How Growth and Emergencies of Supply Have Been Taken Care of in Red Wing —Private Wells Abandoned by Consumers

THE following description of the improvements in the Red Wing water works and of the part the man most responsible for these additions to its efficiency had in bringing them to a head has the unusual distinction of being written by the fire chief of the city. The article emphasises the fact that Chief Gross is not only an efficient fire-fighter, but is also a progressive citizen who takes a patriotic interest in other activities of his city outside his own sphere:

The city of Red Wing, Minn., has just completed work on a new well, pump house and storage reservoir, the complete cost of which lacks fifty dollars of being $40,000. This new equipment is a reserve unit to back up the older equipment and, if necessary, replace it and positively guarantee the city a sufficient quantity of excellent artesian water for domestic uses, as well as for firefighting purposes.

The new well project (Fig. 1) was started late in the Fall of 1922, when the contract for drilling was let to William Collinge of Zumbrota, the cost to be $4,600. The work of drilling was started in December of that year and was concluded early in the Spring of 1923 when a depth of 475 feet was reached and a good flow of water obtained. A 16-inch casing was sunk to a depth of 75 feet and 12-inch casing was used the remainder of the depth. The necessary fittings were attached and the well was allowed to flow free up until the time it was finally harnessed and connected to the new storage reservoir in October this year. Contract for the building of the storage reservoir was let to the H. E. Rhoads Company of Guthrie, Ia„ to cost $18,838 and their work was finished about September 1, this year. The contract for excavating for the new reservoir was let to C. Walter Johnson, Red Wing, to cost $5,000. Mr. Johnson also secured the contract to build the pump house at a cost of $3,450. The Worthington Pump & Machinery Corporation secured the contract for one Harris Air Lift with 50 h. p. electric motor at a cost of $4,344. Capacity of air lift g. p. m. Hildred & Co., St. Paul, Minn., secured the contract for the 1,100 g. p. m. centrifugal pump and electric 150 h. p. motor at a cost of $3,132. It is also proposed to install a gasoline motor for use when the electric current might fail.

John G. Kappel, Pres., Water Board, Red Wing, Minn.Chief John A. Gross, Red Wing, Minn.

New Well Field Selected

In selecting a field for the new well, (Fig. 2) some of the councilmen argued that another well should be drilled on the site of the old well, which is located in the western part of the City. The members of the Board of Water Commissioners, however, wanted to tap a new vein and selected a site in the eastern part of the city at the foot of Barn Bluff, being convinced that they would make a serious mistake attempting to get more water from a vein that is supplying many other factory wells and must be nearly exhausted by this time.

The old equipment consists of a pumping station which was built in the early eighties, when water was pumped by steam from the Mississippi river to the pressure reservoir (1,000,000 gallons capacity) on Sorins Bluff (Fig. 3). This river water could not be used for drinking and was used for fire protection and toilet and bath room purposes only. About 1908 the city drilled its first artesian well (Fig. 2) and built a storage reservoir of 750,000 gallons capacity. The pressure reservoir was then drained and treated, the mains were drained and cleaned, the pump connection to the river was broken and from that day to the present time the citizens of Red Wing have had the finest quality of deep well water at the end of their faucets. About 12 years ago an electric motor was installed in the old pumping station to do the work, though the steam plant is maintained for emergency purposes.

Fig. 1—New Well and Pump House, Located in East Red Wing, at Foot of Historic Barn Bluff.Fig. 2—Old Well, Reservoir and Pump House in West Red Wing, with the Father of Waters in Background

New Pump and Motor Purchased

In January, of this year, the Board of Water Commissioners purchased a new Axeflow Turbine pump and 50 h. p. electric motor at a cost of $4,090 and installed same in the old station. The new pump has a rated capacity of 1,500 g. p. m., though up to the present time it has not been worked higher than 1,100 g. p. m. To push the water from the storage reservoir out into the mains and up into the pressure reservoir, an electric driven centrifugal pump with a capacity of 1,100 g. p. m. is used (at both the old and new stations).

The pressure reservoir (Fig. 3) on Sorins Bluff is 265 feet above the level of either of the pumping stations and gives a direct hydrant pressure of from 35 to 105 pounds at the hydrant. The low pressure is noted in the suburbs and hill districts. Excellent pressure is available in the business, manufacturing and practically all of the residence districts of the city. The water coming from each well is aerated before it enters the storage reservoirs.

