Hon. CHARLES STEWART (Minister of the Interior):
Mr. Speaker, some few days
ago I mentioned to the House that we had asked the American government to name a date on which'we should, concurrently, table
Chicago Drainage Canal
the despatches passing between this government and the government of the United States with reference to the Chicago drainage canal. They have agreed, and have named this as the day for the concurrent publication of the despatches.
In tabling this interchange of correspondence between the government of Canada and the government of the United States with respect to the matter of the withdrawal of water from the Great Lakes system by the Chicago sanitary district, a word of explanation is desirable.
The correspondence covers the permit of the 3rd of March, 1925, issued by the United States Secretary of War to the Chicago sanitary district, and the subsequent exchange of communications between the two governments up to the end of the year 1925.
In my statement to the House of Commons dated January 25 last, mention was made of the permit of the 3rd of March above referred to, authorizing the diversion of an amount of water expressed as not to exceed an annual average of 8,500 second feet through the main and auxiliary channels of the sanitary district. It is believed that the object of the United States Secretary of War in issuing this permit was to legalize under United States law, in so far as a permit of the Secretary of War could legalize it, the withdrawal of a sufficient amount of water to protect the health of the inhabitants of the sanitary district, while at the same time incorporating in the terms of the permit provision for a progressive curtailment of the total waters diverted from the Great Lakes by calling upon the Chicago sanitary district and the municipality of Chicago to install sewage disposal works, to construct a control gate in the Chicago river to control flood flows and to meter the domestic water supply.
While the foregoing outlines the general objectives of the Secretary of War's permit, it was, unfortunately, possible to place various interpretations upon the amount of water which could be diverted under its terms. This uncertainty arose from the phraseology of the permit itself, and from the physical conditions obtaining in respect to the actual diversion.
While all the water carried1 in the drainage canal is a diversion from the Great Lakes system, yet the waters in the canal are not all diverted in the same manner. Certain of the waters are diverted directly from lake Michigan by the main drainage canal and its auxiliaries. A second manner of diversion is through the disposal of the domestic water supply which is pumped from lake Michigan by the municipality of Chicago and as sewage passes into the drainage canal. The quantity
of water so diverted amounts to some 1,200 cubic feet per second. A third manner of diversion has been the reversal of the flow of the Chicago and Calumet rivers, whose waters in the natural state were discharged into lake Michigan, but are now diverted into the drainage canal. This last diversion ts estimated to be an annual average amount of 1,300 cubic feet per second.
With the above conditions obtaining it was, therefore, possible to interpret the permit of the 3rd of March as being applicable in any one of the three following manners:
1. That the amount of 8,500 cubic feet per second was inclusive of all waters diverted, regardless of the manner in which diversion was made;
2. That the amount of 8,500 cubic feet per second was inclusive of all waters diverted, with the exception of the water diverted for domestic purposes; that is, a total abstraction of 9,700 cubic feet per second was recognized;
3. That the amount of 8,500 cubic feet per second was applicable only to the direct diversion by the drainage canal and auxiliaries from lake Michigan and was exclusive of the water diverted for domestic water supply and by the reversal of the flow of the Chicago and Calumet rivers; that is, a total abstraction of 11,000 cubic feet per second was recognized.
With the object of securing from the United States government a specific interpretation of the terms and conditions of the permit, this government has exchanged notes with the government of the United States, as a result of which a clear-cut definition has been placed upon the permit. This exchange of correspondence is tabled herewith. The communications from the government of the United States now make it clear: First:
That the 8,500 cubic feet per second includes the reversed flow of the Chicago and Calumet rivers, but is exclusive of the 1,200 cubic feet per second pumped for domestic consumption by the city of Chicago; that is, a total abstraction of 9,700 cubic feet per second is recognized; Second: That this total diversion of 9,700 cubic feet per second authorized or recognized is practically the amount being actually diverted at present.
In further reference to the interpretation of the terms and conditions of the permit as disclosed in this correspondence, it might be stated that it is the understanding of the United States government that the gross flow in the canal will be rediiced by December 31st, 1929, to
8,000 cubic feet per second and probably to 6.700 cubic feet per second, and the United States government states further that the
FEBRUAiRY 24, 1926
sewage treatment programme of the sanitary district has been arranged so as to make it possible to effect a reduction to a gross flow of 4,167 cubic feet per second by the year 1935 or before. 1 might add that it is the intention of this government to follow closely the actual progress which is made in the construction works necessary to enable the proposed curtailment to be realized.
The papers brought down to-day cover the despatches exchanged during 1925 subsequent to the issuance of the permit of the 3rd of March. In January of the present year, as indicated in my statement to the House some weeks ago, the Canadian government, having secured an official interpretation of the United States permit, set forth its position in a comprehensive manner in a further despatch, which included a protest against pending proposals for the construction of a 9-foot navigable channel in the Illinois and Mississippi rivers based upon the diversion of 10,000 cubic feet per second from the Great Lakes through the sanitary district canal. It has been agreed with the United States government not to publish this despatch until the reply is also available for publication.
In conclusion, I might add that while some progress has been made towards bettering the conditions with respect to the Chicago diversion, as will be realized from a review of this correspondence, this government is maintaining the closest possible contact with every phase and feature having to do with the Chicago diversion and will continue to present the Canadian viewpoint with all possible firmness to the United States government. It might be further emphasized that this government has never at any time recognized, in the smallest degree, the diversion, and will continue to protest against the entire principle of abstracting water from the Great Lakes to another watershed.
Subtopic: CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN CANADIAN AND UNITED STATES GOVERNMENTS