BAY CITY WATERWORKS.
A Historic Sketch of the Plant by E L. Dunbar, Engineer and Superintendent.
(Especially written for FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.)
Bay City, Mich., is located about one hundred miles northwest from Detroit on the east bank of Saginaw river, from four to eight miles where the river empties into Saginaw bay. The first permanent white settler located in the place in 1831, and in 1859, when the village was incorporated, the population was about 700. The village became a city in 1865 with a population of 3,000, and by the United States census of 1870 the population was 7,064. The principal industry being the manufacture of lumber, millions of feet of which were piled on the docks along the margin of the river, the danger of a sweeping conflagration was at all times imminent.
In 1871 the city council appointed a committee to “examine into the feasibility and expense of securing an adequate supply of water from Saginaw bay,” and the committee appointed Geo. C. Morgan, C. E., of Chicago, to furnish an estimate, based upon locating the pumping station on the shore of Saginaw bay about four miles from the city limits and about three and one-half miles east of the mouth of Saginaw river, with a sixteen-inch main about one-half the distance to the city, a twelve-inch main, the balance of the way, and about four and one-half miles of. distributing mains in the city. This estimate of the cost of the system was about $118,000.
Acting upon the report of the committee a special lection was called on August 14, 1871, to vote upon the question of issuing bonds of the city for this sum for the construction of a system of waterworks, and the issue was authorised by a vote of 469 to 26. On the 6th day of September, 1871, council adopted an ordinance for the appointment of a board of commissioners of waterworks to consist of five members, one from each ward, and at the same session appointed the members of the board. The balance of the year 1871 was given up to the examination of water systems of other cities and the consideration of methods of supply best adapted to the needs of Bay City. In these preliminary examinations the board was ably assisted by Geo. D. Walcott. C. E., at that time superintendent of waterworks at Jackson, Mich., and who acted as consulting engineer to the board during the first year of construction.
The board decided that the plan as outlined by Mr. Morgan would be inadequate to the requirements of the city, but it determined to locate the pumping station within the city limits, on the bank of the river and to construct an intake from the bay, to be placed at such depths as should permit the water to flow by gravitation to small receiving wells at the pumping station—these wells to be connected with the river to furnish a supply during the construction of the intake from the bay, and for an emergency supply in case of accident to that portion of the works. On the second day of January, 187’, the board appointed E. L. Dunbar, at that time city engineer, as chief engineer and superintendent of construction and secretary of the board. Mr Dunbar entered upon his duties on the 19th day of January, 1872, and has continued in that position until the present time, without interruption. In January, 1872, a contract was made with the Holly Manufacturing company for pumping engines, as follows: One Holly quadrupiex, condensing crank and flywheel pumping engine, with four steam cylinders, each fourteen inches in diameter, and four water cylinders, each nine inches in diameter, all twenty-four-inch stroke; one Holly rotary engine; 150 H. P. driving two No. 10 Holly rotary pumps, and two horizontal tubular boilers, sixteen feet long and sixty-six inches diameter. The contract price for this machinery was $32,000 set up and in running order on foundations to be erected by the board. In March, 1872, contracts were awarded for making the necessary excavation for, and erecting the foundations of pumping station, engine, and boiler foundations, and walls of receiving wells. The contract for the superstructure of the pumping station was let in May, 1872. In April, 1872, a contract was closed with Drullard and Hayes, of Buffalo, N. Y., for about 700 tons of cast iron pipe from four to sixteen-inch diameter. The contract price was $67.50 per ton in Buffalo. The pipe was delivered by boat on a freight rate of $2 per ton. The contract for valves was awarded to Jas. Flower & Bros., of Detroit, at the following prices: Four-inch valves, $19.50 each; six-inch valves, $31 each; eight-inch valves, $41 each; teninch valves, $56 each; twelve-inch valves, $73 each; sixteen-inch valves, $180 each.
By the terms of the ordinance creating the board its members were prohibited from obtaining a Supply of water from any source except Saginaw bay, and from entering into any contract, or in any manner pledging the credit of the city for a greater amount than the sum placed to their account, and to be known as the waterworks fund. As only the proceeds of the sale of the $118,000 bonds were as yet available, it became evident that it would be impracticable to complete an intake from the bay with the money of this bond issue, and in August, 1872, the city council adopted an amendment granting the board authority to make connection with the river for an emergency supply. The board then let the contract for connecting the receiving wells with the river by means of an eighteen-inch wood pipe. This pipe was made of hitc pine staves two inches thick and four inches wide, dressed to proper form to make a round pipe, and banded with elm bands two inches wide and about one-quarter thick, of sufficient length to pass twice around the pipe. The bands were secured by galvanised iron nails driven into each stave on each lap of the band. The pipe was made up in sections front eight feet to twelve feet long, the sections being joined by a mortice and tenon joint with three-inch lap. This pipe remained in service until 1896, when it was taken up and replaced by a thirty-inch pipe made from tamarack staves three and one-half inches thick and four inches wide, in substantially the same manner as the eighteeninch pipe it replaced, except that, instead of wooden bands, the pipe was banded with iron, wound round the pipe spirally in the same manner as the Wyckoff pipe. The pipe taken out after twenty-four years’ service was found in perfect condition, except for the slight interior decay which has been found to take place in all wooden pipes used for water distribution.
