Growth of the Water Meter.
That water meters are rapidly demonstrating their practicability is evidenced by the fact that nearly 3,000,000 of them are already in use in this country, and every day adds thousands to this number. About 325,000 water meters were sold in the United States last year, according to a conservative estimate. One of the leading manufacturers is selling about eight times as many meters to-day as 14 years ago. From this it will be noted that the manufacturers of water meters are making considerable headway. Educational methods are required to sell water meters. City governments and water companies have to be shown that the installation of water meters works a saving for both themselves and the consumers. Water meters were introduced many years ago, but it is only lately that they have really been coming into their own. In the future it is expected by manufacturers that their use will increase rapidly as cities grow larger and tax the capacity of their water supply systems. European cities used water meters before they were successfully introduced in the United States. In London, England, meters are generally used. The meters differ a great deal in construction from those in this country, being of a more delicate nature, more expensive and registering the supply of water which passes through with almost unfailing accuracy, in London, however, the minimum charge, which prevails in most American cities, is virtually unknown. Water users in London are charged for the actual water consumed, but the minimum charge basis in this country protects the waterworks from meters which tail to register correctly. Taking the city of Chicago as an example, where only about 16,000 meters are in use out of a total of about 300,000 services, manufacturers say that the general use of water meters by all consumers in the city of Chicago would make the present water supply system adequate for the next 50 years. Owing to the excessive waste of water by consumers who do not pay meter rates, the city of Chicago is now considering the installation of a high pressure water system at an enormous cost. Universal metering prevails in some of the large cities of the country, in Cleveland and Milwaukee all water is charged for on the meter basis. In some cities and towns where the water supply is controlled by private corporations, these concerns are prohibited by law from charging anything but a “flat rate” for water without the consent or the consumer. In frequent instances these companies have been able to persuade some of the consumers that the installation of a meter would bring about a saving and consumers have demonstrated this fact to their complete satisfaction. The meters manufactured and used in this country are less expensive than those used in England. Good meters made in this country are sold easily in many foreign countries in competition with those of foreign manufacture. John C. Kelly, now president of the National Meter Company. New York, is supposed to have introduced one of the first successful water meters in the United States. This was about 45 years ago. It was what is known as a current meter, which has long since been superseded by other types. In later years the Hersey Manufacturing Company. Boston, and the Union Meter Company, Worcester, Mass., put on the market what is known as the rotary style of water meter, and the Henry R. Worthington Company, now a part of the International Steam Pump Company, followed at an even later date with a piston meter. Some of the early styles of meters still are in use and giving good satisfaction, but the style most used to-day is the disc piston type It is estimated by a manufacturer that 90 per cent, of all meters now used in domestic service are of this latter type. John Thomson, of New York, a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, is credited with having brought to light the disc-piston type of meter. This was more than 20 years ago. He organized the Water Wasle Prevention Company, of New York, and its manufacture was begun. The name of the concern was changed to the Thomson Meter Company, and Brooklyn was its headquarters. A few years later Mr. Thomson severed his connection with the concern which still bears his name and organized the Neptune Meter Company, of New York. Concerns well known as manufacturers of water meters are the following: The Neptune Meter Company, New York; the National Meter Company, New York; the Pittsburg Meter Co., Pittsburg; the Thomson Meter Company, Brooklyn; the Hersey Manufacturing Company, Boston; the Buffalo Meter Company, Buffalo, and Union Meter Company, Worcester, Mass. One of the greatest difficulties with which water meter manufacturers have had to contend is the extreme tendency of meters to prove very troublesome during the winter. Manufacturers have been experimenting with frostproof meters and in a few instances meters have been placed on the market that are virtually guaranteed against serious damage in case of freezing. With modern heating the danger from freezing is being reduced to a minimum, however, and the future of the water meter business seems brilliant.