolute disbelief in the way 
thus devised, of accounting for the recent state of the 
Cochituate Water ; and would refer to the supplemen- 
tary communication of Prof. Horsford. 

The W^ater Board have to regret that the expecta- 
tions which had been encouraged of a speedy termina- 
tion of the evil, were not completely realized. Their 
own observation and the information which they re- 
ceived from different parts of the City, induced them to 
believe, however, that about the middle of January, or 
a little sooner, a decided improvement had began in 
the water in the City, though it was still offensive, and 
at some times and places more so than at others. 
Near the surface of the Lake it was then comparatively 
pure, but at the depth of 25 or 30 feet, in the northern 
division, the repulsive taste continued about as manifest 
as it was previously. In the other divisions it was 
almost entirely tasteless. It was also discovered that 
the water of Dug Pond, whose purity had never before 
been suspected, had undergone a similar deterioration, 
and, at a depth of 25 feet, closely resembled that of the 
northern division ; at the surface, however, it had no 
offensive taste whatever. 

An unavoidable delay which has occurred in the as- 
certaining some of the details of the report, has 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 23 

enabled the Board to continue their record on the 
subject beyond the time fixed by the ordinance for its 
completion. It enables them to state that the improve- 
ments supposed to have been commenced about the 
middle of January, went on increasing till the first 
of February ; and at that time, the water at the Lake 
seemed to have acquired its former purity. Taken 
from every depth in the northern division, it was en- 
tirely tasteless — that in the other divisions had been so, 
for a short time previous ; and various returns which 
they received from different parts of the City, seemed 
to afford them the assurance that the same thing had 
taken place there. In most places where the deteriora- 
tion was marked and decided, there is now no appear- 
ance of it, and in all there is a great and manifest 
change. We are also inclined to believe that in some 
places where the alteration is supposed to be less than 
in others, the difference may be owing to the stagna- 
tion in dead ends, or where the circulation is imperfect 
or retarded. 

Eespectfully submitted, 

Thomas Wetmore, President. 
Henry B. Rogers, 
Adam W. Thaxter, Jr., 
Thomas Sprague, 
Charles Stoddard, 
William Washburn, 
Samuel Hatch. 

Cochituate Water Board. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 25 


Statement of all Expenditures made by the Cochitu- 
ATE Water Board, erom December 31st, 1853, to Janu- 
ary 1st, 1855. 

Blacksmith's Shop, forStock, &c.. 



Plumbing " " " " 



Cartage, Boston, - - - 



" East Boston, 




Travelling Expenses, 



Salaries, - . - 



Office Expenses, for rent, fixtures. 

, &c.. 


Postages, - _ _ _ 



Expresses, - * - 


Stationery, , - - - 


144.28 . 

Printing, - _ _ - 



Advertising, - - - - 



Recording Deeds, &.C., 



Miscellaneous Expenses, for examining 

pipes, water, &c., 



Taxes, _ _ - - 



Oil and Wicking, - - - 


Tools, - - - - 



Fountains, _ _ . - 



Beacon Hill Reservoir, for labor, &>c.. 


South Boston " " 



East Boston " " 



Brookline u u . 



Aqueduct Repairs, for labor & materials. 


Lake Cochituate, for labor, &c., 



Amount carried forward, $22,005.29 




Amount brought forward, $22,005.29 

Tolls and Ferriages, 





Service Pipes, 





«- " Boston, 




It ti g_ it 




" « E, ti 




Water Pipes, 





« " Boston, 





" " S. " 





« " E. " 










" Boston, - 





Hydrant Boxes, 





Stop Cocks, 





" " Boston, 





ti It g^ u 





« " E. *' 





Stop Cock Boxes, - 





Union Stop Cocks, 





Laying Water Pipes, 





« « " Boston, 



tl It u g^ 





tl it il Ji]_ 





Water Meters, 





Repairing Streets, Boston, 




" " S. " 




({ it E. '* 




Repairing Water Pipes, 




" Service " 




" Stop Cock Boxes, 




" Hydrants, 





Marlboro Reservoir, 





Whitehall " 










Land Damages, 





Land and Water Rights 





Amount carried forward, ^61,662.22 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 21 

Amount brought forward, 161,662.33 
Water Works, East Boston, - - 80.65 
Water Works, Boston, - - - 74.19 
Damages, Boston, - - - 101.34 
" E. " - - - - 27.00 
Jamaica Pond Aqueduct, - - 39.53 
Cash, for sums received of H. Rich- 
ardson, for rents, - _ _ 93.75 
Stable, for grain, repairing vehicles, &c., 538.03 
Repair Shop, for stock, &c., - - 347.43 1,181.80 


Amount paid for Labor, viz: 

Letting on and Shutting off Water, - 3,890.37 

Blowing off Hydrants, - - - 794.05 

Laying Water Pipes, Boston, - - 1,506.53 

« " S. " - - 384.73 

" « E. " - - 505.01 

Laying Service Pipes, Boston, - - 1,520.58 

" " S. « - - 395.23 

" " E. " - - 1,032.26 

Blacksmith's Shop, - - - - 750.88 

Plumbing « - - - - 556.06 

Proving Yard, 2,588.03 

Repairing Streets, Boston, - - 327.71 

« " S. " - - 34.74 

« " E. *' - - 21.75 

« Water Pipes, - - - 1,169.74 

« Service " - - - 1,442.60 

« Hydrants, - - - 799.04 

" Stopcocks, - - - 142.23 

Miscellaneous, _ . - - 960.73 

Jamaica Pond Aqueduct, - - 109.64 17,831.78 

Amount carried forward, $80,675.80 

28 WATER. 


Amount brought forward, 



Marlboro' Reservoir, for rent, - 


Whitehall « « 


Rents, - - _ - _ 169.68 493.45 

Amount of Expenditures, |80, 182.35 

Cash paid City 


For Rents, &c., at Saxonville, 




" " Wayland, - 




" «' Needham, - 




" " Brookline, - 




" " E. Boston, 




" " S. Boston, 




Lumber, - _ - 




Derrick, Chains and Pipes, &c., 



Discount on Taxes, 




Old Carpets, - - _ 




Materials, Labor, &c., - - 




Land in Framingham, 




" Brookline, 




Notes for Land in Fra- 

mingham, - - 350.01 


Notes for Land in Brook- 

line, - - - 2,269.68 


Amount paid by the Service Clerk, 
For Service Pipe and laying, 1,892.69 
" Shutting off and letting 

on water, - - 1,888.50 
" Shutting off water for 

waste, - - 1,462.00 5,243.19 12,423.29 

Balance, $67,759.06 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. - 29 

Amount of Expenditures brought forward^ 80,182.35 

Payments m^ade by the Cochituate Water 
Board, for unsettled claim,s and extension of the 
work^ viz : 

Unsettled Claims. 

Land and Water Rights, - - - 14,713.53 

Extension of the Work. 