On August 5, 1872, a vote to issue $59,000 additional bonds for the further prosecution of the work was carried.
In November, 1872, the first contract for Wyckoff patent pipe was awarded to the North Western Gas and Water Pipe company. This contract was for about three and one-half miles of distributing mains of four, six, eight, and ten-inch diameter to be laid in trenches prepared by the city at the following prices: Four-inch, 50 cents per lineal foot; six-inch, 85 cents; eight-inch, $1.10; ten-inch, $1.50. During the same month a contract was let for pipe for the intake from the bay. This pipe was thirty inches in diameter, of white pine staves three-inch thick and six-inch wide, dressed to a proper form to make a circular pipe and banded with elm boards, three inches wide, the bands being spaced twenty-four inches between centres, and secured with galvanised iron nails, in the same manner as the eighteen-inch pipe above described. This pipe was also made in sections about eight feet long, the sections being joined by a mortice and tenon joint. The price for this pipe was $1.30 per lineal foot, delivered along the line of trench. This pipe was laid with the centre at the end in the bay seven feet below the surface of the water at its ordinary stage, and on a uniform grade, with a fall of four feet in the four miles to the receiving wells at the pumping station. The average depth of excavation was about fifteen feet, the maximum depth being about twenty-one feet. The soil in which it was laid was usually hard clay; but at two points on the line beds of sand were encountered, which extended from the surface to an unknown depth below the pipe. The total distance across these sand beds was about 1,500 feet, and where they occurred the pipe line is only about 200 feet from the river. The excavation being from eleven to twelve feet below the surface of the water in the river and the beds of sand being continuous from the trench to the river, the sand was almost of the nature of quicksand, and the contractor experienced much difficulty in laying the pipe on these sections. The intake from the bay was not completed until 1875; the supply being taken from the river from the time the pumping engines were started, in December, 1872, until that date. At the close of the year 1872 there were nearly four miles of distributing mains and thirty-three fire hydrants in service. During the year 1873, the city limits w’ere extended, two wards being added, and two members added to the board, making the number of commissioners seven, which has not since been changed, l’he term of office was made seven years, one commissioner retiring each year. On the thirteenth day of August, 1873, a favorable vote upon the question of issuing $150,000 bonds to continue the work was taken.
At the close of the year 1873 the distribution system embraced about nine miles of pipe, of which a little more than three miles was cast iron, the balance being Wyckoff pipe, with eighty-one fire hydrants. About 1,800 feet of intake from the bay had been completed early in the year, but the work had been temporarily discontinued on account of the financial troubles of that year, it being impossible to negotiate bonds. A few thousand dollars of the city bonds had been taken by the contractors who were over-anxious to proceed with their work, some of which bonds had been sold by them as low as seventy-two cents on the dollar, and this for eight per cent, bonds running thirty years. During the winter of 1873-4 a third boiler was placed in the pumping station of the same dimensions as the two originally installed; and the quadruplex engines were compounded, using one cylinder as a highpressure, and the other three as low-pressure. In the spring of 1874, the finances of the country having assumed a more healthy tone, it became possible to sell the bonds, and the work on the intake from the bay was resumed. Another issue of bonds, amounting to $50,000, was authorised on the 8th day of September, 1874. This brough the total bond issue to $377,000, all of which were eight per cent, bonds, running from sixteen to forty years. There was no further issue of bonds until 1891.
