American Water Works Abroad
One of the great problems that confronted the engineers of the United States Army, gotten together with such marvelous rapidity and sent to France on such short notice, was that of water supply. Not only must the troops he supplied with ample quantities of potable water, but its quality must also be of the best, for the preservation of the health of the army was paramount. How this great problem was met and how well the task was performed by the men intrusted with this work has now passed into history. The remarkably small percentages of deaths from typhoid and other enteric diseases in our army tells its own story of the triumph of the water works engineers in their labors in this respect. On the first page cover of this week’s issue of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING is shown one of the great works undertaken and carried through by these men. It depicts the construction of the dam for the immense reservoir used to supply Camp Pontanezen, at Brest, France, where the American troops were quartered before debarking for their homes in the United States, at the close of the war. This plant has a storage capacity of 16,000,000 gallons, and a daily capacity of 4,000,000 gallons. As will be seen by reference to the illustration on the first page cover, the manual labor in building these water works was performed by German prisoners, under the supervision of the American engineers, and it can be well supposed that there was no shirking of the workers on this particular job, with the alert Yankee sentinels on guard with a watchful eye to prevent that possibility. This, of course, was only one branch of the immense task so well performed by the water works men. One very useful apparatus much used was a portable water supply, with attachment necessary for the chemical treatment and purification of the water before its use by the men. Wells were very largely used for supplying water to the army, some being sunk from 150 to 250 feet in order to reach the level of saturation. In this work, with two shifts, the drilling progress on a six-inch hole varied from twenty to sixty feet per day, and the yield varied from fifty to one hundred fifty gallons per minute. Wells dug by hand, where emergency called for this action. were also employed, some being sunk to a depth of from thirty to sixty feet. If time permitted these wells were lined for the upper ten or twelve feet, and a curb two feet high was built around the top to prevent debris or waste dropping into them and polluting the supply. Of course, the permanent camps were furnished with water works similar to that illustrated.