Main Pipes, 12,464.46 

Service Pipes, _ - _ _ 6,757.12 

Hydrants, - - - - - - 272.34 

Stop Cocks, 2,165.94 

Labor laying Main Pipes, - - 2,396.27 

Materials " " " - - - 1,230.19 

Labor " Service " - - - 2,848.06 

« at Proving Yard, - - - 2,588.02 

Tools, 796.95 46,232.87 

Amount of current expenses, $33,949.48 

Statement of the Expenditures and Receipts on account of 
the Water Works, to January \st, 1855. 

Amount drawn by the Commissioners, $4,043,718.21' 

« " Water Board of 1850, 366,163.89 

« " " C. W. Board of 1851, 141,309.23 

« " « C. W. Board of 1853, 89,654.20 

« " " C. W. Board of 1853, 89,854.03 

" " " C. W. Board of 1854, 80,182.35 


Amount paid into the City Treasury 

by the Commissioners, - - 47,648.38 

Amount paid into the City Treasury 

by the Water Board of 1850, - 8,153.52 

Amounts carried forioard, $55,801.90 4,810,881.91 

30 WATER. [Feb. 

Amounts brought forward, $55,801.90 4,810,881.91 
Amount paid into the City Treasury 

by the 0. W. Board of 1851, 5,232.38 

Amount paid into the City Treasury 

by the C. W. Board of 1852, 15,869.12 

Amount paid into the City Treasury 

by the C. W. Board of 1853, 4,621.40 

Amount paid into the City Treasury 

by the C. W. Board of 1854, 12,423.29 93,948.09 

Sundry payments by the City, 41,597.73 

Discount and interest on loans, 1,841,693,58 1,883,291.31 

Sundry credits by the City, - - 1,203.17 
Amount rec'd for Water Rents, d&c. 926,622.31 927,825.48 

Whole Cost of Water Works to Jan. 1, 1855, $5,672,399.65 


Clerk of Cochituate Water Board, 


^ Cambridge, January 22c?, 1855. 

Thomas Wetmore, Esq,., 

President Cochituate Water Board. 

Sir, — A synopsis of analyses, bearing upon the important 
problem of protecting iron water pipes from corrosion within, 
embracing several hundred determinations, made during the 
past year, has already been submitted to you. In view of 
the results thus attained, it is not too much to say, that the 
cause of the accretion has been most satisfactorily ascer- 
tained, and that all the apparent anomalies hitherto recorded, 
have met with a ready and natural explanation. 

A somewhat extended series of practical experiments 
guided by the results of analysis, has led to the confident 
expectation that it will be possible to protect iron effectually 
against this kind of corrosion and accretion. The results of 
analysis and experiment will better appear together, and as 
the latter are not yet concluded, I beg to delay the presen- 
tation of my report, until the research is ended. 
I have the honor to be, 
' Very respectfully, 

Your ob't serv't, 



(N. B. The specimen of water delivered io Prof. Horsford, No- 
vember 16, ivas taken from house No. 16 Boylston street, as ivas also 
that delivered to Dr. Jackson, and marked No. 2 ; that marked No. 
4 was from the Lake.) 


Thomas Wetmore, Esq., 

President of the Cochituate Water Board. 

Sir : — The undersigned respectfully reports upon the in- 
vestigation of the recent peculiar taste observed in the Co- 
chituate water, as follows : — 

About the middle of last October complaints were made 
of an offensive taste in the Cochituate water from particular 
localities in the City. As time advanced, the complaint be- 
came more general, until at length nearly all quarters of the 
City suffered alike from the impure water. The taste was 
by some thought to resemble that of fish oil, by others that 
of a cucumber wilted and beginning to decay, and by still 
others, that of the water of a stagnant pool in summer. 

It is well known that from time to time fish and eels have 
found their way from reservoirs into service pipes, and dying, 
have imparted to the water an offensive taste and odor. It 
has frequently happened in the Croton pipes of New York, 
and occasionally in the Cochituate pipes. It occurred in the 
Spring of 1851, when, for a time, the strainers of the Brook- 
line reservoir were out of order. These strainers, though 
effectual against large fish, Avould not exclude the young and 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— IN'o. 9. 33 

verj'^ small ones. Such, entering, might increase in size, and 
from various causes die and be carried into the service pipes. 
These considerations, together with the fact that an oily 
substance may be extracted with ether from a filter some time 
in use, and the peculiar odor which exhales from the filter, to 
which the epithet " fishy" had been applied, have lent nat- 
ural support to the view that the cause of the offensive taste 
and smell was to be sought in decaying fish and eels. 

If this were the correct explanation, an annoyance so gen- 
eral should have a correspondingly extensive cause, and dead 
fish ought, at least occasionally, to havcbeen noticed by the 
water officers at some of the numerous wastes which have 
been kept open by order of the city engineer ; and on revers- 
ing filters, fish scales and bones should have been frequently 
found. But so far, no fish and no remains of fish, have been 
seen by the water officers to pass from the pipes since last 
July. Some small white fragments caught upon a filter that 
had been several days in use, and which were described as 
pieces of the muscle of fish or eels, proved, upon microscopic 
and chemical examination, not to be animal matter of any 
description whatever, but lumps of starch, derived doubtless 
from the seeds of shrubbery or trees; growing on the shore 
of the lake. 

An oily matter extracted from the same filter by ether, 
proved to be the wax of the chlorophyl (green coloring mat- 
ter) of the microscopic plants, which have been present at all 
times, and now abound in the water. 

The question of the taste being due to the presence of 
decaying fish or eels in the pipes is, however, set at rest by 
the consideration that the ofi'ensive water was remarked at 
the Brookline reservoir and at Lake Cochituate, where, with 
every opportunity for careful observation, no dead fish or 
eels have been found. 

The water within the gate house, at the entrance to the 
aqueduct, was less offensive than that observed in the City. 
It was drawn from several feet below the surface of the 
Lake. That at the surface in the open Lake, was tasteless. 
From depths of 20, 30,*40 and 50 feet, the water had the 

34 WATER. [Feb. 

cucumber taste, but not so marked as that in Boston, These 
samples from various depths were found to have identically 
the same quantity of foreign matter, and to differ but little 
from the water in Boston of the same and previous dates, as 
the following determinations show : — 

In 100,000 parts. 
Cochituate in Boston in Sept., 1848, - 5.30 
Another locality, ----- 5.30 

Nov. 16, 1854, - 5.26 

Nov. 27, - 5.25 

Cochituate Lake, Nov. 24, 20 ft. below, - 5.50 

30 - 5.50 

40 - 5.50 

50 at bottom, 5.50 

The water being pure at the top and offensive below, sug- 
gested that the source of the impurity might be at the bot- 
tom of the Lake. It is not unusual for accumulations of 
organic matter overflowed by water, to undergo fermentation 
imparting bad flavor to the water, injurious to the fish inhab- 
iting it, and, from its exhalations, an annoyance to residents 
in the neighborhood. The part of Lake Cochituate lying 
nearest the junction of the Saxonville branch with the Wor- 
cester Railroad, and separated from the main body by a dam, 
passed through fermentations of quite an extensive charac- 
ter in the years 1852 and '53, accompanied by the evolution 
of much gaseous matter, and the destruction of great num- 
bers of fish — cart loads it is said. Such occurrences have 
been observed elsewhere, but the circumstances under which 
they have taken place, are well defined. There must first of 
all be organic matter in quantity to undergo the change, and 
secondly there must be elevation of temperature, with the 
supply and discharge of water nearly or quite cut off. It 
might happen where lo^v meadow land or peat is sub- 
merged to but moderate depth, the water permitted to stand 
without change and lessened by prolonged evaporation. 