In determining the method of introducing the water at the bay some novel problems were presented. The waters of the bay are quite shallow for a long distance from the shore, being only eight feet deep at one mile out and sixteen feet at three miles out, the maximum depth of forty feet being reached about ten miles from shore. The hay is an unbroken body of water about thirty miles wide and sixty miles long, opening into lake Huron at almost its maximum width. Up this bay a northeast wind has an unbroken sweep from Georgian bay some three hundred miles. The whole bay is usually covered over its entire surface, in the winter by a heavy body of ice and, if, as is often the case, this ice breaks up in the spring with a northeast storm, the force of the driving ice is terrific. When the ice grounds, which may be anywhere from one-half mile to two miles from shore, huge piles of broken ice are heaped up, reaching from the bed of the bay to a height of thirty or forty feet above the water. In the face of these elements it seemed impracticable for the city with its limited means to construct an intake at any considerable distance from the shore which could be relied upon at all times for a supply. If the intake were located near the shore, the quality of the water was inferior, being roiled by any agitation by the wind, contaminated by the shore waters, and, in case of a heavy southwest wind the water level was often lowered fully four feet from its ordinary stage, and there would be no water within one-half mile of the shore, this condition continuing for several hours. The method adopted, and which is still in use, was to lay the pipe about 1,500 feet into the bay, when it terminated in a basin about 300 feet long and 150 feet wide, which basin was excavated to the depth of twelve feet, the earth taken from the basin being used to form an embankment round it, which was carried to a height above the highest stage of the water. The embankment was protected on the outside by a double row of piles, filled between with stone, and the inner slope was paved with brick. The water was brought into this basin through an open cut excavated to a depth of ten feet, the excavated earth forming a bank on both sides, this bank being protected in the same manner as the banks of the basin. 1’he water passes from the inlet cut into the basin through a thirty-inch cast iron pipe laid through the embankment about seven feet below the surface of the water. The intake from the bay was completed and water turned on from that source in June, 1875, since which time the city has received its supply from that point.
In 1878 the Holly rotary engine was replaced by a high-pressure piston engine, with eighteen inch by twenty-two-inch steam cylinder. This engine and the rotary pumps originally installed are still a part of the reserve force in the pumping station, and are occasionally called into service. As early as 1873 a one-inch “Navarro” meter had been procured for the purpose of testing the quantity of water used for certain purposes. This meter will be remembered by those familiar with the municipal government of New York city thirty years ago as the one for which Boss Tweed made his famous meter contract, the canceling of which contract on the downfall of the Tweed ring ruined the inventor, Jose F Navarro, and brought the manufacture of the meter to an abrupt close.
This meter was used but a few months, on account of the heads being too light to withstand the heavy pressure carried for fire service at that time, sometimes 175 pounds per square inch, but it is still preserved and often exhibited as a model of mechanical construction, and the principle upon which it ts built is approved by every mechanical engineer to whom it has been shown. In 1881, with less than 1,000 services in use, the quantity of water pumped was nearly 950,000,000 gallons—a daily average of more than two and one half millions. In August of that year, the daily average exceeded three million gallons, and it was impossible to provide adequate fire pressure. During this month the superintendent was engaged nearly every night, and sometimes all night, in testing with pressure gauge and valve key, to determine where the water was going. At that time there were twenty-three services, from four inches to eight inches in diameter, running into mill premises for fire protection, and the tests indicated that a large percentage of the water pumped was passing on to a few of these premises. At a session of the board, held on September 6, 1881, a report was made of the tests which had been conducted during the previous month, and the board was asked to authorise the purchase of a few large meters; but action was deferred and the superintendent instructed to employ an inspector to ascertain more particularly as to the waste of water on premises supplied with large services for fire protection. The inspector was employed and performed his duty faithfully, with little improvement in the conditions, and on the 1st day of November the superintendent was authorised to procure four four-inch water meters and place them as his judgment should direct, The first meter set indicated water passing through it at the rate of nearly one-half million gallons per day no water being used on the premises. The consumer, a man of the most unimpeachable integrity, was naturally enough distrustful of the accuracy of the meter, and it was only after several interviews, and in the end very determined action on the part of the water department, that he was prevailed upon to dig up his service, which was laid in made ground filled in with refuse from the sawmill, slabs, and sawdust, When it was done, no less than three sections of fourinch pipe were found burst, the water flowing away through the slabs to the river without appearing at the surface.
The fourth meter set showed nearly as bad a condition as the first, and the consumer in this case ordered the pipe shut off. It was never used afterwards, and some years later the water department learned that, while driving piles on the premises the winter previous to the setting of the meter, a pile had been driven through the four-inch water pipe, and that the fact was known at the time, not only to the employes engaged upon me worn, but also the proprietor himself. By the close of the year 1882, thirty meters had been placed, eighteen of which were on large services, three-inch or larger, and the quantity of water pumped that year was reduced to about 775,000,000 gallons. The success which attended the introduction of the first few leters, silenced, if it did not convince the opponents f the method of supplying water, and the system was gradually extended to include smaller services, until today, with nearly two and one-half times more ervices in use than there were in 1882. With be ween 900 and 1,000 meters in use, the quantity of vater pumped is only about one-third more than luring that year and only about thirteen per cent, nore than in 1881. In 1886 a tiaskill pumping engine was added to the plant. This engine has H. P. cylinders sixteen inches in diameter, L. P. cylinders hirty-two inches, pump plungers, eighteen inches, ill twenty-eight-inch stroke. During the past wilier this engine has been thoroughly overhauled.
