Beautify the Water Works—It’s Good Business
Altogether Aside from Esthetic View of Question, Which Is Also Important—Handsome Buildings and Grounds Create Favorable Impression in the Minds of the Consumers
FROM whatever angle you view it, Mr. Superintendent, the ideas of this author are worthy of consideration. It is just as easy and much more pleasant to build your water works structures after artistic and graceful designs as to erect a four-sided box, with walls and roof square and unornamented. It is much more gratifying to see your water works grounds laid out in paths, roadways, lawns and flowerbeds, than to leave it a barren waste of dry earth, surrounding unsightly buildings, and decorated by discarded and rusty machinery, stones, bricks and rubbish. Mr. McDonnell’ s paper is well worth studying.
If a man left off his collar and tie and presented himself before the citizens for their approval, his actions would be condemned and even his sanity would be questioned, yet this failure or oversight to make a water plant presentable to its citizens is a common occurrence.
It is almost impossible to over-dress or over-do the beautifying of water works grounds. Your first impression of a water plant, like your first impression of an individual, is gained from appearances and may be favorable or unfavorable. The water plant does not exist or succeed that can afford to ignore public opinion. Without favorable opinion, it is almost impossibe to make one hundred per cent, collections, difficult to enforce regulations, and useless to attempt the raising of funds for extensions or rehabilitation.
Many Water Works Have No Artistic Treatment
Out of approximately 6,000 water plants in the United States, it is a safe estimate that half of them have no ornamentation or artistic treatment of the grounds and the appearances are such that public opinion is unfavorable concerning the works. About eighty per cent, of all water expenditures are for wells, mains, conduits, services, meters, and other underground structures, consequently, the buildings and grounds constitute a relatively small expenditure in comparison with their importance from the standpoint of the visitor. The entire water plant is judged by the appearance of that part visible to the layman.
“It is almost impossible to over-dress or over-do the beautifying of water works grounds. Your first impression of a water plant, like your first impression of an individual, is gained from appearances and may be favorable or unfavorable. The water plant does not exist or succeed that can afford to ignore public opinion. Without favorable opinion, it is almost impossible to make one hundred per cent, collections, difficult to enforce regulations, and useless to attempt the raising of funds for extensions or rehabilitation.”
Beautification a Wise Expenditure
If the grounds are clean, well kept, artistic, and pleasing to the eye, the whole plant instantly receives favorable approval. The money spent in beautification of the grounds is a wise expenditure and a good advertisement for the entire city, for cities are judged by their water supplies. The health record of a city is an indication of the kind of water supply it has.
The safety and purity of a water supply is often judged by the external appearance of the reservoirs and surroundings. A feeling of security of health is assured when buildings and grounds are immaculate in appearance. Even the smallest plant can afford a few flower beds, shrubbery, and perhaps a little pool or fountain. 1 sometimes think women would make better water officials than men, their artistic temperament is more highly developed and they would at least apply their good house-keeping principles to the grounds and station.
Some cities have either located their stations in city parks, or park departments have taken over the grounds as a part of the park work. South Bend, Ind., has its principal station in Riverside Park and the architecture of the buildings and character of improvements were designed in keeping with the surroundings. The St. Louis water works surroundings are very elaborate, consisting of fountains, pools, shaded paths and beautiful drives, making it one of the show places of our larger American Cities. Rochester, N. Y., has in its water reservoir a fountain that adds to that city’s fame and reputation and is long remembered by visitors. Our ancient aqueducts, with their graceful vine-covered arches, were structures of beauty, but with the advent of pumping machinery and pipe lines in their places, we are not seeing as many pleasing water structures as formerly existed.
No one ever questions the wisdom of this expenditure for beautification. It pays for the small town as well as the large city. It is good advertising and good business for the superintendent, the mayor, the water board, and the city and its does the consulting engineer no harm to leave his job with an attractive appearance, as well as an efficient works.
(Excerpts from paper read before the Southwest Water Works Association’s annual convention. Mr. McDonnell showed several slides illustrative of good and bad examples in the treatment or neglect of water works, some of the best of which are reproduced in this article.)