But this phenomenon would occur to the same body of 
water but once or twice, and the accumulation of organic 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 35 

matter having been destroyed by fermentation, the water 
would be no longer affected by changes at the bottom. 

Now Cochituate Lake is not of recent formation. It is 
surrounded for the most part by gravel banks instead of 
meadows and marshes. It loses somewhat by evaporation, 
yet the total loss in a summer is but a small part of the^ 
whole quantity present at any one time. It is at low water 
mark in some places more than 60 feet deep ; and its depth 
is but inconsiderably lessened even by the draught by the 
city supply during the period of the year when the rain falls 
are least. It is obvious, therefore, 'that Cochituate Lake has 
not the requisite conditions for the production of impure 
Avater by changes in the organic matter at the bottom. 

It appears from representations made by the gate keeper, 
that in the first fortnight of October, the exhalations from the 
water in the neighborhood of the gate house, were extremely 
offensive. Before that time and later, as on the 24th of 
November, on the occasion of the visit of the undersigned, 
the atmosphere there and elsewhere about the Lake was 
untainted. Thus from about the end of September to the 
middle of October an unusual instrumentality was operative, 
affecting the quality of the water at its entrance to the 

As the Brooklyn reservoir contains about one hundred and 
twenty millions* of gallons of water, and as the daily con- 
sumption is about eight and a half millions,! not far from a 
fortnight would elapse between the entrance of bad water at 
the Cochituate gate house and its first appearance in the City. 

The peculiar taste was, as already mentioned, first noticed 
in Boston about the middle of October. 

Since the impure water could not have been derived from 
the bottom of the Lake, it must have been supplied to the 
surface through some of its tributaries. The character of 
these tributaries will be better appreciated from a considera- 
tion of the topography of the basin which is drained for the 
supply of the Lake. This basin contains 12,077 acres, lying 

* 1193583,960. i In October of 1853 it was 8,r>l 2^300. 

36 WATER. [Feb. 

about equally north and south of the Worcester Railroad. It 
supplies to Lake Cochituate two kinds of water ; one through 
springs, and the other by surface drainage, as a glance at the 
subjoined determinations will show. 

Cochituate water, before the water works were commenced 
in 1845, contained of foreign matter in 100,000 parts, 3.17* 

Dug Pond, Nov. 24th, 1854, - - " " 4.26 

Cochituate Lake, _ - _ " " 5.50 

Pond South of Worcester Railroad, . « " 7.50 

Marsh ground in the neighborhood of 
the Framingham station, - - - " " 17.00 

As nearly or quite one-half of all the water supplied to 
Lake Cochituate flows through the pond south of the Wor- 
cester Railroad, and as the resultant mixture of this with 
the supplies from other sources has a smaller measure of 
foreign matter, it follows that the other sources are purer. 
They are springs indeed, the waters of which have been 
purified by filtration through the soil. Cochituate Lake is, 
as has been aheady remarked, like Dug Pond, for the most 
part surrounded by gravelly banks, while the pond south of 
the Worcester Railroad communicates directly with an ex- 
tensive area of peat, bog, marsh and meadow land, all the 
surface drainage of which finds its way through this pond 
to the Lake. 

Bearing these data in mind, to wit, that about one-half of 
the water supplied to Lake Cochituate flows through the pond 
south of the Worcester Railroad, that this, with the exception 
of that derived from Dug Pond, is for the most part surface 
drainage, and that the other half is, in general terms, spring 
water, let us glance at the meteorological and other condi- 
tions of the region about the Lake during the past season. 

The quantity of rain that fell in last July and August was 
unusually small. The average for these tv/o months during 
the eleven years ending 1851, was 

At Cambridge, - - - - 7.29 inches. 
Waltham, - . - - 7.09 " 

*'SiIlimat), Jr. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.~No. 9. 37 

At Boston, - - - - 6.25 inches. 

Lowell, - - . . 7.76 " 

Average, - - - - 7.09 " 

Taking this average as the quantity that probably fell at 
Lake Cochitnate, we have from 1840 to 1851, 7.09 inches. 
It was observed to be for 1852, - 10.53 " 
« -" " 1853, - 10.04 " 

Average for the last two years, - 10.26 " 

"■ " " thirteen " - 8.15 " 

From July 1st to August 28th, of 1854, the total quantity of 
rain that fell was 2.60 inches, of which there fell before July 
17th, l.SO inches, leaving only .80 for the latter half of July 
and nearly the whole of August. 

This quantity is greatly less than the evaporation during 
the two warmest months in the year, from the marsh and 
. meadow land south of the Worcester Railroad. As a conse- 
quence, the smaller bodies of water distributed over this area 
would cease to discharge, and, with the elevated temperature, 
there would be, in such grounds, extraordinary development 
of the microscopic organisms that flourish in stagnant pools, 
and which are always found, more or less, in Cochituate 
water. With the prolonged drought, these minute forms, 
for the most part vegetable, would die and decay. 

Another effect of the prolonged drought would be, the 
ascent by capillary action of soluble matters, which previous 
decay had formed, and which had settled into the soil. 

Still another effect of the extreme evaporation and drying 
of the porous muck and peat-like soil, would be, its prepara- 
tion for condensing any effluvia arising from the decaying 
matter about. 

To some extent it may be conceived that an occasional fish 
that had followed a rivulet too far into the marshes and 
meadows, was cut ofl" from return by the gradual drying up 
of the water, and so fell to decay. 

No dead fish have, however, been observed, and the latter 
effect may be regarded as of inconsiderable importance. 

The material that would be found ready for solution by 
occasional rain-falls would be the juices or extracts of dead 

38 WATEE. [Feb. 

and decaying microscopic organisms, in more or less advanced 
stages of decomposition. Some would be highly volatile, 
others less so, and others not at all, at ordinary tempera- 

Now it appears from information obtained at the water 
office, that an order was given on the 16th of August to raise 
the dam, at the outlet of the pond south of the Worcester 
Railroad, and from about the 20th of August no water was 
permitted to escape from the pond by the way of Cochitnate 
Lake until September 27th, when the extreme depression of 
Cocnituate Lake, in consequence of the long continued 
drought, made it necessary to let in the reserved water of 
Dug Pond. 

