LABORATORIES FOR WATERWORKS

LABORATORIES FOR WATERWORKS

The subject of the purification of water as a sanitary measure is attracting greater attention every day, and, in order that the water used for domestic purposes may be of such a nature as literally to bring down to an irreducible minimum the possibilities of contamination and, therefore, of waterborne disease, it is necessary for cities and boroughs, and, where these prove apathetic in the matter, for the State to take means and to agitate for the adoption of every method, not only to prevent the discharge of polluting water into the sources of water supply, but, also, to find out by the analysis of every supply if it contains any unwholesome ingredients that would prove hurtfu_____ to the community. These need not be the result of sewage-discharge: they may be the products of soils in districts far removed from any possibility of contamination from such a source and. if taken into the human system, may lie productive of disease and death. This is especially likely in the case of water that runs through mining districts or is obtained front swampy lands. Such waters to the eye, to taste and smell may seem fit to drink, and yet there may lurk in them seeds of a most deadly description. Or it may be that, while the source of a supply is most carefully guarded and its watershed kept under most rigid surveillance, the water itself, although apparently pure enough, may have become contaminated by the entrance of surface-water by percolation or through a leaky joint or other opening when the main is under pressure. That is to say (to quote from the words of ;m officer of a state board of health). “It is possible that the main leading from the pumping station to the lifter plant is leaky, and that surfacedrainage finds its way into the pipe, and this would account for the presence of a larger number of bacteria at the filtration plant than at the pumping station.” It follows, therefore, that the same thing may occur in the case of the water that has been duly filtered and, in consequence, may be looked upon as wholesome. Hence, when some water-borne disease suddenly breaks out and becomes epidemic in a certain district in a city whose water has been subjected to most rigid filtration, while other districts in the same city that use the same water are free from the attacks of the disease, it will be clearly seen that in that case, as in others where no apparent cause for the trouble can be detected, there is need of a careful examination of the water, and, where possible, its surroundings. It may likewise follow that where water may nc perfectly wholesome for drinking purposes, it may he of such a quality—so hard, for example, as to render it unfit for use in laundries, or so overcharged with lime, iron and other mineral matter as to be unfit for use in dyeworks or for steam boilers. Mistakes in these matters have been made that have proved costly to those who in times past have erected factories, installed batteries of boilers, or built storage-tanks, or sunk wells for the supply of locomotives only to discover that the water was unfit for the uses intended. To a somewhat less degree that has also been the case with the supplies of water for do mestic purposes, with evil effects resulting to the community. In many cases the evil is not discoverable except by analysis, and, where there is a pubic .water supply, the analysis should he carried OR and the water tested, if possible, day by day, as is the case in some cities, certainly once a week. In the case of an intention to build factories or works calling for the use of water free front certain hurtful ingredients, or the use of steam for the boilers or locomotives, recourse should first be had to analysis of the .water, both qualitative and quati litative, the first, to see whether or not certain Imrtfttl ingredients are present in the water; the second, to determine whether or not these ingredients are present in sufficient quantity to prove hurtful to boilers or the products of the works. This can he effected most easily by causing samples,of the water to be taken sealed up itt sterile retainers and forwarded to the State authorities, to some State university or to some private or semipublic laboratories where such analyses are made by experts. Their report will be made once and for all and will settle the question of the fitness of the water for this or that purpose. In the case of town and city supplies, however, the matter stands on an entirely different footing. The question is not as to the pecuniary loss that may be incurred by the use of a water that contains ingredients hurtful for manufacturing or other purposes, which can be carried on elsewhere or given up altogether at the will of those concerned. In the case of a domestc supply, the health, the very lives, perhaps, of hundreds of thousands of people, to whom water is a necessary of everyday existence, may be at stake. Hence, the necessity of constant tests of the water, into which at any moment may enter disease-bearing germs that may prove hurtful and fatal to hundreds and thousands of innocent victims. Everyday experience has proved that water-borne diseases may suddenly, from some unlooked for cause, appear in a supply, even one that is filtered, which has always been looked upon as free from contamination. The recent outbreak of typhoid fever at Peekskill is a case in point, while those at Scranton, Pa., Ithaca, and on the line of the Croton supply in Westchester county, N. Y., show how easily unsuspected sources of pollution may infect a watershed and cause disease and death. For these reasons, therefore, it stands to reason that attached to every large city supply should be a testing laboratory, where at very frequent intervals (in some cases the matter is looked to daily), the supply should be subjected to frequent tests; in the smaller cities and towns samples of the water should be submitted at certain intervals for sanitary analysis to the State hoard of health, the State university or some wellknown chemist and bacteriologist, especially after freshets or long continued spells of drought, or where there is knowledge of any new source of pollution having arisen or been established, especially in the way of laborers’ camps, as in the Croton valley or in the neighborhood of Ithaca, N. Y., or when any new factory or sewerage system on the banks of a river or lake or near the watershed has made its appearance. The examination should be chemical, bacteriological and microscopical. Professor J. M. Caird, the wellknown expert analyst of Troy, N. Y.. recommends that in the case of all sanitary analyses of a water the “samples should be collected in sterile retainers, and. if possible, the chemist should collect the samples and at the same time become familiar with the source from whence they come.” He points out that waters are sometimes condemned without sufficient reason—for instance, because the chlorine or nitrogen contents are high—”a very dangerous procedure, because the water may have come from near the coast or a salt deposit, or may be highly colored with vegetable matter, and still otherwise be free from contamination. It is. therefore, readily seen that the analyst cannot have too much information as to the source of the sample of water tinder examination.” In the case of laboratories attached as for instance at Chicago, Lorain, Ohio, Oneonta, N. Y., Madison, Wis., Buffalo, and New York city’, such knowledge would he presupposed in the analyst, and it may readily he understood that with such analysts as those at Columbia University, the Rockefeller Institute in New York city, or Prof. Caird and men of his calibre, all the necessary directions for collecting the samples and giving the exact details as to the conditions under which they’ were taken would be furnished to the applicants. Kvery case could be treated separately and carefully and compared with former cases that have before come under the analyst’s purview. “Too much care (says Prof. Caird) cannot be exercised in making a water analysis, and special rooms should be provided for different deter initiations, so that the water does not absorb the fumes that might be in the air, if all of the work were performed in a general laboratory. The accompanying cuts will convey a fair idea of the care with which the analysis of water is conducted in a laboratory such as has been re ferred to ED. R.

J. M. CAIRD. Analyst and Chemist.AMMONIA AND C. P. WATERROOM. CAIRD LABORATORY.SHEPARD T. POWELL, Chief Analyst with James M. Caird.STERILISATION AND INCUBATION ROOM.

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A CORNER IN THE CAIRD LABORATORY. TROY.GENERAL VIEW OF MAIN ROOM IN LABORATORY.OPERATING ROOM AND LABORATORY Oneonta, N. Y.

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