FRESH WATER FOR KEY WEST.
It has been found necessary to take immediate steps to secure an additional supply of fresh water at Key West, Fla., especially for the purposes of the expedition to Cuba. Arrangements have been made to charter two of the large oilcarrying vessels of the Standard Oil Company, with a capacity of 1,000,000 gallons. The supply is carried in the oil tanks which have been cleaned and purified for the purpose. It was full time, as the problem of water supply at Key West is a serious one to solve, even with the aid of the Government condenser which is promised to supply 40,000 gallons daily. Key West’s water resources are most primitive and limited. Every one is afraid to drink water from several shallow wells in town, all being more or less brackish and under suspicious surface drainage. Two companies, at various times, have driven artesian wells t,800 and 2,300 feet deep, but they have never secured fresh water. The town lives by cisterns and rain barrels, and the latter are only a shade less unhealthful than the wells. These cisterns are filled during the rainy season, and usually run very low by the close of the dry season, which is due now. This year, in addition to the rain coming very late, the town has practically had its population doubled by the presence of troops, ships and war vessels, and the army of newspaper correspondents and their tugs, which vessels take water by the thousand gallons for their boilers ar.d crews. Of course, the war vessels and some of the hospital and other craft have condensers; but the draw on the town’s supply is still abnormal. The torpedo boats have no condensing apparatus, and they have been scouting for fresh water. Every discovery of a fresh cistern is hailed like the striking of a Klondyke.and every gallon of water has three purchasers, all with money and anxious to outbid each other. Under these citcumstanccs it is not astonishing that water has advanced from one and one half cents to ten cents a gallon within the past two months. All who can afford it, that is to say, the newspaper correspondents and the officers,drink bottled water; and a dearth of this supply is approaching. Most of tne unpretentious brands of bottled water sell for $1 a gallon, and * live” water is fifteen cents a pint, by the hundred bottles. To make matters worse, the drug stores have let their supply of water run out before telegraphing for more, and there is a corner on water between the grocery store, hotel, and the Cuban club. The Government reservoir at the naval station, from which the engine room is supplied, contains less than 2,0JO galions of water, and it is reported among the dispatch boats that there is less than i.coo gallons of rain water available in town, and this supply is of veiy poor quality.