In the last days of August and the first fortnight of Sep- 
tember, there fell 3.60 inches of rain. All the washings of 
this body of water were stored up in the pond to be carried 
forward with the contribution from Dug Pond. 

Thus, during all this period of a month and a half, it 
appears that all the extracts of all the accumulations of dead 
and decaying microscopic vegetation of a remarkable season, 
and developed under circumstances peculiarly favorable to 
the extraordinary production of this department of organic 
life, spread over an area of several hundred if not more than 
a thousand acres, were withheld from going forward to min- 
gle with the purer waters of the Lake. 

The water that had thus fallen upon an extended warm 
land surface and had been drained into a shallow pond easily 
heated by the sun, was naturally of a less specific gravity 
than the main body of Cochituate Lake. Accordingly, as it 
entered the Lake, instead of displacing the water or driving 
it forward, it flowed on the top, and though mingling to some 
extent with the water below, the surface water was, with all 
its offensive attributes, pretty nearly as it passed the Wor- 
cester Railroad. 

At this time, (the end of September) the unpleasant odor 
began to be observed at the Gate House at the entrance to 
the aqueduct, and soon after, the water yielding it must have 
spread over a great portion of the Lake. The water charged 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 39 

with it was at this time on its way to the Brookline Reser- 
voir, and a little more than a fortnight later it appeared in 

On the mornings of November 6th and 7th, the temperature 
of the air at the Gate House was 12° F. ; on the 5th it was 
at the same hour 23°, and on the Sth 41°. The temperature 
of the water below was 53°. There had been ice formed in 
all very shallow places, and the water at the surface of the 
Lake must have experienced a marked reduction of tempera- 
ture. As a natural consequence the surface water sunk, and 
the warmer water rose to take its place. -On its way down 
it mingled more or less with all the water of the Lake, so 
that on November 24th the bad tasting water was found at 
all depths from 10 to 50 feet. All water flowing from the 
shallow meadow south of the Worcester Railroad, and the 
low lands drained into it, were of course colder after the 7th 
of November, and as they flowed in constant stream upon 
Cochituate Lake, they sunk to the bottom, forcing the pure 
water up. The total fall of rain in November, from the 1st 
to the 20th, amounting to 6.30 inches, had, with the gradual 
decline of the temperature of the air, brought the temperature 
of the bottom of the Lake, on November 24th, down to 43°, 
while at the surface it was 44°. At this date the taste of the 
water flowing in under the Worcester Railroad was astrin- 
gent, but had little or no trace of the cucumber taste. 

As the water on the 24th November at the surface of the 
Lake near the Gate House was sweet, and at 20 feet below 
was much less ofl'ensive than that in Boston, and as it takes 
about 15 days for water to come from the Lake to the City, 
it may be expected that about the 10th of this month the 
water in the City will begin decidedly to improve, and soon 
after will have regained its remarkably pure taste. 

The bodies of offensive taste and smell are volatile. By 
passing a few gallons of water through a tube containing 
loose cotton, the matter ordinarily separated by a common 
filter may be caught, and the cotton, first absorbing, will 
after impart the offensive effluvium, and greatly facilitate the 

40 WATER. ^ [Feb. 

perception of the odor. By corking the tube the odor may 
be preserved upon the cotton for days. 

Water collected on the 24th of November from a depth of 
30 feet in Cochituate Lake, and kept in a nearly filled and 
corked jug, on opening some hours after, gave in the first 
draught the disagreeable flavor; a short time after, it had 
nearly lost it. The volatile matter had risen from the whole 
body of water to its surface in the neck. This fact will 
explain the comparative exemption from bad taste of the 
water of particular localities, and the unequal offensiveness 
of the water in other parts of the City. Where the service 
pipe leads from the end of a descending branch, the flavor 
will tend to rise to the more elevated portions near the main, 
and if but little is drawn, the water will be less impure. Or 
where there is an ascending branch, the flavor might accu- 
mulate near the more elevated extreme, and the intensity of 
the off'ensiveness be modified by the frequency of use and 
quantity of water discharged. Confined in the pipes, there 
is no opportunity for the volatile bodies to escape. Drawn 
and permitted to stand a few hours, or boiled for a few 
minutes, the water loses its unpleasant flavor. Powdered 
charcoal recently ignited will condense the taste and odor in 
its pores. A pint of such charcoal so purified 31 gallons 
of water passed from a Cochituate service pipe directly 
through it, that in the last glass drawn there was scarcely a 
trace of unpleasant taste. It also retained the microscopic 
vegetable forms which appear in the first dash of water after 
reversing a filter, and from which ether extracts the green 
coloring matter Chlorophyl. This body consists, as already 
remarked, in part of wax, which, separated from ether, floats 
upon water, is yielding to the touch, may be converted into 
a kind of soap by alkali, and is the only oily substance that 
the undersigned has been able to find in the water. In con- 
clusion : 

The recent peculiar taste of the Cochituate water is, in 
the judgment of the undersigned, due chii^fly to extracts 
more or less volatile from the decaying minute aquatic organ- 
isms, for the most part vegetable, which, during the late 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 41 

prolonged drought, have been produced in extraordinary- 
quantity upon the low meadows, marshes, bog and peat lands 
which supply the surface drainage to Cochituate Lake. 

Respectfully submitted, 

Cambridge^ December 7, 1854. 

Note. Since the presentation of the above Report, some 
new facts have been elicited, bearing npon the origin of the 
recent peculiar taste of the Cochituate water, which it is 
desirable permanently to record. 

A visit has been made to two ponds in the neighborhood 
of Haverhill, the waters of which, according to Dr. Nichols, 
have occasionally suffered deterioration. From one of them, 
Round Pond, the village aqueduct is supplied. During the 
last few months it has been noticed that the taste of Co- 
chituate water in Boston, and that of Round Pond water in 
Haverhill, have been quite alike. To some the water had a 
fishy taste, to others, the taste of cucumbers. At the imme- 
diate surface where the ice had been removed, the water was 
without taste. At a depth of but two or three inches, how- 
ever, the peculiar taste was distinctly perceptible. It pre- 
vailed at all depths, and more or less in all parts of the pond, 
except about the inlet, where the water was tasteless. The 
varying ofFensiveness of the taste in some parts of the cir- 
culation, in the village, and its total absence in others, have 
been noticed as they have in Boston, and are due to the 
same causes. 

Mud procured from the bottom of Round Pond, and also 
from Great Pond, the other sheet of water visited, proved on 
chemical and microscopical examination to be like that from 

42 * WATER. [Feb. 

Lake Cochituate, Dug Pond, and the aqueduct between 
Brookline and the gate house. It presented many of the 
forms figured in the Report of the Water Board for 1852. 

With the exception of a small area of bog land on either 
side of the little inlet, the shores of Round Pond are gravelly 
knolls. No dead fish or eels have been seen within or about 
the pond during the past season, nor during or immediately 
preceding periods, when in former years, the same taste has 
prevailed ; but the fish have been remarked to be more slug- 
gish in their movements, just before than just after the prev- 
alence of the unusual taste. 

