AS TO PRIVATE WATER COMPANIES.
A correspondent of the Policy Holder, an English insurance paper, has ascribed the severity of the recent fire in Sun. derland to the fact that the water is supplied to the town by a private company or “monopoly.” as the writer styles this “hateful anomaly.”
The water supply (the writer continues) is first of all the necessities of life which should be con_____roled by the community. When men are more enlightened on this subject, they will realize that it is as infamous for the water supply of a city to be in the hands of a private monopoly as for the air we breathe to be under similar control. They are both tht source and fountain of health, safety, and life itself and, t.s such, should be administtred by the community for the community—by all for all.
The London Fireman, in commenting on the subject, remarks:
This is a very beautiful sentiment; but the way in which it is worked out is usually as follows:—The “community” stands by. and allows a number of private individuals to establish a company for supplying water. If the undertaking is not financially successful, no one thinks of interfering to relieve the promoters of their loss. If it prospers, it becomes a hateful anomaly,” and the local patriots who would have opposed taking it over had it been a failure protest that “it ia infamous for the water supply of a city to be in the hands of a private monopoly.” If so, no private individuals should ever be allowed to establish a water company; but we do not thiuk that the residents of new districts are likely ever to subscribe to that, for they welcome the capitalist, when his resources are wanted, as warmly as they denounce him, when he gets any return from his investment. As to the old air and water argument, you can get fresh air without providing pumping machinery and laying down pipes. Water is no more necessary than are food and fuel; the supply of these, by the same argument, should be “ administered by the communiiy for the community;” but wc doubt the success of the plan. Although, however,there is no justice in taking posession ( f a water plant merely because it is bringing in a dividend, there is a very good reason for doing so, it the reasonable wants of the “ community ” are not satisfied. We have here in London one water company whose continued existence is a scandal, because it does not to any reasonable degree meet the requiiements of its customers, an I it is enabled by law to maintain charges for seivice it does not render. We would gladly see the whole forcibly taken over by the county council or any other body that can obtain legislative permission, at a very low valuation. But, if a water company perfotms its duty as carefully as it collects its rates, its property should be as sr.cred as that of a newspaper proprietor.