A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE COLUMBUS, OHIO, WATER WORKS
THE shop and stable on Front street were opened for use on August 1, 1886. Mr. John B Gregory, civil engineer, was employed to furnish a plan for a dam. Mr. Rickley placed his damages at $20,000, and others desired larger amounts,making a total of $92,000 for flowage rights. Not having means for such purposes, the trustees secured a report from Mr. Thomas II. Johnson, C. E., who is now chief engineer of the Southwest system of the Pennsylvania lines, and dcided iri accordance with his recommendations to build another filter gallery to the north. This was accordingly done for a length of 1,9111 feet, at a total cost of $20 890, which amount included $500 for the right of way. About this time a resurvey of premises supplied with water yielded an annual increase of $10,000 for water which was being used without authority. This year the department felt justified in spending $ 10 for shade trees at the pumping station, but the ornamental stone coping round the clear water basin, desired and recommended for many years, is at tinpresent writing still in the future.
In 1889 the distributing system had grown to ninety miles in length, the average daily use of water to 0,188,708 gallons. The gallery system of the west side having extended to a tot al length of 9,296 fee* , the authorities began to turn their attention to new fields of development, and the valley of Alum creek, east of the city, for one and one-half miles in length and half a mile in width, lying south of the Pan Handle railway, and north of Main street, was explored by three-inch driven wells, fourteen in number. Artesian water rising eight feet above the surface was discovered at depths of sixty-five feet, about forty feet of the upper strata usually being of soil and blue clay. Mr. Johnson was again called and interpreted t he borings as indicatug asubterranean channel 1,200 feet wide,soft water,a distant origin,and an inexhaustible supply. Professor Edward Orton, sr.,State geologist, who also reported on the question,stated that the varying character of the stratification, partly porous, indicated a surface and nearby origin of the water; he noted iron impurities as not especially objectionable, and recommended that at least one well be sunk to the bed rock. Professor Curtis C. Howard analysed the supply for organic impurities, and from t his point of view found the water satisfactory, although he reported total solids at 56.2 parts per 100,000—the water being, in fact, several degrees harder than the west side conduit water. The east side pumping station was completed at a cost of $245,000. Two upright,tripleexpanskii. 7 500,000-gallon pumps were installed, and regular service began on May 5, 1891. The two stations pumed an average of 9,060,000 gallons per day, the work liug nearly equally divided. The following year the west side pumped 7,708,919 gallons; the east side, 8,889,092 gallons; while in 1898 the ratio was not greatly different, but showed a little better for the east side station.
There are a few points of interest connected with the development of the east side supply. About six acres were purchased on the west bank of Alum creek and adjoining the Pan Handle railway. A brick well, twenty-five feet in diameter, resting on a cast iron shoe, in sections, five feet high, aud securely bolted together through inside flanges, was rapidly sunk through tlu* clay and for a short distance into the water-bearing sand, until the pumping out of this material with the water caused a settlement of the surrounding area, and a consequent gripping of the brick curb which effectually arrested its further descent. The contractor for the well failed, and a local contractor undertook the job at a price per lineal foot for further sinking. He at once began to excavate round the well at the surface, carrying his excavation possibly twenty feet deep, and cribbing the same with timber, in order to diminish the skin-friction on the well, which being done, excavation within the well went forward without pumping by means of a four-leaved dredging bucket, and the curb sank rapidly, so that, before the authorities called a halt, the cast iron shoe on one side had reached the shale and partly cased off the water supply, which accounts for the failure to obtain more than an average of 4,500000 gallons per day, and this quantity collected only at much risk to the pumping machinery on account of the danger of taking air at the bottom of the suction pipe.
♦Paper read at the nineteenth annual convention of the American Water Works association, Columbus. Ohio, June, ISM.
In the autumn of 1893 Mr. Rudolph Hering, civil and sanitary engineer of New York, was engaged for a report on the water supply of Columbus by the Columbus Evening Dispatch. He made a hasty examination and recommended tests for ground water in Olentangy valley, north of the city, and possibly in Big Walnut. He estimated that, with Columbus material, thirty square miles of gravel were necessary to obtain a supply of 10,000,000 gallons of ground water per day. He found that a storage reservoir in the river valley would be necessary, that the Scioto would give a larger quantity and had less surfacepollution, but purification would be required in any case This examination was not instrumental, nor was it sufficiently extended to determine any of the details of the plan recommended. In 1894 a contract was made with the Wagner Water Supply company, of Dayton, Ohio, to increase the supply to 6,0U0,000 gallons per day at the east side station by a system of steamed wells, which was done by sinking thirtytwo six-inch wells, about sixty feet in depth, and coupling them together in a trench about sixteen feet below the surface of the ground. These wells were soon completed, and the pumping record shows a daily yearly average to the present time, varying from 5,671,666 gallons to 5,960,911 gallons.