Dr. Nichols has suggested that the fish, by reason of the 
prolonged drought and suspended supply of fresh aerated 
water, sickened, and on the return of abundant rains, cast off 
simultaneously and in unusual quantity their slimy coats, 
which dissolved in the water and imparted to it the offensive 
flavor. This view is strengthened by the fact that a filter 
through which five hundred gallons of the water were 
passed, yielded an odor strongly resembling that of recently 
caught fresh fish. The filter yielded also on rinsing, beside 
vegetable forms, a large number of crustaceans, similar to 
those in the Cochituate, which have been examined by Dr. 
Bacon and Dr. Hayes, and in which, with the aid of a 
microscope, it was not difficult to see oil globules. 

The water from Great Pond, taken from various depths, 
possessed very faintly the taste of that from Round Pond. 
Samples from both ponds became tasteless after a few hours 

Jamaica Pond, which is said for many years to have had 
occasionally to a slight extent the same taste as the Cochitu- 
ate, and for short periods, in some portions, during the last 
Autumn, was also visited. There was a taste astringent and 
a little peculiar, but not like that of the Cochituate. That 
at the surface and at various depths to forty feet, were alike 
in this respect. 

Several wells in the neighborhood of Boston, have, it is 
said, been similarly affected during the months of September 
and October, and occasionally for short periods in past years. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 43 

Filters have been examined which have from time to time 
strained various quantities of Cochituate water, from fifty 
gallons to 36 barrels. In the rinsings of the first filters, no 
living crustaceans were seen, and with the exception of a few 
fragments of the legs of crustaceans and insects, and a very 
few inferior animal forms, the whole deposit was vegetable. 
In the rinsings of the later filters, the proportion of minute 
animal forms had increased, and still later, numerous crusta- 
ceans were visible. From the size or inclination of neigh- 
boring mains, or perhaps from the comparative quiet of the 
water, there would seem to be more animal forms at some 
points in the circulation than at others. 

One of the first deposits, after being rinsed from the filter, 
was permitted to settle, and the water above poured off. It 
had the offensive taste of the Cochituate. The deposit, with 
a little distilled water, was then bottled and corked up, and 
is still preserved. Upon opening the bottle, from time to 
time, it continued to exhale the odor, and the water to pos- 
sess the taste of cucumbers — such a taste as might have been 
expected from an infusion of minute algae. The water 
poured off from the deposit soon recovered its purity. 

The deposit of a later date on a filter which had strained 
36 barrels of water, and which contained, as was estimated, 
about one-tenth of animal forms, was bottled and corked up 
with a quantity of distilled water, and set aside. After a few 
days, on opening, it yielded an offensive odor — not of fish or 
cucumbers, but rather of putrefactive fermentation. The 
distilled water was renewed every three or four days for 
more than a month, and yet it continued to exhale the offen- 
sive odor. This deposit, it will be remarked, was all the 
insoluble organic matter of 36 barrels of water, covered by 
not more than half a pint of distilled water. It would prob- 
ably in its dry state, not amount to more than two thimbles 

The presence of oil globules in some of the slender animal 
forms, the ready extraction of them by ether, and their 
saponification, coupled with the peculiar odor which attends 
the decay of these creatures, has been conceived to lend 

44 WATEE. [Feb. 

support to the idea that the odor was due to oil, and the oil 
to dead fish, upon which these minute animals have fed. 

The presence of the taste at the Lake relieved the sus- 
picion that dead fish or eels were lodged in the pipes. The 
absence of dead fish from the borders of the Lake, has been 
remarked by persons whose duties gave them frequent oppor- 
tunities for observation. It is difficult to conceive how 
sufficient numbers of dead fish to impregnate all parts of 
Cochituate Lake, could be present in the water, and yet no 
fragments of them anywhere be found. But whatever this 
difficulty may be, there is another arising out of the above 
view, of greater moment. Oil, mingled with water by agita- 
tion, upon coming to rest, rises to the surface. Now if the 
taste at the Lake were due to fish oil, the surface water 
should have been offensive in the last degree, if not coated 
with a thin film of oil : whereas, in fact, the surface water 
has been tasteless, no oil has been observed upon it, and only 
the water below has been characterized by the peculiar flavor. 

The facts that have been observed since the middle of 
December, would seem to find full explanation in the consid- 
eration that the crustaceans feeding upon inferior forms of 
life, (not dead fish) have merely gathered into lesser compass 
portions of the matter which the drought of the past season 
has developed. When they die and decay, an unusual meas- 
ure of the source of unpleasant flavor is concentrated in their 

The following determinations may be of value for future 

Caught on a filter, Dec. 21, from 24 barrels 
of Cochituate water — 

Dried at 212° Fah., 0.3320 grammes. 
Deposit in the aqueduct above the Brook- 
line Reservoir, exceedingly offensive for a 
few days, and then becoming tasteless — 

Dried at 212° Fah., 0.8515 grammes. 
Gave Organic, 0.1215 " 

Inorganic, 0.7300 " 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 45 

Deposit from bottom of Cochituate Lake, 
at a depth of 55 feet — 

Dried at 212° Fah., 0.2850 gr. 
Gave Organic, 0.0635 " 

Inorganic, 0.2215 " 

Deposit from bottom of Round Pond, Ha- 
verhill — 

Dried at 212° Fah., 0.2655 gr. 
Gave Organic, 0.0935 " 

Inorganic, 0.1720 " 

Aqueduct water at Haverhill — 

400cc. gave Residue, 0.0145 gr. 

Organic, 0.0070 " 

Inorganic, 0.0080 " 

Great Pond water, 15 ft. below surface — 

400cc. gave Residue, 0.0155 gr. 
Organic, 0.0075 " 
Inorganic, 0.0080 " 

Cochituate Lake, Dec. 21 — 

400cc. gave Residue, 0.0170 gr. 
Organic, 0090 " 
Inorganic, 0.0080 " 


32 Somerset street, 
Boston, December 6th, 1854. 

Thomas Wetmore, Esq., 

President of the Cochituate Water Board. 

Dear Sir : — During the latter part of the month of Octo- 
ber last, a peculiar flavor of an unpleasant nature was per- 
ceived in the Cochituate water delivered by aqueducts in the 
City of Boston, and an investigation was ordered by you for 
the discovery of the nature and causes of this change in the 
taste of the water. 

On the 18th and 20th of November I was called upon by 
E. S. Chesbrough, Esq., the City Engineer, who sent me 
two demijohns of water marked " Nos. 2 and 4," with a 
request that I should make chemical analysis of their con- 
tents. The quantity of water in each demijohn was two 

I was not informed of the source from which the waters 
were taken, since it was desirable to obtain my independent 
testimony without any possible bias being suspected by any 

Chemical analysis of water marked " No. 2." 

