[April 7, 1914 – Auckland Star] (To the Editor.) Sir, — In an interview with your reporter on Thursday Dr. Makgill, the local health officer, appears to have worked himself into an angry, heated state at some remarks of mine re the above. If the reported interview is correct the statements made are all contrary to fact.
Your reporter is perfectly correct in saying that this abominable nuisance is a tender spot with the residents and ratepayers of the Mt. Albert district. The depot that was the subject of my remarks is situated a few chains from the main road, about half a mile on the Avondale side of the railway station. The formation of the country is scoria and broken volcanic rocks covered with a thin coating of soil. The underlying strata is composed of a great number of caverns, caves, and probably underground waterways. At a distance of about threequarters of a mile in a direct line from this depot is the source of the borough water supply, flowing out from between fissures in these volcanic rocks. The supply no doubt comes from probably as far as the Three Kings, in the Mt. Roskill district, for the same strata is met with for the entire distance.
Now, I ask any sane man if there is not a danger of contaminating the local supply of the district when hundreds of tons of this filth is dumped on almost bare rocks, full of fissures and crevices, leading right on the line of water supply. Dr. Makgill admits that he is entirelv responsible for establishing this depot. Notwithstanding that Mr. Bollard, the member for the district, informed me that he wrote to the Minister of Health protesting against this menace, in reply the Minister stated that the Department had the full consent of the local body concerned. I think, to say the least of this statement, that it ought to be explained.
Just before my meeting I was informed that another depot of the same kind was to be made at the back of Western Springs Road, and while speaking on the dangers of the present depot in operation my attention was again drawn to the possibility of this other depot. I admitted that I had no knowledge of it, but if such was the case the residents should rise in a body in protest. Now, it appears that the Department and the local bodies have very quietly joined together and are establishing a dump to send the night soil into the main sewers, tapping the latter for the purpose in the vicinity mentioned. This method cannot be as objectionable to the residents except to those in the immediate neighbourhood, as the present dangerous method.
Dr. Makgill has gone out of his way in accusing me of making political capital out of this very objectionable question. This, I think, is inexcusable in a gentleman of the standing in the community of Dr. Makgill and is entirely contrary to fact, which he could easily have ascertained from anyone who was at the meeting, or the report of your morning contemporary in which I repeatedly stated that I entirely exonerated the local body. I knew that they were helpless and that Dr. Makgill was entirely responsible. I have been repeatedly spoken to about the matter by residents, and I was expressly desired to enter a solid protest against the watershed of the Mt. Albert water supply being made a dumping ground for all the filth of the neighbouring boroughs.
His remarks which no doubt he thinks very clever re taking the stuff out to sea are just on par with his other statements.
If the nightsoil were so disposed of we would not be by any means the first to adopt that system and any means of disposing of it is better than dumping it at the back doors of the residents.
If Dr. Makgill is the gentleman I take him to be he will apologise for his unwarranted attack. _ I am etc.
NIGHTSOIL DEPOT AT WESTERN SPRINGS.
[May 5, 1916 – Auckand Star] (To the Editor.) Sir,—At a time like the present, when all the local bodies are straining their resources to the utmost to render sanitation as perfect as possible, it will come as a shock to your readers to know that the City Council has commenced the erection of a nightsoil depot near the pumping station at Western Springs, within a few feet of the residences of the waterworks officials, and less than 150 paces from the Great North Road. It seems incredible that while the Water Department, by means of large unproductive reserves, is endeavouring to ensure the purity of our water supply, another department is creating a menace, not only to a rapidly increasing local population, but possibly to all water consumers. It is useless to pretend that no odours are perceptible from these dumps, nor germs broadcasted.
Anyone can test this by a visit to that abomination, the Mt. Albert depot. Surrounding this place, especially in foggy weather, is an odour comparable only to a decomposing corpse, and at night when the floats are being emptied it is still worse. But the condition of things round this new dump will be still more intolerable, as the sealed pan system is in vogue in the city, and each pan has to be emptied and washed separately. Germs must escape and will naturally be attracted to the water the first thing. I have only touched on the sanitary side of the question, but the depot is on the area that the City Council is trying to lease for building purposes, and what it means to the residents and increasing traffic on the Great North Road can be well conjectured. In company with Mr. Jas. Mackey l have inspected the site, and the foregoing is absolutely correct.—l am, etc.,
G. J. HOWES