Meters for Philadelphia

Meters for Philadelphia

By an overwhelming majority the Philadelphia councils have passed the permissive water meter ordinance, the meter rate to be 4 cents pr 1,000 gallons, with a minimum charge of $5 per year. Up to the present time only 1,700 meters have liven installed by the city. Those placed in private houses have shown an average consumption of about 40 gallons per capita, as against an average consumption (unmetered) of 200 gallons per capita. The water rent per dwelling house, therefore, would be reduced from $14 or $10 to $0 per year. The mayor in his message recommending meterage calls the “permissive ordinance” a “step in the right direction” which “will not have any appreciable effect upon the finances of the city. It will simply make it possible for those citizens who wish to co-operate with the authorities in cutting down the water waste to do so and to profit thereby. As there is but a small appropriation for the purchase of water meters, only a small number of such meters can be installed at this time. Even the largest number which it is possible to secure under this legislation will not be sufficient to show a material effect upon the city’s revenues. It is the general opinion of the officials of the bureau of water and other experts whom we have consulted that ultimately there will be an increase in the net revenue over the present operation of our water plant. The decided increase in typhoid fever eases during the last week is another reason why we should prevent the wasteful use of filtered water. It has come to my notice in many instances that imperfectly filtered water has escaped faucets and has had to be used, to the detriment of the health of a number of our citizens.” Some eight years ago councils forbade the installation of meters by the city. The majority of the business men and business men’s clubs were in favor of the passage of this “permissive ordinance,” and in answer to the statement that the public revenue would be reduced by the placing of meters, pointed out that the suggestion came “from those who had not looked into the situation. Every city which has adopted meters has found that they are money savers both for the city and for the water user.” The director of public safety has pointed out that “the average charge for the meter will be $10 each, and we have less than $10,000 available for their purchase. As there are more than 325,000 water services in Philadelphia, the installation of 1,000 meters, as planned at present, will not upset things greatly. Until councils not only make an appropriation, but one of $1,000,000 or more for the purchase of meters, we are not likely to see any marked change in the relation of receipts to expenditures, and until councils not only make an appropriation, but one of a million dollars or more for the purchase of meters, we are not likely to see any marked changes in the relation of receipts to expenditures. In the present state of our finances this appropriation is not likely to he made in the near future. But no mattei how fast meters are introduced under this permissive policy, it will result in a net saving to the city as well as to the individual. This has been the invariable experience of every city in the world which has adopted meters. In buying meters, the department will not specify any particular make. We intend to buy the meters in the open market on specifications which can be met by everyone of six or eight manufacturers. There are a large number of independent meter manufacturers who make satisfactory meters, so there will be no trouble in obtaining real competition. We have it on authority of 10 leading water engineers of the country that this single step, one which will work no hardship on any one, and will, in the end, lower the water charges for many, will solve our water problem for live or 10 years to come. But to be effective, we must have action at once.” The press of the city generally indorse the action of councils, and the Telegraph. arguing the question editorially, insists that “they have taken the only means possible to make consumers conserve the fluid which the city provides them with through their spigots. It is better to husband the water supply, which is ample if not wasted, than to have to expend $3,000,000 or $4,000,000 more in filtration plants.”

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