Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 68.djvu/477

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE NIAGARA PROBLEM UNDER LEGISLATION.

The whirlwind of public expression in regard to diversion of Niagara waters, which has swept through the daily and periodical press, probably constitutes the most notable outburst of recent times over an essentially sentimental proposition. Making allowance for easy extravagances of statement natural to semisensational news articles, the serious elements in the problem have been agitated with so much force and with such preponderance of protests against further encroachments that the whole subject has found its way to the tribunals where the people have undoubtedly wished to get it.

By legislation or treaty, or both, the existing situation, which actually seems to menace the perpetuity of Niagara's natural beauties, can undoubtedly be remedied, but it still remains to be seen whether it will be. At the present writing the remedial measures instituted and in progress at Washington and Albany have created a situation from which the public may, at least, expect some salutary results, but which does not yet justify the rather noisy claims of various civic organizations that they have 'saved Niagara.'

The president in his last message to congress urged legislation and suggested treaty relations with Great Britain to the desired end. Governor Higgins in his annual message earnestly pressed the situation upon the New York legislature. President Roosevelt intimated that if New York could not take care of her rights in Niagara she might cede them to the federal government, but New York has not been inclined to entertain this proposition. Early in the present session of congress Senator Platt introduced a concurrent resolution authorizing the president to invite the cooperation of Great Britain in the appointment of an international commission which should undertake to make recommendations as to the solution of the problem and to appoint the American members thereof. The progress of this resolution, reported by Senator Burton out of the committee on foreign relations, was obstructed by the objection of Senator Teller, who thought that inasmuch as it was essentially a New York matter it must take its allotted place on the calendar, to be reached at some indefinite period in the future. It is understood that in the meanwhile the president had referred the matter of possible treaty relations to the secretary of state, but, if the press reports are correct, the efforts made by this official through the usual diplomatic channels have not yet borne fruit.

Meanwhile the international waterways commission, authorized a few years ago by the secretary of war to consider all problems arising in regard to the control of the boundary waters between the United States and Canada, after specially investigating the conditions during protracted hearings held at Niagara Falls last summer, has made an ex parte report in regard to diversion in the Niagara River, that is, a report adopted only by the American section of the commission. This is very strongly condemnatory of the existing and impending situation, and forcibly urges immediate legislation by congress to limit abstraction, if the beauty of the falls is to be preserved. This report calls attention to the fact, elicited by their inquiry, that the present authorized diversion from the Niagara River is 60,000 cubic feet per second, 26,700 to be taken from the American side and 34,200 from the Canadian; that this amount is 27 per