A New Water Supply for Albany.
THE subject of a new water supply for the city of Albany, N. Y., was the subject of an interesting paper recently read by Alexander Selkirk before the Albany Institute. The scheme is a comprehensive one, and involves important considerations as to utility and expense.
The disposal of the sewage of interior and river cities is an important question, and demands the highest order of skill and experience to handle the attending difficulties and obstacles incident to peculiarities of location and extent of work to be done.
There is no doubt of the advantage to be derived from any scheme suggested that is practical to the inhabitants of Albany as well as to the people of the river towns below them. It would seem, however, that the difficulty to be overcome in connection with the disposal of Albany’s sewage is also associated with the question of what to do with the sewage in the river above Albany. Indeed, if no effort is made to restrict sewage disposal above Albany, then Albany may as well abandon the use of the Hudson for drinking water and domestic use.
Concerning the natural action of the tides, they of course must be recognized in whatever plan that may be suggested or approved. Yet it may be a wise step to fully institute a series of tests of the velocities of the tides in order to ascertain and take advantage of them. It seems, however, hardly possible that any perceptible amount of sewage can in the case of the upper Hudson be returned with the reaction of the tides.
Coming now to the main question for consideration, namely, the water supply of Albany, it can without contradiction be said that it would be the acme of engineering science for some one to propose a practical plan for a ijgw water supply from sources other than the Hudson river. The fact that questions of preventing the further pollution of the Hudson river by the sewage of the city of Albany so far as it may affect its own water supply are under discussion is sufficient evidence that a change is necessary in order to give the people of Albany unpolluted water.
Aside from the question of treating the sewage of Albany before it is permitted to enter the Hudson, would it not be a wise and profitable measure to institute surveys with a view to obtaining a water supply from a source remote from the possibilities of pollution and contamination and independent of the Hudson river proper ? It is impossible for Albany to obtain anything like potable water from the Hudson river so long as the population (ever increasing) above Albany is permitted to empty sewage without treatment into its stream.
It is certainly a very fine theory regarding the proposed new intake, which suggests the possibility of intercepting certain strata of water free from pollution in a comparitive sense. If it be an engineering impossibility to provide the city of Albany with a proper supply of water from sources other than the Hudson river, then the subject of purification by filtration will be the question for the people of the city to decide at once and none too soon. Water contaminated with purified sewage may be tolerated, but it certainly cannot be indorsed, particularly if there be the opportunity to obtain a water free from pollution and possibilities of contamination.