METERAGE AT READING, PA.
In a report to the board of water commissioners of Reading for 1905, attention is called to the high rate of daily per-capita consumption—124.4 gallons, which is an increase over that of 1904 of 4.9 gallons, and of twenty-three gallons within five years past. The report says that ninety gallons per capita should suffice for all wants, and reasons that there must be a loss of water or unnecessary waste somewhere. “The total meter registration (it adds), which includes all large consumers in the city, nearly all of the taps upon business property, and 440 of the strictly domestic service taps, shows a consumption of 1,135,897,510 gallons, which is about 253,212,156 gallons less than last year, and this, with an addition of 161 meters. Although the high per-capita consumption is possibly due to over-registration on the Venturi meters on the supply mains, some to slip in the pumps, and some to evaporation and seepage from the distributing reservoirs, there still remains the fact that it is higher than it should be. The only other cause would be leakage in the fixtures of the unmetered consumers, the private service pipes or the distributing mains. Some may even be due to the surreptitious use of the water by unscrupulous people, which of course would be unaccounted for. Jt is intended to study the situation more closely the coming year, and the meter data to be kept will aid thereon. Hut there is other work necessary to be done to ascertain if the loss is due to the latter causes, which will make considerable expense, and for which is recommended an appropriation as earh as possible. That the expense will be more than repaid in the information it will afford, the saving in consumption, and, consequently, in coal bills, is a foregone conclusion. If a per-capita consumption of ninety gallons is a legitimate and fair allowance, and our supply could be reduced to that, the annual saving, based on the figures of the present year, would be 1,061,055,000 gal Ions of water, and $3,183.16 in money, figured al cost to deliver to the consumer.” As to the metered service: The efficiency and aid of the meters in “determining what a daily per-capita consumption should be, and where the leakeage 01 waste may exist and its value as a basis for calculating the demands of the future in extensions and enlargements of the waterworks plant, are strong arguments for their universal use. The situation shown by the foregoing statement upon the per-capita consumption leaves no doubt in the mind of the actual necessity for metering the domestic service, if economy in consumption and consequently in construction and operation expenses is to be considered. The policy now should be to keep the consumption to a legitimate basis, thereby avoiding as long as possible further expenditure in additional pumping machinery and unnecessary filtering area in the proposed Maiden creek filters.” The metered service has been divided into three classes, as follows—viz.; In the manufacturing service are included all properties on which water is used for any manufacturing purpose, whether for steam or other uses applicable to manufacturing; all manufacturing consumers metered separately from any building; all attachments for railroad purposes, electric or steam power plants, and other consumers using large quantities of water and not specially classified herein. In the general business or mercantile service are included all hotels, saloons, stores, restaurants, or saloon and restaurant combined, department stores, office buildings, public buildings of all kinds, swimming pools, public baths, hospitals, schools, printing establishments, apartment houses with restaurant attached. barbering establishments, butchering and slaughter houses, livery stables, cemeteries, churches and cemeteries and any other attachment used for general business purposes not specially classified herein. In the domestic service are included dwellings having hydrant, bath, watercloset, washbasin, hosenozzle, wash-pave or either. Buildings combined as store and dwelling, with but one hydrant for the store and any of the above fixtures or taps, classed in this service. Buildings used as dwellings and in which water may be used in a small way for other than domestic and power purposes not classified, are included in the domestic service, as also apartment houses for dwelling purposes only. There are now 240 meters in the manufacturing service, or ninety per cent, of the taps; 507 upon the mercantile service, or about sixty per cent, of the taps; 443 upon the domestic service, or about three per cent, of the taps, and ninety upon the free service. At the beginning of the fiscal year each of the properties which had been receiving water free was supplied with a meter at the cost of the city, and a record of the consumption made. This has been designated the “Free Service.” The quantity consumed on the several free properties and its value is as follows : The Reading school district—all public school buildings, quantity 12,000,000 gallons, value, $1,192.19; the city of Reading—fire engine houses, quantity 4,565,250 gallons, value, $1,000.31 ; the city of Reading—Cityhall, Public library, water department offices, quantity 4,193,500 gallons, value, $565.72; the city of Reading—Sewage disposal pumping station, for condensing purposes, quantity 43.913,000 gallons, value, $1,342.72; charitable institutions, quantity 18,028,000 gallons, value, $912.32—a total value for metered water of $5,013.26; value of water for park purposes (estimated), $350; value of water for highway and sewer purposes, $500; fire hydrant rental 858 hydrants, at $25, $21,450—total $26,313.26, and a total registration of 82,160,320 gallons. A number of meters have been placed upon varied services for test or experimental purposes, with a view to acquiring data useful in making up the rates. There is now a total of 1,306 meters in use, 161 thereof having been added the past year. There was a decrease in the revenue from meters of $5,166.30, compared with the previous year. The average revenue for water sold by meter measurement was $0.0491 per 1,000 gallons. As to private fire service: There is an increasing demand for attachments to the main pipes for private fire protection, with the use of the city pressure upon the fire lines on private property. It is recommended that action should be taken upon some regulation for granting and controling such services. Under free service water comes the City sewage pumping station, which is using an exceptionally large quantity of water, amounting in some months to nearly 4,000.000 gallons. This water is being used for condensing steam from the pumps. The Schuylkill river passing close to the pumoing station, into which a pipe could be extended, will furnish all the water needed for such purposes in the future. The cost of this work would not exceed $1,000, with practically no expense for maintenance. The value of the water so used during the past year was $1,372.19 at actual cost to the department, and each year as the demands for sewage disposal grow is likely to see this amount increase. To dispense with the condensers on these pumps and discharge the steam against the atmospheric pressure, and secure the same efficiency would require twenty-five per cent, more coal, at an additional cost of about $625, based on the coal bills for a year. Not only from a pecuniary view is this use of water objectionable and wasteful, but from a practical standpoint, as it draws so large a quantity of water from the low service supply as to require the filtered Antietam water of the intermediate service to lie turned into the low service, and that quantity in turn pumped into the intermediate service from the Maiden creek. The board of public works, in charge of the sewage station, has-been asked to discontinue this waste, but has not shown any disposition to do so. The situation is serious enough to warrant some early action on the part of the water board to improve it.