From the opening of the works down to 1894 the price of metered water had been upon a sliding scale— from twenty cents down to six cents, in favor of the larger consumer. In 1894 the charge for metered water was uniform at six cents per 1,000 gallons, us the result of an encounter at law with a consumer who contended for equal rights and no discrimination
in 1895, two 12,000,000-gallon horizontal Gaskill engines, which had been contracted for the year before, were placed in the west side station, makings total pumping capacity for thisstation of 34,000,000 gallons per day. Early in this year it was proposod to construct a low darn in the Scioto near the intake, four feet in height, in order to make a small reservoir to balance daily fluctuations in consumption, and provide a reserve for use in case of an extensive conflagration. A contract for the same was let, hut the plan was required to pass in review before the State hoard of health under the provisions of theState law of 1893 As a result the plan was disapproved—raw river water being declared unsuitable in quality for a public supply. It was recommended hv the hoard that investigation he made to secure additional ground water, and the filters for the river water he constructed just llow the proposed dam—the same to he in operation one year from the time of beginning work upon the dam. The State Board called to its service as consulting engineer, Mr. Allen Hazen, who reported under date of April 23, 1895. that wells for ground water would he cheaper than galleries, but should he further apart than at the east side station, where the distance averaged about twenty-five feet. He also recommended some test wells in the Alum creek valley, to determine the ground water level and how it was affected by the pumping station. He reported the east side water as not unhealthful, hut unsuited for a puhlicsupply on account of its excessive hardness and the quantity of dissolved iron which precipitated on exposure to the air as a red ferric hydrate. He also suggested the use of Clark’s process for softening, and a storage reservoir in one of four streams near Columbus as the probable future source of supply, which on account of the large population on any of the drainage basins, would require purification. The year 1897 was unusually dry, and the city was carried through the season by constructing low temporary dams of sand hags, brush, and earth, so as to store the night flow of the river, and turn it into the conduit the following day; by this means the use of Olentangy river water was not required, nor has it been used for two years. A drop in the annual typhoid fever death rate from forty-four to twenty-six and twenty-eight for 10,000 population may possibly be due to this fact.
The city in 1896 acquired for $5,000 the right to use the water from Fishinger’s mill pond in the Scioto about seven miles above the intake. In March, 1898, occurred the heaviest flood ever seen at Columbus, which overtopped the levees and rose forty-nine inches over the floor of the west side pumping station, interrupting the pumping service thirty-eight hours and fifty minutes.
Bacterial and chemical analysis of the west side water supply seemed to indicate that the water from the filtering gallery was reasonably free from organic matter, with forty-seven bacteria per c c., hut the water from the springs in the basin, while not unhealthful, was materially different, the bacteria rising to 222 per c. c., and the chemical constituents indicating a different origin. There had been some trouble from the caving-in of the main filtering gallery and also from unevenness in its grade, due to the method of construction with low points at thesumps and summits between. For these reasons, a castiron CONDUIT,FORTY-TA oinches in diameter, of pipein twelve foot lengths, weighing about 350 pounds per lineal foot, having forty-six cored holes, two and one-quarter inches in diameter in four rows, in the lower third of its circumference, was laid on a level grade through the basin, so as to isolate the same, and under the Olentangy river; thence, with a grade of one foot per thousand, about fifty feet away from, and parallel with the old gallery, crossing the south branch, and for the present terminating under the centre of the Scioto river 3,550.5 feet from its beginning point Before construction, sundry test wells had been sunk along the line of the proposed conduit to determine the stratification and the probabilities of obtaining good water. Bedrock was thus discovered varying from seven to sixty-four feet below the surface. While constructing the conduit, thirty-four six-inch wells were drilled along the side of the forty-two-inch pipe, about thirty-two feet apart, located west of Sandusky street, i’he wells were mostly sunk about ten feet into the rock, and yielded an artesian supply of water, which was turned into the new conduits by cutting slits about two inches by twelve inches in the well casing at the level of the conduit.
The 1898 report of the water works department shows the average pumping per day for the west side station 8,704,604 gallons; east side station 5,960,911 gallons; total 14,655,515 gallons. There were in service 173.2 miles of distributing pipe, and 3,702 meters. During 1896, 1897, aud 1898, the question of an adequate water supply was further considered by the public authorities, resulting in surveys of the Scioto river to determine the best location for a dam or dams. A series of low dams over which the water would purify itself in foaming cascades was thought by many to be the correct solution of the difficulty. There was, however, presently prepared, a plan and estimate of a dam, with a crest elevation thirty feet above low water, forming a reservoir Hix miles long, and storing 1,673,000,000 gallons of water, for the construction of which an issue of $175,000 in bonds was authorized by popular vote at the spring election of 1898. Soon after, this plan was submitted to the State board of health, which called Mr. Allen Hazen as its consulting engineer. The general plan for the dam was approved, but, for the purpose of an adequate supply and the greater purity of the water, a suggestion was made that the dam he made twenty feet higher than planned. The city then employed Mr. James D. Schuyler, consulting hydraulic engineer, of Los Angeles, California. Mr. Schuyler arrived in Colbmbus in July, spent some two weeks in a study •of the situation and the plans proposed, and in his valuable report of twenty-four pages recommended a dam of concrete masonry with a spillway in the natural rock at the side, fifty-two feet above present low water. The plan, when finished, would include filtering beds below the dam site, and a pumping station operated in part by waterpower. For increasing the water power, a movable dam in the spillway to store additional storm water and increase the power hpad was suggested. The masonry dam « as estimated to cost, exclusive of flowage rights, $324,117, but, as the city had only $175,006, it was proposed to put in the foundation of a dam, which, when completed, would follow the lines recommended by Mr. Schuyler, but for the present would have for its profile a notched section with an overflow crestthelatter to be thirty feet above low water. Accordingly about 200 acres of land have been purchased and suits in condemnation are in progress to acquire the eight remaining parcels for which the city was unable to agree. Bids for the construction of the dam were received by the city on February 16, 1899, but further progress is now interrupted by a temporary injunction restraining the hoard of public works from awarding the contract.
Such in brief, is the history ot the Columbus Water Works, which for some of its leading features, with suitable changes in the local names, might well be the history of many other works. The small beginning, the gradnal development, the constantly increasing percentage of wasted water, and the continual struggle to obtain an adequate supply, to which they have never attained, are, I am persuaded, quite within the range of the experience of many who have followed the course of this paper.