ATLANTA WATER SUPPLY

ATLANTA WATER SUPPLY

In its waterworks system Atlanta Ga., possesses assets sudi as fall to the lot of few other cities. Built by the city in 1874-75, it had already become so much of a civic institution ten years afterwards that, when there was a talk of the plant being about to be sold to some Northern capitalists, the citizens rose as one man, and in mass meeting assembled let it be distinctly understood by the mayor and corporation that any such sale would mean permanent political decapitation for all or any who might be concerned in it. The result was that the Northern corporation had to look elsewhere for an investment, and the waterworks system was improved and extended, whereby the community has been served the better. Of late, however, there has been seen and heard a slight ripple of dissatisfaction over the waterworks department, in which the people still take as lively an interest as ever, and with regard to which they are willing to believe that the source of that dissatisfaction is only a misunderstanding on their own part. They know that the fact of Atlanta’s best citizens being in the management of the waterworks system is sufficient to stifle any suspicion (if any such existed) of malfeasance in the administration of the funds or of politics in the appointment of the employes—as can be shown from the list of the commissioners and from that of the employes, all of whom, from the mayor down, are men who stand for and are themselves examples of a clean, honest, intelligent, and capable operation of the waterworks system in every branch of the department, whose personnel has never been of a higher character than at present and cannot be surpassed in excellence by that of any other department in the city. The following citizens compose the water board: Frank P. Rice, president; M. M. Welch, vicepresident; Dr. A. L. Curtis; W. S. Duncan; J. W. Kilpatrick; A. Q. Adams; J. Wylie Pope; Mayor Evan P. Howell, late editor of the Atlanta Constitution, ex-officio; and Councilman Martin F. Amorous, ex-officio. All these men represent various classes and interests in the city, and their names stand for the best elements among the citizens. Under the direction of this board, the following officers operate the waterworks department for Atlanta: Colonel Park Woodward, general manager; W. R. Dimmock, secretary; W. M. Rapp, superintendent of construction; J. W. Rapp, superintendent of shops and meter department; M. B. T’orbet. cashier and chief bookkeeper. The name of Park Woodward alone is one to conjure with, and as he is. so are the others. The trouble that exists at present is connected with the revenues of the department. As regards this, it seems to be forgotten by the dissatisfied ones and is not realised by many of the citizens, that the city never has proposed and does not propose to make money out of the waterworks department. To do so would be to inflict extra taxation on the consumers of water for the benefit of the municipality. The objects which those who administer the water department have in view are simply as follows: To supply all city departments with free water; to give plenty of water for fire protection; to keep all the charitable institutions supplied with all the water they need, free of charge; to pay the interest on the waterworks bonded debt; to keep the present machinery in repair and make permanent improvements in the system from time to time; and do so by charging the people only a sufficient amount to do these things—and nothing more. This is proved from the following facts: In 1895 the total receipts of the department amounted to $81,822.71—more than enough for the purposes mentioned above. The rate charged was eighty cents for the first 5.000 gallons used for domestic purposes, and the regular rate for each 1,000 gallons in excess of the 5,000. .The rate was, therefore, reduced to sixty cents for the first 6,000 gallons—less money and more water—the cheapest water rate charged in the country. In 1894 the receipts dropped to $65,452.61, thereby showing that the board had accomplished what it had intended, by doing what no other municipality had hitherto done voluntarily—namely, reducing its receipts to the actual operating expenses, in order to save money to the water consumers. Had the eighty cent rate continued, the profits to the water department would have been $200,000, instead of $175,000, with the assurance that the receipts would increase every year following. Since that time the population, the buildings, the trade, and the oroperty of Atlanta have increased by leaps and bounds, and the receipts of the waterworks department have kept pace with this rapid growth. Its receipts since January 1, 1894. to 1QO3 have been as follows: 1894, $65,452.61; 1895, $73,562.83; 1896, $83.339 39: 1897, $92,484-92: 1898, $103,774-54; 1899$116,302.66; 1900, $133,819-26; 1901, $141,867.09; 1902. $157,041.03; 1903. $175,000. At the end of this year the department will have sold and given away $340,000 worth of water, while the operating expenses and fixed charges will amount to $50,000, the interest on the bonds, $69,230—making a total of $149,230. Free water to the amount of $165,000 will have been given away, and, even if that is not credited to the department, the net profit to the municipality will still be $26,000 clear. These figures hardly tend to show that in Atlanta municipal ownership is a failure, while the city’s water department is the best of its assets. The board of water commissioners does not complain of having to supply so much water free (most of it metered, or, as in the case of the fire hydrants, sewer flush-tanks, private sprinklers, and fountains charged at so much apiece annually). On the contrary, its members are glad that they have it in their power to do so. If they could, they would increase the number of the free services and again reduce the price of water. But in common fairness they demand credit for these free services, and ask that their cost be considered in estimating the earnings of the system. To show still further the value of this, one of Atlanta’s best assets, is given herewith the number of miles of water mains in Atlanta in 1894, at the close of 1894 and at the close of 1903 —the 1903 figures being, of course, estimated: 1894. sixty-seven miles 1,753 feet; 1902, 131 miles 2,948 feet; 1903, 140 miles. The pumpage figures are intercsting (those for 1903 being, of course, only closely estimated). In 1894 it was 1,666,623,700 gallons; in 1902, 2,511,687,200; in 1903. 2,700,000,000. The consumption of coal during the same years (that for 1903 estimated) was as follows: In 1894, 4,698 ton’s; in 1902, 9,754: in I9°3. 10,000. If a comparison is made between the increased mileage the increased pumpage, and the increased consumption with the following statement of the cost of operation and fixed charges during the three years, the result should provoke thoughtful consideration. The cost of operation was as follows. In 1894, $51.493-54; in 1902. $75,870.42; in 1903, $80,000. In other words, the receipts have gone from $65,000 to $175,000; the mileage, from sixty-seven miles to 140 miles; the pumpage has increased more than 1,000,000,000 gallons ; the coal consumption has considerably more than doubled itself: and the operating expenses have gone from $51,000 to $80,000. These statistics show that, so far, at least, as concerns Atlanta, the municipal ownership of that public utility has not only been a conspicuous success, but has likewise not proved itself to be the forerunner of municipal corruption. The water supplied to the citizens, it may be added, is the product of pure, fresh mountain streams, which go to make up the Chattahoochee river.

SUPT. PARK WOODWARD, ATLANTA, GA.

The Brazos, Tex., Canal company is to be sued by Thomas O’Brien for $12,715 for its alleged failure tc water part of his 640 acres of rice land last season, in accordance with its contract

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