New York Water Supply Should Be Metered.
Henry S. Thompson, commissioner of water supply, gas and electricity of this city, replying to criticisms of the city authorities’ water management, denies that these attacks are justified, and tells of efforts made to prevent waste. He says: “I take exception to the statement that there are probably wasted two hundred million gallons daily. Let us compare New York city’s consumption per capita with that of some of the other large cities of the United States: Buffalo heads the list with a consumption of 324 gallons per capita, and, while it is true that it has an unlimited supply, still all water has to be pumped, and this entails a large expense. Next in order come Pittsburg, with a per capita consumption of 230 gallons; Philadelphia, 227 gallons; Washington, 215 gallons: Chicago. 192 gallons; Detroit. 162 gallons; Jersey City. 160 gallons. Now we come to Cleveland, which has had its consumption reduced from 165 gallons per capita to 96 gallons per canita. Do you realize that this has been accomplished, not so much by waste detection work, although I recognize the great importance of this work, as by the fact that Cleveland is practically 100 per cent, metered? Do you appreciate the fact that New York city, with only about 25 per cent, of its supply metered, has only a per capita consumption of slightly over 111 gallons? I venture to say that if New York city were fully metered, her per capita consumption would be about 85 gallons, which would make the daily consumption 405 million gallons, instead of about 530 million gallons, as it is at present—a saving of 125 million gallons. I do not agree with the assertion that our mains are leaking to the extent of 100 to 200 million gallons a day. No evidence has been produced, nor could, in my opinion, he produced to justify such an assertion, and. in fact, such data as are available show it to be entirely erroneous. Washington has been cited to show how the waste was discovered in leaking mains. As New York has grown, it has had practically to relay a very large percentage of its water mains, not because they were too old or leaking, primarily, although they probably were deteriorating, but because the city has grown so rapidly, with its large office buildings and hotels containing innumerable water fixtures and equipped with till kinds of flushing apparatus, that the old mains were too small to supply the demands for water and to give adequate fire protection The new mains, which have replaced the old and smaller ones, were constructed and made under the most improved foundry methods and were laid under rigid specifications and strict supervision, so that leaks, if any. are comparatively few.
“The water department, however, at the present time, fully realizes the necessity of waste detection work, and is pushing it vigorously and effectually. It now has, in addition to a large house-to-house inspection force, working as well on the remeasuring of the whole city, a welldrilled corps working with pitometers. In the last nine months this has resulted in a total saving of about eleven million gallons a day. which, figured at meter rates, is equivalent, in round figures, to $534,111 a year. Still better results are to be expected as the work is extended and systematized. At this time of shortage we are putting forth special efforts, and the department has just requested $100,006 more for house-tohouse inspection work. The department must look for co-operation to the people themselves. I have refused this year, on account of the shortage of water, to grant permits for the use of hose for washing sidewalks, etc., and in spite of this order there can be seen, almost any morning, a large number of people using the hose. I have called upon the police department to lend their assistance in preventing this use of water. The department will impose a fine, which will be added to the water rent on all houses where the usfc of hose is reported, and will prosecute the users of the hose, as the law provides. The waste of water in our public buildings is enormous, and to obviate this we have asked all departments having jurisdiction to make provisions in next year’s budget for money to install meters, and for money to pay for the water used. In this matter I have secured the co-operation of several members of the board of estimate. I believe the newspapers can give us more real help in this matter by calling the people’s attention to the necessity of being careful in their use of water than by any other means. At the present moment we are in the predicament of being long on reservoirs and short on water.”