Kansas City Water-Works.
THE water-works officials and the people of Kansas City are engaged in a red-hot battle over the question of the right of the city to construct new water works independent of all considerations involved in the contract between the water-works and the city. It appears from recent developments that the report of the engineers employed by the city authorities is criticised by engineers employed by some prominent citizens of Kansas City. The names of the engineers are A. Fteley of New York city, Chas. H. Ledlie, St. Louis ; Henry Flad, St. Louis; C. H. Meyers of New York, and Peter Milne of Brooklyn.
L. H. Gardner, superintendent of the New Orleans Water Company, and a man of experience and observation, has also written an opinion in response to the inquiry.
The form of inquiry was as follows: “Dear Sirs—The undersigned citizens of Kansas City beg to send herewith a copy of the report of a commission of October 24, 1891, on the subject of a complete system of water-works for the city, and would thank you to give your views as to its merits and reilability relating to the suggestions therein made, both in relation to cost and plan or system.”
The drift of professional opinion expressed by these gentlemen is to the effect that the estimates for the proposed new water-works are low in price ; that essential features associated with engineering work of this character have been omitted in the estimate, as well as contingent expenses that are inevitable, and of necessity must be considered in all engineering work due to tunneling under a river.
The concurrent opinion of the gpntlemen named shows that the estimate of (he engineers employed by the city of Kansas, viz., $2,000,000, is far below what it ought to be. In the formulation features of these expressed opinions it was not either intended to reflect upon the character of the gentlemen composing the commission in that they purposely estimated a low figure for the construction of the proposed works or that they did not know of the character of the work as contemplated. Professionally engineers have a right to differ as to estimates. The only method to determine who is right and nearer the mark is the figure of what similar work did actually cost.
They also have the right to differ on the question of plans, and the rule will apply in this case as follows : Is there in water-works administration a practical, successful, economical, similar one in conception with the plan now proposed for Kansas City anywhere in active operation, with a range of pressure necessary to a height of from twentyfive to 455 feet above low water mark of the Missouri river, exercised upon the plan of distribution and as extensive as contemplated ?
After all that may be said upon this subject one thing remains, namely, that experience in engineering matters ought to obtain in preference to inexperience.
ASSISTANT CHIEF MURPHY of Baltimore, Md., has been reduced on the ground of being “ notoriously incompetent.” The qualifying adjective is applied, no doubt, to add contempt to the stigma of relegation. The affair smacks of politics and cannot hurt Mr. Murphy. If the assistant chief was merely incompetent—if his selection for the position had proven an error of judgment, his being quietly and unostentatiously reduced would have awakened no distrust. To brand him “notoriously incompetent ” only evidences, if the statement is true, that the fire commissioners are flagrantly derelict in their duty and should be removed. Any man who is notoriously incompetent should not be permitted in the department. Mayor Latrobe, in whose fairness and good jugdment we have every confidence, ought to interest himself in this case, and find out whether the Monumental City is gradually passing over to political bossism.