The taste of this water was unobjectionable, and was like 
that of Cochituate water when not regarded as impure. 
Many persons tasted it and found no unpleasant flavor or 
smell in it. 

The water was thoroughly shaken up in the demijohn and 
one imperial gallon was measured out for analysis. This 
was evaporated at a gentle heat to small bulk in a porcelain 
basin, and then the evaporation was completed in a platinum 
capsule over boiling water. The residual matter obtained 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 47 

was dried at a temperature of 212° F. and weighed 3.18 
grains. The matter destructible by heat was then burned 
off, and gave only the odor of burning peat without any 
smell of burning animal matter. The loss by combustion 
was 1.3 grains, which is that of the vegetable matter. 

The mineral substances remaining weighed 1.88 grains. 

On analysis of these matters I found them to contain silica, 
alumina, oxide of iron, lime, traces of magnesia, soda, chlorine, 
sulphuric acid, and traces of phosphoric acid. 

As they existed in the water these matters were chiefly 

Crenate of lime and crenate of iron. - 

Sulphate of lime traces. 

Sulphate of soda. 

Chloride of sodium. 

Chloride of magnesium. 

The organic matter was examined in a separate portion of 
the water, and found to be chiefly crenic acid, without any 
apocrenic acid. No oily or animal matters were found, nor 
was the chlorophyle and wax subsequently discovered by me 
in other samples of water sought for in this water, it having 
all been used up in the above researches. 

Water marked " No. 4." 

The origin of this water was not made known to me. 

No unpleasant taste or smell could be discovered in it by 
me or by other persons whom I requested to taste it. 

One imperial gallon, equal to 70,000 grains, of this water 
was taken for analysis, and evaporated to small bulk in a 
porcelain bowl, and the evaporation was completed by a 
steam heat at 212° in a platinum capsule. The residual 
matter obtained weighed 3.4 grains, of which 1.5 grains is 
vegetable matter, and 1.9 grains mineral matters, consisting 
of silicia, alumina, oxide of iron, lime, traces of magnesia, 
chlorine and sulphuric acid. Their proportions were 
Silicia and sulphate of lime, - - 0.30 

Oxide of iron and alumina, - - - 1.00 

Lime, 0.34 

Other matters not weighed, - - - 0.26 


48 * WATER. [Feb. 

The principal organic acid is the crenic, derived from the 
decay of vegetable matters under water. ]\o odor of animal 
matter could be discovered by burning the dry residue ob- 
tained by evaporation of the Y^^ater. 

After I had completed these analyses, I was invited to 
accompany you with Mr. Chesbrough and Prof. E. N. Hors- 
ford, on a visit to Cochituate lake and its environs, to exam- 
ine the lake and the water shed into it, for the purpose of 
discovering, if possible, the origin of the foreign matters 
complained of in the water. 

We visited all parts of the lake, tasted of the water at 
every tributary lake and stream, and that drawn by a hose 
from various depths in the lake. We found the surface water 
free from any unpleasant taste, it being rain water that had 
fallen, and which had not then commingled with the lake 
water, on which it rested. 

Water drawn from a lower depth had that peculiar flavor 
which we find in the aqueduct water in Boston, and this 
taste was strongest at the depth of from 19 to 39 feet from 
the surface. We also perceived it quite strong in the water 
at the gate house, where a stratum 8 feet from the surface 
enters the conduit. 

We all agreed in opinion that the taste resembled that of 
water in which cucumbers had been soaked. We filled 
several demijohns with the water, drawn from various depths 
of from 19 to 49 feet, samples being taken from every 10 
feet in depth by means of a pump and hose attached to a 
sounding line and lead. These samples of one gallon each, 
were divided between Prof. Horsford and myself by your 

The temperature of the water at the gate house was 431", 
that of the air being 53°. At the bottom of the lake the 
thermometer stood at 44°, hence the water at the bottom of 
the lake is a little warmer than that of the surface. The 
records of the superintendent of the lake show, that during 
the month of July last the temperature of the water was in 
the gate house 73° F. 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 49 

Having obtained our samples of the lake water, we next 
examined the stream from the Cranberry meadow, and found 
it tasted like rain water, and had no peculiar taste like that 
of the deep water of the lake. This meadow is flowed, and 
there are an abundance of fishes living in its waters ; and we 
learned from a person living near the spot, that no dead fish 
had been seen on its shores this year, though there were 
great numbers of them thrown upon its shores year before 

Dug Pond has very pure and transparent water, quite free 
from any taste of foreign matters. This water discharges 
into Cochituate Lake through Fiske's meadow, a peat bog, 
and in its course it becomes highly colored by a solution of 
peat, which gives it an amber tint, but it has no unpleasant 
taste. The water falls over a dam of a few feet in height, 
and the engineer, on gauging the water, estimates nine mil- 
lion gallons per day as the discharge of this water into Co- 
chituate Lake. 

We rode all around the country that is drained into 
Cochituate Lake, and tasted of every streamlet or collection 
of water, and did not observe in any of those waters that 
peculiar flavor which we had found in the deep water of 
Lake Cochituate. It would seem, therefore, that either the 
bad tasting stratum of water had entered the lake some time 
since, or that it has derived its peculiar taste from ferment- 
ing vegetable matters at its bottom. 

If the bottom water had become charged with a vegetable 
infusion during the heat of summer and autumn, it could not 
rise to the surface until the top water was cooled down to 
such a degree as to render it denser than the water below, so 
as to descend and displace it. 

The maximum density of water is at 39.2° F., while the 
water at the gate-house has been at 78° in July and August, 
and is now at the bottom 44°. It is evident that if the sur- 
face water during cold nights should descend to 39.2° that it 
would descend and displace the lower strata of water, and 
cause them to rise. This would take place at less differences 
of temperature at slower rates, exactly proportioned to the 




differences of temperature, provicied the upper strata should 
be coldest ; but the reverse could not take place, hence warm 
water does not descend to displace cold water, unless the 
temperature of the lower water should be considerable below 
39.2° when it would be lighter, as may be seen from the 
following table, extracted from Berzelius's Traite de Chimie, 
Vol. 1st, p. 365. 

Table of the density and volume of water, unity being 
taken at the temperature of the greatest density of water, 
4° 0.=39.2 F. 


Specific Gravity. 


0.9998918 - 



0.9999382 - 



0.9999717 - 



0.9999920 - 






0.9999950 - 



0.9999772 - 



0.9999472 - 



0.9999044 - 



0.9998497 - 



0.9997825 - 



0.9997030 - 



0.9996117 - 



0.9995080 - 



0.9993922 - 



0.9992647 - 



0.9991260 - 



0.9989752 - 



0.9988125 - 



0.99.S6387 - 



0.9984534 - 



0.9982570 - 



0.9980489 - 



0.9978300 - 



0.9976000 - 



0.9973587 - 



0.9971070 - 



0.9968439 - 



0.9965704 - 



0.9962864 - 



0.9959917 - 


1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 51 

I have copied the degrees as given centigrade, in order to 
avoid the fractions which would result from the reduction of 
them to the Fahrenheit scale. 

