Wisconsin v. Illinois
278 U.S. 367 (1929)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wisconsin v. Illinois, 278 U.S. 367 (1929)

Wisconsin v. Illinois

Nos. 7, 11, and 12 Original

Argued April 23, 24, 1928

Decided January 14, 1929

278 U.S. 367

1. A suit between states bordering on the Great Lakes, in which the plaintiffs sought to enjoin the defendant state and its administrative agency from diverting the lake water through a sanitary canal into another watershed under a permit from the Secretary of War, alleging that the diversion, by lowering the level of the lakes and waters connecting them, inflicted great damage upon public and private riparian property in the plaintiff states and to their waterborne commerce; that it was contrary to legislation of Congress, and, if permitted thereby, was unconstitutional in that it exceeded the power of Congress to regulate commerce, preferred the ports of one state over those of other states, deprived the plaintiffs and their citizens of property without due process of law, and invaded the sovereign rights of the plaintiffs as members of the Union, held a case within the original jurisdiction of this Court. P. 278 U. S. 409.

2. Under § 10 of the Act of 1899, 26 Stat. 455, obstructions to the navigable capacity of the waters of the United States are prohibited if not affirmatively authorized by Congress, but obstructions of the kinds specified in the second and third clauses of the section are so authorized when approved by the Chief of Engineers and the Secretary of War, without further action by Congress. P. 278 U. S. 411.

3. The authority thus conferred on executive officers is not an unconstitutional delegation as applied to determining the amount of water that may be diverted from a lake without impairing navigability. P. 278 U. S. 414.

Page 278 U. S. 368

4. Authority for diverting water from Lake Michigan through the Chicago Sanitary Canal is not to be found in such action as Congress has taken relative to a proposed waterway between that lake and the State of Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, nor in its appropriations for widening and deepening the Chicago River. P. 278 U. S. 416.

5. The Sanitary District of Chicago, an agency of the Illinois, operating a canal partly in the Chicago River and connected with streams leading to the Mississippi River through which the great volumes of sewage emanating from Chicago and its environs are carried to the Mississippi watershed by means of water abstracted from Lake Michigan, having been enjoined from diverting such water in excess of the amounts allowed by an existing permit from the Secretary of War or any that might be issued by him according to law (Sanitary District v. United States,266 U. S. 405), applied for and received from the Secretary a new permit, under the Act of March 3, 1899. The new permit was temporary and revocable and subject to the condition, among others, that a specified measure of diligence be displayed by the District in providing other means of sewage disposal which, in course of time, would obviate excessive drafts on the lake water for that purpose. In a suit against the Sanitary District and the State of Illinois by other states bordering on the Great Lakes and connecting waters, in which it appeared that the continued diversions at Chicago had lowered the water level to the damage of the plaintiffs and their citizens, held:

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