Against Lower Water Rates in St. Louis.
Declaring that nearly 14,000,000,000 gal. of water, or more than one-fourth of the total water production by the municipal plant last year, was distributed free, Water Commissioner Ben C. Adkins sounds a danger signal in the movement for a reduction of water rates in the city of St. Louis, Mo. In a report to the board of public improvements for the last fiscal year he declars the proposed reduction in rates a very grave problem. He says the rates cannot be reduced without an increase in taxes or some other method of providing for the defiecit which will result.
City institutions use a large amount of water, and the supply furnished free for firefighting and street-sprinkling is enormous. Adkins states that nearly 1,000 gal. of water a minute is being used at the Insane asylum, Poorhouse and Female hospital, and that the total amount of water furnished free, including the water wasted in lawn-sprinkling, aggregated 18,000,000 gal. a day. If this water was paid for at the rate manufacturers now pay, which is the lowest rate allowed by the city, it would produce a revenue of $1,125,000 a year.
He is also considering a system of assessing factories and large mercantile houses for fire protection in an effort to raise the waterworks revenue enough to permit of a reduction in rates. It is proposed to start the preparation of plans soon for a $2,000,000 high-pressure system in the downtown district to provide better fire protection, and a conference to be held soon will determine whether the work shall be done by a bond issue or by waterworks revenue.
ANNEXATION PRESENTS PROBLEM.
Adkins recommends in his report that a commission be appointed to investigate the problem of an extension in the waterworks system to meet the needs of a Greater St. Louis when the city limits are extended. He says it is a problem that can not be solved in a short time and that the city should know what it is facing before an extension of the area of the city is made. He said it was probable some action would be taken soon toward the creation of a commission, in view of the present agitation for the extension of the city limits.
Other recommendations are that steps be taken to protect the water system from damage in the vicinity of the clay mines in the west and southwest parts of the city. He says that recently a fire hydrant on a street corner disappeared, and it took several men a day to find it, a part of the street having caved in as a result of the mines underneath. Electrolytic conditions, he reports, arc grow ing worse, with a likelihood that before many years the “tramp” electricity in the ground as a result of the street railway and electric light currents will seriously interfere with the water system.
Some interesting data is shown in the report, including figures to show that St. Louis water is slightly better than 96 per cent, pure, as relates to bacteria. There are, however, about 2,000 bacteria to each cubic centimeter of water, after nearly 97 per cent, of the bacteria are removed. Purification of St, Louis water costs $1.36 per 1,000,000 gal., of which slightly more than 9 cents is for pumping.
SEDIMENT REMOVAL EXPENSIVE.
Lime and sulphate of iron, used in the pro portion of 5.58 grains of the former and 2.41 grains of the latter per gallon, cost $3.53 per 1,000,000 gal. Sediment removed from the three basins at the Chain of Rocks aggregated 135, 108 cn. yds. during the last year, mostly mud from the river. Basin No. 1 showed sediment aggregating 78.51 ft. during the year, removed at frequent intervals. Another basin showed 58.50 feet and_a third 17,99 ft. depth.
The amount” of water pumped for the year was 55,384,668,360 gal., averaging 70,676,000 gal. per day, against 68,936,000 per day for the preceding year. The largest consumption was August 31, 1908. when 91,534,000 gal. were consumed. May 3 showed the least consumption, 49,504,000 gal.