Those who wish to convert any of the degrees centigrade 
to Fahrenheit, have only to multiply the centigrade degrees 
by 9j divide the product by 5, and add 32°. 

43° F. is equal to 6.11° centigrade. 
44° " 6.67° « 

73° " 22.78° " 

By comparing these degrees with the table above given 
the relative specific gravity of water at these temperatures 
will be seen, and may be compared with that at 4° C. or 
39.2° F, as unity. This table may be useful to engineers of 
water works, and therefore I recommend its publication 
in the Water Report. 

It is well known that the bad taste of Gochituate Lake 
water came on soon after the sudden cold weather of the 
middle and latter part of the month of October, and perhaps 
this sudden change of temperature may account for the 
rising of the lower strata of water, so as to cause them to run 
into the conduits. 

Again, it has been supposed that the sudden fall of the forest 
leaves, full of their juices at the time, and charged with green 
chlorophyle may account for the singular fact of the appear- 
ance of this vegetable coloring matter in the water of the 
lake, for the heavy rains that fell soon after the fall of the 
leaves, would wash much of this matter (set free by fermen- 
tation,) into the Lake. It is also highly probable, that the 
wax and vegetable oil came from fermenting foliage. 

The mucilaginous matters in leaves of trees undergoes a 
rapid fermentation when kept moist, and gives rise to various 
disagreeable products which diifer with the nature of the 

It is probable therefore, that we may be able to trace the 
peculiar taste of Gochituate water to some such source. 

52 WATER. [Feb. 

Chemical analysis of Water taken from Cochituate Lake, 
November 24,th, 1854. Water drawn 19 feet below the 
surface of the Lake. 

It has the flavor of water in which cucumbers have been 
soaked, but has not any perceptible odor. 

One imperial gallon, equal to 70,000 grains weight, evapo- 
rated carefully to small bulk by a moderate heat, and the 
evaporation completed in a platinum capsule at 212° left 
3.223 grains of brown matter, which adheres to the platinum. 

This digested in ether, and again dried to 212 lost 0.093 
grains. The ether evaporated in a small capsule, left a rim 
of green matter, identical with that which by other experi- 
ments on the aqueduct water, I have previously proved to be 
chlorophyle and wax with a little fixed oil. 

The remaining organic matter, which was insoluble in 
ether, I burned off, and found to amount to 1.430 grains, and 
the mineral matters left amounted to 1.800 grains. The 
results were : — 

Chlorophyle wax and oil, - - - 0.093 
Vegetable matters insoluble in ether, - 1.430 
Mineral matters, _ _ _ _ 1,800 

Whole contents of one gallon, 3.323 

The water drawn from a depth of 49 feet, which is about 
10 feet from the bottom of the Lake opposite the gate house, 
was found to give but 3.2 grains of solid matter per imperial 
gallon, and was in all respects like that obtained at the depth 
of 39 feet, and does not essentially differ from that of 19 feet 
depth in the quantity of foreign matters contained in it, 
though the lower water appeared at the time it was drawn to 
be a little more charged with the cucumber taste. 

This flavor I find to be extremely evanescent, for it dis- 
appears in three or four days wholly from the water, even 
when it is closely corked up in demijohns and kept in a cool 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— ISlo. 9. 53 

So it was found that when we had put up demijohns of 
the aqeduct water, while it tasted most strongly, and after a 
few days uncorked tnem to taste the water or to submit the 
samples to chemical examination, the peculiar flavor would 
be entirely gone, and the water was found to be in every 
respect quite sweet and good. The same fact has been 
noticed by numerous persons in this City, and is well known 
at the water board office, where samples of the worst tasting 
water became quite good in less than a week after they were 
left at the office by complainants. This I have verified by 
numerous experiments, and by inquiry of others. Thus, 
when the water is contained in a tank in the upper part of a 
house, it loses it disagreeable flavor, while that drawn directly 
from the pipes has in it a marked degree. 

So we found when we visited the dead ends of the water 
pipes, where but little water was drawn, that no unpleasant 
taste had ever been perceived by those using it. The water 
had undergone the same changes in the iron pipes which we 
had noticed in that we had kept in demijohns. This we 
observed most remarkably in a dead end of the pipe on the 
mill-dam, while we found the water at the reservoir possess- 
ing the cucumber flavor. 

The " flushing off" of the pipes has, as I learn, in most 
every case augmented the complaints against the water, and 
thus still farther proved our opinion to be correct, that the 
impurities are in the Lake itself, and not in the pipes. 

In stating this opinion, I would not wish to be understood 
as denying that, in some particular cases, there may have 
been found fishes in the distribution pipes. Their occasional 
occurrence is fortuitous, and cannot always be entirely 
avoided, but what I wish to say is that the general bad taste 
in the water is not derived from fishes, nor from any animal 
matter whatever in the water, or in the main pipes of the 

The matters present are all of a vegetable origin, and the 
substance giving the peculiar bad flavor is so readily decom- 
posable, as to undergo entire decomposition, so as to disap- 
pear in a very short time. I therefore confidently predict 

54 WATER. [Feb. 

the speedy return of Cochituate Lake to its accustomed 

Perhaps the sealing up of the Lake by ice, which will soon 
form, will aid in changing the character of the water, since 
we have observed that the water closed up in our jars, and 
in water pipes and in tanks, becomes speedily pure. 

I may also call your attention to the important fact that 
since the aqueduct was laid Cochituate water has been 
gradually improving, and now does not contain but little 
more than half as much solid matter per gallon as it did in 
1845. I refer to my analyses published by the water Com- 
missioners of that year in proof of this point, and beg leave 
here to append an extract from that report :- 

Extract from Dr. C. T. Jackso7i^s Report of Analysis of 
Water of Long Pond, Natick. 

Boston, February 1st, 1855. 
" Messrs. Wm. Parker, James Hayward, and T. B. Curtis. 

Gentlemen : 

At your request I visited Long Pond, in Natick, on 
Tuesday last, and obtained specimens of the water from each 
of the three divisions of that pond, and have since made a 
chemical analysis of each sample, the results of which I now 

Specimen No. 1 was taken thirty rods from the shore, and 
opposite the place where, according to the plan given me by 
by Mr, James F. Baldwin, the proposed aqueduct is to com- 

No. 2 was taken near the middle of the central division of 
the pond, nearly opposite the house of Widow Coggins, and 
four hundred paces from the shore. 

No. 3 was taken from near the middle of the upper division 
of the pond, opposite the house of Mr. Morse, and about four 
hundred yards from the shore. 

The water was obtained by cutting holes through about 
ten inches of ice, and was drawn up by means of a tin 
bucket, and poured into clean glass jars and demijohns, 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 55 

which were closely stopped, and brought to my laboratory in 
Boston for analysis. 

