Chicago and the Water Meter

Chicago and the Water Meter


The Journal of the Western Society of Engineers recently contained a paper on “The Chicago Water Works, by John Ericson, city engineer of Chicago, in which he treated the water meter to consiuerable extent. In part, he said:

“Chicago in 1950 will have a population of 5,150,000. The consumption of water per capita has increased from 43 gallons in 1803 to 203 gallons in 1912, or about 160 gallons in 50 years. If we assume the increase in the future at half the rate of the past, we will have in 1950 a per capita consumption of 263 gallons. This will require a daily pumpage of 1,350,000,000 gallons, or, in other words, the present enormous system must be more than doubled in thirtyeight years. Nearly fifteen years ago the author commenced a series of careful investigations to determine the use and abuse of the water supply of Chicago, and has since endeavored to pome out the advisability of conservation and the restriction of the waste and leakage or our water supply. The best and generally approved method for this purpose is the installation of water meters, a method that has proved economical and satisfactory in Europe and in those American cities where it has been adopted. A statement showing the water meters installed during August and September, 1911, was prepared, and about a year later a careful comparison was made showing the effect on rates of the installation of these meters. They were 261 in number of ⅝-inch to 8-inch size, and were set on all classes of service and in all parts of the city. They included saloons, foundries, railway stations. residences, laundries, buildings with hydraulic cellar drainers, hotels, factories, garages, milk depots, greenhouses, fish markets, office buildings, warehouses, apartment buildings, etc. Where the difference was obtained, 124 premises showed an increase and 56 showed a decrease in the bills by the installation of meters. The total of the excess meter rates for six months amounts to $2,885. The total of decreases, by reason of setting meters, for a period of six months, amounts to $495, making a net increase of $2,390, or $4,780 as the annual compensation for the setting of these meters. These figures indicate that if the placing of meters is judiciously made, irrespective of a decrease in pumpage. the city’s revenues will be increased rather than diminished. In spite of the campaign for a restriction of leakage and waste, and in spite of the economy and satisfaction that water meters have given in other cities, so much opposition to this method is met with in Chicago that only about 0 per cent, of the service pipes have so far been metered. Designs for municipal water meters have lately been perfected in the office of the city engineer, and sample meters made from these designs are now being tried. It is expected that, as soon as these meters have proved satisfactory on trial and have been adopted as standard the installation of meters on a much larger scale will be connected. One of the important reasons why Chicago has to pump such great quantities of water and why there is always such urgent necessity to build additional tunnels and pumping stations is the failure to adopt rational methods of water-waste prevention. An argument often beard is that we liave an inexhaustible supply of water right at our doors, and that the water should be as free and abundant as the air we breathe. If this excessive pumpage would benefit the people there would be nothing to say about it. But, as a matter of fact, the wasted water does no one any good, and when escaping into the ground it often becomes a detriment rather than a benefit. When it is considered that the cost for coal alone to pump the many million gallons of water in Chicago is now about $450,000 per year, it will be seen that by reducing the per capita consumption from 203 to 120 gallons per day. which amount should be sufficient for any city, a saving from this item alone would amount to nearly $200,000 per year.”

Superintendent Charles G. Revelle, of the Missouri Insurance Department has decided to divide the State into 30 fire prevention districts and hold meetings in each during the next year. He will co-operate with the Missouri Fire Prevention Association in this work. Mr. Revelle has announced that he will attend each meeting and Governor Major also has promised to he on hand at as many as possible. Fire insurance companies have been asked to help out in a systematic campaign in Missouri.

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