New York is, apparently, awakened to a realization of the fact that an increased water supply is absolutely necessary, as well for sanitary requirements as for more adequate fire protection. The daily papers have lately contained numerous complaints from citizens who find the supply of Croton so inefficient that it will not flow above the first or second floors of their up-town residences, while in the lower part of the city force-pumps have to be used to get water to any height above the mains. This is due to the extraordinary drafts made upon the water supply for manufacturing purposes. Add to this the enormous quantity of water wasted in hotels, livery stables, and used in washing streets, etc., and it is not surprising that the supply is short. That the Croton system must be Supplemented with something else is now a conceded neceessity. If nothing else made it necessary, the fact that the present system does not furnish sufficient water for fire purposes in cases of great emergency, should be a sufficient answer to all who may be inclined to oppose further public improvements at the present time. New York’s greatest peril to-day lies in her insufficient water supply. Our business men are constantly holding meetings to devise ways and means for further developing our commercial interests, whereat is discussed the growing importance of rival cities, and the danger that threatens New York’s “commercial supremacy,” but the fact that the city is constantly exposed to a peril that may, at any moment, destroy not only her “ commercial supremacy,” but jeopard her very existence, is entirely overlooked. A great fire can do more in one day towards crippling the business energy of our citizens than rival seaports can do in ten years. We deplore the loss of a few millions of dollars of trade, yet contemplate a greater peril with indifference, and “trust to luck” to escape it rather than adopt wise and judicious measures to overcome it.
In a recent number of THE JOURNAL we commented on a plan for water works, calculated to utilize the river water for fire, manufacturing and sanitary purposes, prepared by Mr. Lockwood, a civil engineer. With this number we give a diagram of a section of the city, including the “ dry goods district,” showing the plan proposed for introducing the Holly system of water supply. This plan was prepared by Mr. Holly at the instance of some prominent insurance men who appreciate the danger that threatens. By this system it is proposed to divide the city into four districts, each to have separate pumping machinery, taking water far out in the river to avoid all impurities ; connected with each set of pumps is a complete system of street mains, varying in size from 42 inches to 12 inches in diameter, the different sizes to be laid according to the requirements of various localities. It will be seen that numerous hydrants are proposed—between three and four hundred in the district represented in the diagram—and these to have four or six outlets, as required. By this arrangement, fifty streams can be concentrated at any given point, each stream of greater volume than those thrown by our best Steamers. It is designed to keep the pumping machinery working constantly with sufficient power to force water through the mains under a pressure adequate to ordinary demands, but, in case of fire, to increase the pressure as required. The. cost of this system in the district shown is given at about $1,500,000, the contractor guaranteeing his work and giving bonds that it will come up to the specifications. This plan furthermore contemplates using a portion of the pumping machinery to give additional pressure to the Croton, so that it will rise to the top floors of the tallest buildings. This of itself would be worth millions of dollars from a sanitary point of view, giving citizens a ready and abundant supply of fresh water at all times.
This plan has been submitted to the New York Board of Underwriters. and meets their hearty approval. So deep an interest do insurance men take in it that they have appointed a committee to present the matter to the Common Council and urge its adoption. This plan is by far less costly than any other that has been proposed, and, besides the economy in original expenditure, offers many other economic advantages. it would prove a large source of revenue to the city from sales of water for manufacturing purposes. In place of steam engines now so generally used in manufacturing establishments, a comparatively inexpensive water motor can be substituted, for which salt water can be used, the user paying a small sum to the city for the amount consumed. This would be a saving to manufacturers of the expense of running steam boilers and engines. The adoption of the Holly system would also do away with the necessity for Steam Fire Engines, as each hydrant outlet would give a stream of greater capacity than any Steamer. It would not. however, tend to reduce the number of Firemen, as a greater number of Hose Companies would be required, and the same number of Hook and Ladder Companies. So long as the present style of architecture is indulged in, there is no danger of the number of Firemen being reduced, whatever system of fire protection may be provided. But the cost of Engines and their maintenance, constituting a large portion of the expense of keeping up the Fire Department, would be done away with. Recognizing, as we do, the necessity for utilizing the waters of our rivers as an additional water supply, we have no hesitation in commending this plan as the best and most economical yet proposed to secure the same degree of efficiency.
WE have law’s to punish burglars, pickpockets, murderers, and other criminals, but none to punish the man who puts up a cheap and dangerous building in the midst of a compactly built city, fills it with inflammable material, and then, through carelessness or recklessness, sets fire to it, thus exposing the lives and property of his neighbors to destruction. They do things better in France and in China. There persons who carelessly start fires are punished ; in France they have to pay all damages that arise from the fire; in China they are exposed in a public place with a yoke around their necks, appropriately labeled. This is one point wherein we might imitate the Chinese to advantage.