Chemical Analysis of the Water of Long Pond. 

One imperial English gallon, equal to 70,000 grains of 
distilled water at 60° F., or to 277.274 cubic inches in bulk, 
of each sample, yield the following amounts of vegetable and 
mineral matters, when evaporated to entire dryness, and on 
separation of the ingredients. 

Long Pond Water No. 1 [Loioer Pond). 

Vegetable matter destructible by heat, 2.4 grains. 

Mineral matter (earths and salts), 3.6 " 

Whole contents of one gallon of the water, 6.0 " 

Long Pond Water No. 2 {Middle Pond). 

Vegetable matter destructible by heat, 1.64 grains. 

Mineral matter (earths and salts), 3.88 " 

Whole contents of one gallon of the water, 5.52 " 

Lojig Pond Water No. 3 {Upper Pond'). 

Vegetable matter destructible by heat, 1.42 grains. 

Mineral matter (earths and salts), 2.90 " 

Whole contents of one gallon of the water, 4.32 " 

The vegetable matter consists of the usual organic acids 
of the soil, which are combined with the earthy bases, lime, 
magnesia, and with oxides of manganese and iron. These 
bases are separated by combustion of the vegetable acids, the 
lime and magnesia which they contained, being converted 
into carbonates of lime and magnesia. 

The salts are chloride of sodiam, or sea salts, sulphate of 
lime or gypsum, and sulphate of soda, which are found in the 
mineral matter, mixed with a minute quantity of clay and 
phosphate of lime, and the earthy bases derived from the 
combustion of the organic acid, compounds before noticed. 

56 WATER. [Feb. 

The foreign matters in this water are in such small pro- 
portions, as in no way to impair its healthfulness as a drink, 
nor will they prove injurious in washing clothing. 

It is somewhat remarkable that the water of the upper di- 
vision of the pond should prove the purest, considering the 
fact of its overflowing a small peatbog or cranberry meadow, 
daring this season of the year. This must result from the 
influx of purer water from a neighboring pond, which empties 
into Long Pond, by a small stream, traversing the meadow." 

At the suggestion of friends I made a chemical examina- 
tion of the water from my aqueduct, during the period when 
the water had the strongest flavor, and directed my researches 
particularly toward the discovery of animal oils in the water. 

I prepared a bone black filter expressly for the purpose of 
collecting any oleagenous matters that might be in the water, 
and allowed the water from my aqueduct to trickle through 
this filter continually in rapid drops for 24 hours. 

I then took the bone black, and having dried it at a very 
moderate heat, subjected it to the action of ether. I then 
filtered ofl" the ether, and evaporated it in a current of warm 
air to dryness. A yellow substance was obtained, which 
was fluid while warm, and which dried on the sides of the 
vessel. It was repeatedly dissolved in ether and examined. 
It rendered a piece of unsized paper translucent, and acted 
like a mixture of wax and oil. It did not saponify with a 
strong solution of carbonate of soda, though long boiled with 
it, but floated on the surface of the hot solution, and separ- 
ated as it cooled in a flake or floating crust. It was mostly 
soluble in alcohol, and the alcohol left no oil globules. 
Boiled with caustic potash, it saponified like wax. It had 
none of the properties of fish oil, and no odor even when 
acted upon by caustic potash, and by sulphuric acid. There 
may have been present some small proportion of fixed vege- 
table oil, but no animal oil could have existed in it. The 
softness and fusibility of the wax indicated the presence of a 
small proportion of a fixed oil. 

I had a felt filter bottom brought to me by Mr. Holbrook, 
the clerk of the Water Board. This filter had been used for 

1855.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 9. 57 

a week, the water having been run through it continually. 
I examined it by dissolving out the green matter with abso- 
lute alcohol, and proved it to be chlorophyle. I dissolved 
out next whatever was soluble in ether, and found wax and 
some chlorophyle. This filter furnished enough of the green 
matter to enable me to pass it through all the usual tests to 
prove its nature. Part of it was soluble in acetic acid, and 
part not, the matter left being vegetable wax. I could not 
find any oil in the matter taken up by ether from this filter. 

In connection with this subject, I made a series of direct 
experiments on the oil obtained by maceration of eels in 
water, examining both the fresh and the rancid oil, and the 
odors produced during their saponification, and that given 
out from them by the action of sulphuric acid, and am pre- 
pared to state confidently, that there is no such oil in any of the 
waters which have been examined by me for its presence. 
Fish oil is, when in water, quite permanent, and would be 
seen floating on the surface and would not disappear by 
being kept in a demijohn for a few days, therefore the mat- 
ter which gives the peculiar flavor to Cochituate water can- 
not be fish oil nor any animal oil. 

In order to compare the amount of matters contained in water 
drawn directly from the Lake, with that in the water from the 
aqueduct pipes in Boston, I took an imperial gallon of the 
water from my own aqueduct, and submitted it to analysis 
with the following results. 

Analysis of water from my aqueduct : — 

An imperial gallon of the water was evaporated to small 
bulk in porcelain, at a simmering heat, and the evaporation 
was completed in platinum at 212°. An oily film was seen 
on the surface of the water, but it was not in globules, but in 
a delicate film. Great care was used not to decompose this 
matter, and it was separated by ether and found to be chlo- 
rophyle and wax, not a globule of oil being separated from 
it when it was acted upon by alcohol and by acetic acid. 

This analysis was repeated the next day, to determine the 
proportions of matters soluble in ether, and those not soluble. 

58 WATER. [Feb. 

One gallon of the water gave 3.1 grains of solid matter, 
dry at 212^ 

Of this, there was soluble in ether, chlorophyle and 

wax, 0.09 

Vegetable matter not soluble in ether, (the usual 

vegetable matters of the water,) - - - 1.20 

Mineral matters, - - - - - - 1.81 


This analysis shows that there is very nearly the same 
amount of matters soluble in ether in the aqueduct at my 
house, as there is in the water obtained directly from the 
Lake, while the total solid contents of the water from the 
pipes is a trifle less. 

This analysis is important as showing the relations be- 
tween the water delivered in the City and that of the Lake; 

In conclusion, I would assure you and the citizens of Bos- 
ton, that there is good reason to believe that the unpleasant 
taste of Cochituate water is rapidly passing away,- from 
operations naturally taking place in the Lake, and that the 
water will probably soon be as good as ever. 

I regret as much as any one that we have not been able to 
settle all the interesting questions that have arisen as to the 
origin of the impurity complained of. Thus much we have 
done. We have proved that the peculiar taste of the water 
does not originate within the pipes, but exists at the fountain 
head, and that it is not the result of animal putrefaction, but 
of vegetable fermentation, and that there is nothing delete- 
rious in the water. These are some points gained. In time 
we may search out the other matters, should the evil ever 
again recur. 

I have the honor to be, with great respect, 
Your obedient servant, 


Assay er to the State of Massachusetts, and to the City of Boston