At the south end of the city, some four miles from he pumping station, are located some large manufacturing plants. The last mile of this section was lependent upon one eight-inch pipe, and one sixnch pipe for its water supply, and these were not sufficient to furnish adequate fire protection. In 1890 one of the largest plants in that portion of the ily was destroyed by fire. A portion of this plant could have been saved with a sufficient supply of water, and the proprietors refused to rebuild unless the city would make improvements in that direction. The water department recommended that a new main pipe be laid from the pumping station to the south end of the city, to be twenty inches in diameter for two miles and sixteen inches in diameter the remainder of the distance. To afford temporary relief until the funds could be provided for laying this main, a ten-inch Wyckoff pipe was laid from the business centre. This recommendation was adopted in full, and $50,000 was voted to carry on the work. Another $25,000 loan was subsequently authorised.
The ten-inch Wyckoff main was laid in 1890, and a test demonstrated that the waterworks could supply ten good fire steamers at its terminus with sufficient pressure to throw water above the top of any building in that part of the city. The contract for furnishing the pipe for the twenty and sixteen-inch mains was let to the Addyston Pipe and Steel company, of Cincinnati, at $20.75 per net ton. About 1,900 tons of pipe were supplied under this contract. Since the completion of this main in 1892 there has been no lack of pressure for fire service in any portion of the city. The last Wyckoff pipe laid in the city distribution system was in 1893; since that time all extensions and renewals have been cast iron.
In 1893 two additional boilers were placed in the pumping station; these boilers were of the return tubular type, sixteen feet long, sixty inches in diameter, each containing forty-eight four-inch flues.
The pumping plant now consists of five boilers of the horizontal tubular type.
The engines and pumps are: One Gaskill horizontal, compound, condensing, crank, flywheel pumping engine, installed in 1886; capacity five million gallons in twenty-four hours; one Holly quadruplex crank and flywheel pumping engine; installed in 1872; capacity three million gallons in twenty-four hours; one horizontal, high-pressure, piston engine; installed in 1879; two No. 10 Holly rotary pumps; installed in 1872; capacity two and one-half million gallons in twenty-four hours. A. B. Verity was appointed engineer at the pumping station in February, 1873, and took charge in March of that year, lie has held the position without interruption since that date and it is largely due to his careful attention that the pumping machinery is in its present good condition, He has been ably seconded by his assistant, Jas. E. Darling, who has filled the position of second engineer since 1891. The total length of distributing mains in the system is forty-seven miles and 1,281 feet, of which twenty-three miles and 501 feet are cast iron, and twenty-four miles 780 feet are Wyckoff patent pipe. There are 736 valves and 430 fire hydrants. Of these forty-three have six-inch connections at base; three, two and one-half-inch hose nozzles, with gates at nozzle; the balance are double-discharge hydrants with four-inch connections at base. All hydrants have valve in pipe between main and hydrant. Two separate and independent main pipes leave the pumping station, one twenty-inch and one sixteen-inch in diameter. The sixteen-inch pipe is separated into two twelve-inch and a ten-inch soon after leaving the building. The collection department has been under the charge of Thos. A. Delzell since 1886. who also acts as assistant to the secretary and superintendent in the office work. All who have business with the office will testify to his uniformly kind and courteous treatment, as will all connected with the city government to his faithful attention to his duties. The meter department is under the direct charge of Frank H. Collins, who also acts as general assistant to the superintendent on outside work. He has been in the employ of the board since 1881, and his long service is evidence of his careful attention to the various duties which have devolved upon him. The inlet works at the hay have been under the care of Levi D. Carpenter for the past eighteen years, and it is due to his careful attcntion that the inlet cut and basin always present a neat and tidy appearance. Nothing which can contaminate the water is allowed to collect or remain in the vicinity of the intake. The long term of service f the several employes of the board is due to the fact that politics have had no influence in the direct management of the works. The members of the board are appointed by the city council, and changes have sometimes been made in the hoard for political reasons; but the appointments have always been made from among the enterprising, progressive business men of the community, and this class of men cannot remain any length of time in the position without coming to the knowledge that it iS not in the interest of the water department to run it as a part uf the political machinery of the city.
The present members of the board are: W. S. Cousins, president: B. F. Ray, R. E. Bousfield, H. E. Buck, A. H. Ingraharn. A. F. Brookman, and S. Meister. By a recent act of the legislature Mayor Frank T. Woodworth will become ex-officio a member and chairman of the board.
The total amount expended on the construction of the works to January 1, 1903. was $618,832.88. The total amount of bonds which have been issued for the construction of the works is $452,000. Of this amount St io,ooo have heeti paid and retired, and $128,000 have been refunded by the issue of bonds bearing interest at four per cent. Total amount of bonds outstanding on January 1, 1903, $342,000.