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Missouri v. Illinois

United States Supreme Court
200 U.S. 496 (1906)


Pursuant to an Illinois (defendant) statute, the City of Chicago discharged nearly 1,500 tons of sewage into the Desplaines River per day which eventually flowed 357 miles into the Mississippi River, 43 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri. Many cities and towns in Missouri relied upon the water from the Mississippi River for drinking and for agricultural purposes. The State of Missouri (plaintiff) brought suit against the State of Illinois claiming the sewage dumping constituted a public nuisance, threatened the health of its citizens by causing typhoid fever, and should thus be stopped. Illinois responded that since Missouri brought legal action, it made amends and, as a result, the water flowing into the Mississippi River was purer than it was before. Further, Illinois alleged that many Missouri cities and towns along the Mississippi River were discharging their own sewage into the river and that if there was any trouble Missouri must look nearer home for the cause.

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Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

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