DULUTH’S FIRST YEAR’S EXPERIENCE OF MUNICIPAL OWNERSHIP
AT Duluth, Minn., an ordinance was passed last year creating the department of water and light. It was considered a doubtful experiment, but the experience of the first year has proved its wisdom. The twelvemonth just passed has been a trying one, not only because it was the first year, but also because the expenses of the commissioners had been materially increased by their conditions and the arrangements necessary to the supplying of water from Lakewood and the abandonment of the Endion and Lakeside stations, the beginning of the work of replacing about eleven miles of worn-out kalomine water and gas mains in the system, and the reduction of income consequent upon the reduction of both gas and water rates (in the latter case it amounted to $7,400). Notwithstanding these adverse conditions, the department has paid all its expenses, and closed the year with a balance surplus of earnings of $25,000. The total receipts havebeen $125,172.90, of which $42,170.87 was derived from water meter rates; $34,222.93 from annual water rates; $1,442.92 from deposits on meters; $2,185.65, from meters ; $937.73, from service extensions ; $16,365. from hydrant rentals; and $319.52 from miscellaneous sources connected with water. The total expenditure connected with the water division of the department was $25,865.82, of which $10,467 56 was spent on the pumping works, and $3, l 5 17 on construction. The annual interest on bonds is $111,000. This, however, is actually paying for construction, whereas, as Supt. Case shows,
L. N. CASE.
the paying for construction from water rates is paying for it on the basis of the quantity of water used, whereas the cost of construction is very largely upon the basis of the valuation of properties. For instance: Suppose an extension of 1,200 feet is to be laid, with forty household consumers thereon. A generous supply would be 875 gallons for each per day, or 15,000 gallons for the forty consumers; or, adding fifty ier cent, for maximum supply, would be fifteen ana six-tenths gallon per minute. Were this all that would be required, a very small pipe would be adequate, but a protection from fires must be provided, and one fire stream will discharge about 150 gallons per minute, or nearly ten times as much as the ordinary consumption, the expense for which would be paid on the basis of the valuation of the property protected. The expense of laying pipe in front of unoccupied projerties. in order to reach occupied portions, is another reason why a portion of the expenses f r construction should come from the property of a community. Another reason, and a very strong one, is the fact that construction is never on the basis of present consumption. More than half of it is “for the future,” and “th° future” of Duluth is present with us today in the shape of vacant property, and should certainly bear its share of the expense that it causes. The objection that this will increase the taxes, which are already burdensome, is not tenable. as for every dollar imposed upon the occupied properties there will be a reduction in water rates of at least two dollars, and the interests of occupied pr perties in a community are the only ones to conserve. Take care of the occupied properties and the unoccupied will take core of themselves I have entered largely into this question because 1 wish to recommend that steps be taken to secure an appropriation from the general tax levy of at least twenty-five per cent , and fifty per cent, if possible, of the fixed charges for the operation and maintenance of this department. With this accomplished, the rates could be reduced one-half, which I am confident would have a material effect on thecommercial prosperity of our city
Among the improvements suggested are the following: Equipping the engines with quick-closing throttles and automatic stops connected to governors, to provide against a possible break in the force-main between pumps and reservoir; and equipping the engines with air-chambers on the force-main in close proximity to the pumps, which will prevent any jarring or pounding, and thereby decrease materially the wear of the pumps as well as increase their economy. The head pumped against equals one hundred and twelve pounds; the aggregate pumpage for the six months ending June 1899 was 768,576,791 gallons; head pumped against equals one hundred and twelve pounds (all but 40,000,000 gallons in January pumped from Lakewood); average daily pumpage, 4,099,000 gallons; average cost per million gallons $3.03, coal consumed 3,852,083 pounds, costing $2,835.61; average number of gallons to each pound of coal, 231 There is 233,645 feet (forty miles, 1,375 feet) of water pipe, three-inch to forty-two-inch, of which 169,863 feet is cast iron (none forty-two inch); 28,512, kaloinine (three-inch to twelve-inch); 33,000, steel (forty-two-inch), and 2,320, wrought iron (three-inch). Further extensions of 4,696 feet of water mains are being made, and the replacement of over 800 feet with ten-inch water mains is ordered. Duluth has every reason to be satisfied with its first year’s experiment in municipal ownership, under the able management of Superintendent L. N. Case, whose first effort has been
to make the service agreeable and cheap for the people and, second, to persuade the people to patronize their own industry. * * * The department has accomplished its first effort, but the results of the second have been unsatisfactory. The people have not taken hold of this, their own enterprise, as they should, and serious opposition has been met with when it was little to be expected. I think I may say, however, that “things are coming our way.” and that we are going to make a success of this business.