METERS THE ENEMY OF THE WATER HOG
The water meter is a mechanical device for the measurement of water. There are at this time several different makes of meters on the market, which in service give excellent results. Fifty years ago a water meter was practically unknown as an article of commerce. Twenty-five years ago, only one superintendent of waterworks had the courage to advocate in convention the universal metering of the water supply, to-day the superintendent opposed to the meter system is very rare. The consumer, the uneducated and ever-apprehensive public is the barrier to its general adoption. The distribution of water on the earth amounts to seven-tenths: about seven-tenths of the human body is water. The analogy in water distribution in the human being and the world he inhabits should induce studious consideration. The study will convince us unquestionably of the vital importance of an adequate supply for cities and towns and its proper, economical use. In the adoption of the meter system the most vital point for consideration aside from a financial standpoint, is the conservation of the water supply; and looked a: from that standpoint it would seem to be not so much a mater of policy to adopt meters, but a matter of vital necessity in order to stop the profligate waste of water that is costing the cities of our state so much to deliver to the various consumers. The water meter has solved some serious and difficult water problems in cities and towns. The consumer regulates the volume he uses or wastes, or bosh; the use of the meter is the best known method to determine the volume; hence it is fair to use a meter. If it is unfair to insist that a meter be used, then it is equally unfair and wrong that he dealer use the yard stick, the scales and the measure. To object to the use of a meter is substantially to prefer the methods of antiquity and to oppose modern methods which years of study and experience have developed. As a leak detect or it has no equal: it is the water hog’s most bitter enemy: it is fair and just to all. the small as well as the large consumer; it stops criminal waste of the precious fluid; it makes argument unnecessary and keeps water commissioners from getting grayhair All metered consumers are practically elmploys of the water department, each serving as water inspector on his own premises. The introduction of a meter on a consumer’s premises at once enlists the co-operation of that consumer in the economical use of water. It is a great mis take to think of a meter as an instrument to restrict the use of water: it never did restrict the use ot water and it never will; it only restric s waste. A vast amountof nonsense has been mtered against the fancied tyranny of the water meter. The public mmd should be freed from all such thoughts and should he educated to regard the nicer as everybody’s friend. Following is a table which speaks for itself, giving number of cities classified under different populations -those with less than 25 per cent, taps metered, with daily consumption per capita, and those with over 75 per cent, taps metered, with daily consumption per capita:
Sioux City. Ia., in 1898, had 312 meters in service, the pnmpage was 491.911.’non gallons: in 1904, with 2,317 meters serving 3,062 places, the pump age was 426,800,867 gallons, a saving of over 60,000,000 gallons. At Flint, Mich., the daily consumption was reduced by the installation ot meters from 2,014 gallons per tap in 1893 to 600 gallons tier tap in 1898; the cost of fuel in 1893 was $3,284: in 1898 the cost of fuel was $2,240; thus it will he seen that the introduction of meters reduced the consumption per tap 70 per cent., and effected a saving in fuel over $1,600 per year. Lincoln, Neb., in 1897 had a flat rate. The daily pnmpage was 3,070,000 gallons, supplying 3,200 services. In 1902 there were 4.233 taps, with 4,125 meters. The daily pumpage was 1,500,000 gallons, less than one-half of the puntpage in 1897. In 1897 the city lost $16,900 on the water system: in 1902 it gained $22,000. Cleveland. O., has changed from a flat rate to a meter system in the last seven years. The daily pnmpage was reduced from 7o,0oo,ooo to .52,000,000 gallons, while at the same time the number of consumers increased 34 per cent. Chadron, Neb, constructed a water system in 1889, which until 1907 was operated under flat rate to consumers, with an available supply of 500,009 gallons per 24 hours. A city of from 1,800 to 2,200 population faced a water famine every summer during hose season, with an average daily consumption of 260 gallons per capita. In June, 1908, the council by ordinance adopted the meter system, and within 90 days 75 per cent, of taps were metered, with the same available supply and a population of 3,300 our supply is sufficient, an excellent pressure system is maintained at all times for fire protection, receipts are increasing, and everybody is satisfied. The question of meter rates go hand in hand with a meter system. The only source of revenue of a waterworks system is from wa:er rates. It seems necessary in the smaller cities and towns that more thought and care lie bestowed on the question of the cost price of water before settling the rates at which it should he sold. Of course, no equitable rate can he made other than by measure and where water plants operating on the Hate rate attempt to make changes in these rates trouble ensues. No one can tell how much water will he used for wash ing clothes or for washing dishes or for sanitary purposes or other uses in a household that is slip plied under the flat rate or how much will be wasted one way and another unless metered, and if we have not all got that knowledge we carnot tell how to make our rates. A flat rate charged for water service is often arrived at by taking the rate charged in other cities for a basis, while such plant may he operating under entirely different conditions, the injustice of such an arbitrary ra e is obvious. The meter rate must be high enough to make it expensive to waste water. The office of the meter should not he to restrict the legitimate use of water, Inn to secure to each consumer an abundant supply at a minimum cost on an equitable basis Tests have been made in several cities to determine the life of a meter and the cost of maintenance and repairs. Actual figures arc now available to enable us to state that the life of a high-grade meter is at least 25 years, with good reason to believe that this figure will be largely increased in the future. This means a low depreciation figure. The cost of repairs of the high-grade meter to-day is very low. Reports from several cities show that the maintenance account ranges from 5 to 20 cents per meter per year, varying with the quality of the water and other local conditions. Mv own experience has shown, with about 48 meters in service, a maintenance account of 11 cents per year.