Good Showing in Chemical Analysis

Chemical analysis of the water from each well is as follows, from the official findings of the Minnesota State Board of Health:

With Good Water Private Wells Disappeared

With the coming of the deep well water, passed with such fine markings by the state board of health, surface wells on residence properties have disappeared and it is doubted if you could find a dozen surface wells in the city of Red Wing which has a population of 10,000 people and approximately 2,600 homes, factories and business places. And contagious disease is scarcely known or heard of in the city of Red Wing. In 1910 the records of the board of water commissioners showed about 12 miles of mains with connections to about 600 consumers. The board was operating at a deficit at this time. Then the growth commenced. Today the system totals about 25 miles of mains to which 1,800 consumers are connected. And the board is showing a substantial profit each year. In fact, since 1912, the board started to get on its feet and in 11 years had accumulated a surplus nearly sufficient to take care of the new well and equipment. Which speaks well for the able manner in which the business has been conducted by the Water Board members.

Fig. 3-Pressure Reservoir Built in Sorins Bluff, Across Valley from Barn Bluff, Site of New Well

Water Board Receives No Salary

Much credit is due the board of water commissioners for their untiring efforts to dbtain good water for their city and endeavor to guarantee the supply for years to come. Especially should their services be the more appreciated because of the fact that they receive no salary for their work and are often hampered, criticized and abused while trying to solve the problems that confront them. The board is composed of John G. Kappel, president and members H. C. Kohn and William Schilling. Two former board members who served the city and worked hard on the new project were W. S. Weiss and H. E. Akenson. President Kappel’s term as a board member expired last Spring. He had served three full terms, or nine years, as a member and, according to the city charter, could not be re-appointed. He was appointed by Mayor J. J. Ferrin in 1915. Our present mayor, Thomas Mohn, recognizing the valuable service of Mr. Kappel, did not appoint a successor to him last Spring and Mr. Kappel is holding over. So, John G. Kappel is still serving the city and has seen his ambitions accomplished for, it must be said, he has fought for the new well and pumping units harder than any other citizen and there were times that it appeared to be a losing fight when the cry of “curtail expenses” and “keep down the taxes” was heard on every hand.

Personality of Its President

Mr. Kappel has lived in Red Wing all his life, is one of Uncle Sam’s faithful employees, having carried mail for 35 years. He takes a lively interest in the city government and is very well posted on matters pertaining to water works and their operation. In the past few years he has devoted his vacation periods to visiting other towns, inspecting their water works systems and gathering data that would be valuable in solving the Red Wing problem. And, be it understood, he needs no one to do his thinking for him; he is competent to argue or debate with anyone and, above all, he is not a quitter. These essential qualifications have drawn the other board members to him and made it possible for him to carry the fight through the council and win out. He is very modest about taking credit for his work and feels that he could not have accomplished the desired goal without the loyal support of his fellow board members.

Need for New Equipment Felt for Years

The need for this new well and equipment has been felt for years. Especially during each summer period when, with street sprinkling, the capacity of the older well was taxed to the limit when it was pumped practically 24 hours each day and the water level in the well about two and a half feet from the pump’s reach. These were dangerous periods and it was necessary to place faucets on the drinking fountains and request citizens to refrain from sprinkling their lawns and gardens with the city water.

One hundred and seventy two fire hydrants are connected to the system of mains and 11 industrial plants have sprinkler systems connected to the system without charge. Red Wing’s water rate to consumers is 20 cents per hundred cubic feet up to 2000 cubic feet; over that quantity, 8 cents per hundred cubic feet.

W. I. Miller, veteran superintendent, who served the board for over a quarter of a century, retired last Spring because of failing health and was succeeded by Robert S. Peterson, Assistant Superintendent.

And Red Wing now boasts of having one of the finest water works systems (for a city of its size) in the United States and extends the welcome hand to water works officials of any city in the land to come in and “look us over.” Louis P. Wolff, St. Paul, Minn., was consulting engineer on the new well project. Mr. Wolff was born and raised in Red Wing and served as City Engineer for a number of years before entering the larger field.


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