In all that pertains to the comforts and conveniences of living, American cities are without a peer. Unfortunately, not as much can be said for the average small community in this country and by that term is intended what are usually referred to as villages. Centers of population that can be appropriately grouped under this head range all the way from those having five hundred inhabitants, or even less, to three thousand or more, though in some parts of the country, the latter are sometimes classed as “cities.” It is not difficult to understand why so many of these communities have not undertaken to provide what may be termed “municipal improvements” in the past.
In proportion to their size, many of these communities spread over a much greater area than towns of considerably larger population. Their inhabitants have grown up on the farm to a large extent and have accordingly not felt the need of any better form of water supply and sanitation than each resident could supply for his own needs. Ip to comparatively recent years the installation of such mnrovements involved the use of equipment calling for a higher assessment per capita to cover its initial cost and maintenance than the property owners of such communities either cared to pay or were able to finance. This has been true of methods of water supply, while systems of sanitation for small communities have only been developed to their present state of efficiency by the adoption of the chlorination process in very recent years.
While it is true that few such communities could afford to undertake the installation of a water supply and a sewage disposal system ten or fifteen years ago, this is no longer the case. With the great advances that have been made in the past few years in both of these essentials, there is scarcely an American community today that is too small to he able to boast of both. Nor are there many villages or small towns in this country now that are so backward as not to feel the need of these improvements or that fail to realize the great benefits that their installation would mean to the life of the community. As a matter of fact, it is only necessary to note the reports constantly being received by this journal, particularly since the end of the war, to appreciate how widespread this realization is. The instance of a Minnesota town of 2,700 population that has recently voted to raise $77,000 in bonds for the installation of a water supply system is hut one of many that could he cited. Figures of this kind make clear a condition that study of the census reports amply substantiates: namely, that the per capita wealth of these communities is far greater than that of larger centers of population.
The question that confronts such a community when it decides to take this progressive step is, “What is it going to cost and how are we to go about it?” Being without experience in such matters, the Town Council or other governing board often hesitates to involve the community in expense for expert opinion or a preliminary survey that may, after all, prove to be nothing more than money wasted. It has been the function of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING for more than 40 years past to advance the interests of its field in every possible way and, in line with this progressive policy, it has now been decided to extend its service further than has ever been attempted by a technical journal.
If your community is desirous of installing a modern water supply, a system of sanitation, or both, FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING will send an engineer to go over the ground and make a preliminary report, the only condition being that his traveling expenses to and from your town to New York, he borne by the community. This journal has nothing whatever to sell, is not wedded to any particular system of either water supply or sanitation and has no interest in any manufacturer’s product, so that you can rely upon the report submitted being entirely impartial and unbiased. Moreover, it is offering to bear at least half, if not more than that fraction, of the expense, since an engineer’s charges for the time consumed would often exceed the cost of traveling. For the time being, this offer is limited to the New England and Atlantic States, but if it proves to he the success that seems assured, this constructive service will he extended to other parts of the country.
Xo progressive community need hesitate to consider the installation of water supply and sanitation today on the ground that it “cannot afford city improvements.” Money for the initial cost is easily raised by a bond issue and such bonds are eagerly sought as an investment by the large insurance companies, so that they always find a ready market. Thus, little or none of the original outlay need be financed directly by the community itself should it so desire, though the bonds are equally as good an investment for the people directly benefited by the improvement as they are for the large financial interests in the big cities. By establishing a sinking fund and making the bonds redeemable in series, a few being taken up each year, the entire investment may be liquidated in a comparatively few years through the medium of such small annual payments that the project may be financed without any member of the community being burdened. Meanwhile, the system may be made not only self-supporting but remunerative to a degree where it will provide its own funds for future expansion. Indirectly, water supply and sanitary systems will more than return their first cost to any progressive community in a few years. First, in the great reduction in the cost of fire insurance alone, since the fire protection afforded would cut thousands of dollars off the annual premiums now paid. Second, in the greatly improved health of the community, and third, in the increased real estate valuations that come with such improvements. Write FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING for further information.