New York Urged to Buy Private Water Systems

New York Urged to Buy Private Water Systems

Commissioner Thompson of the New York Department of Water Supply has again communicated with the Board of Estimate on the subject of the purchase of the private water companies within the limits of the city, recommending that they be taken over. There are three of these companies in Queens Borough, three in Brooklyn and several in Richmond supplying private consumers. Speaking of the situation in Queens, M. P. Walsh, Deputy Commissioner of the Water Department for that borough, says:

“The growth of the Borough of Queens is so rapid that delay in the purchase of the private water companies now operating in three of the five wards of the borough is certain to cause serious embarrassment, if not actual danger to life and property. That this statement is not made without due regard to the most serious construction that can be placed upon it, it is only necessary to recall the condition that existed in the Ridgewood Heights section of the borough in the heated term last, summer. The development of this section in the last few years has been so rapid that it has outgrown the distribution system of the water company supplying it. The result was that many families above the ground floors were without water for days at a time. Fires could not be kept in kitchen ranges for fear of bursting boilers, toilets could not be flushed and the entire community was in fear of serious consequences. Pressures taken at street hydrants by an inspector of this department showed that many hydrants were useless in the event of a fire. This condition has been partly relieved by the company laying a larger feed main to supply this district. This improvement was not made until the danger was so great as to menace the interests of the company itself In this case the full measure of relief has not been granted and will not be until larger feed mains have been laid in this conjested district. To obtain further relief it will be necessary for the city to grant additional hydrant rentals to the company to compensate it for the expense of the improvement. Under the direction of Commissioner Thompson this work was taken up by the engineers of the department, and plans for improving the system were submitted to the company. What has happened in Ridgewood will happen in other parts of the borough in the territory of private water companes, because they do not extend their systems with the view of meeting the future demands of the territory, but with the idea of getting the greatest revenue at the least cost to themselves. In one of the most rapidly growing territories the water company requires the consumer to advance the entire cost of laying the mains, the money to be refunded as it is collected for water consumed. This policy is followed regardless of whether the returns for water consumed will pay an interest on the money invevsted in new mains. The result is that the consumers lay one or two inch private service lines and get absolutely no fire protection. In the winter these lines freeze and put an additional burden and expense on the consumer. The taxpayers of the borough in its present stage of development are subjected to heavy assessments for sewers and other improvements, and it is not just that those outside the city’s system should be compelled to advance money to obtain an adequate supply of water and fire protection when taxpayers in all the rest of tile city are. free from this expense. Neither is it just that they should lie required to maintain the extra burden of the higher cost of water charged by private companies. The cost of hydrant rentals paid to private water companies is constantly growing. For 1911 this item amounted to $75,128. It is estimated that for 1912, as a result of the natural growth of the borough, 530 additional hydrants will be set byprivate water companies. At an average rental of $19 a year, this will cost the city $10,070. Owing to the need of increased fire protection in the Rockaway section, it is planned to set 428 more hydrants, provided the water companymakes certain improvements. At $20 a hydrant this will amount to $8,560. Under a similar arrangement in the Ridgewood and Glendale sections. it is planned to set 195 additional hydrants, at $20 a year, making $3,900. This will make a total of $97,660 annually for hydrant rentals, which, with the growth of the borough, will increase about 10 per cent, a year. In addition to hydrant retital. the city has becit paying for ater purchased for Long Island City about HI If NI a year. The advantage to the city in supplying water to all of its terrtry uput the completion of the lard of watcr Supply svs tent makes it most desirable that the city be in psesion ot the systems of the Inite water companies at the earliest date. of these systems must he strengthened and rein forced by larger trunk mains. The two wards served now by the city systeui are solated. The WI Irk of harm Inizing all and iug fr nc system to cover the entire borough should be II ne now. Every years delay means great addii onal cost. II lily in the purchase price, hut in the cost of construction. The number of Permanently paved streets and highways is ra pidly growing. Ripping these up a few years hence for water mains that are essential to-day (and that can only be secured by the city taking over the private companies in paralleling their mains), will greatly increase the est of constlttclion. In addti 0 II the nov to the city by taking over the~e plants Ii iv. there s a great saving that ivihl reoilt t the nnoperlv owners in the reduced C st I insurance.”

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