NINETEEN A BANNER YEAR
Greater Expansion, More Improvements and New Developments Planned for the Present Year Than Any Previous Three-Year Period
ONE of the phases of America’s war activities that must appeal to the pride of every thinking citizen was the whole-hearted and practically unanimous response that was instantly accorded to every request of the Federal Government to save here or not to spend there. This meant for each individual municipality a certain amount of self-sacrifice—in some cases more, in some less —but in every instance the city government which had planned improvements cheerfully gave up its intention and confined its public work to that of an absolutely necessary nature, in order to help the government win the war.
To realize just what this meant, it must be borne in mind that the forty-eight states of the Union, with their thousands of towns and cities, annually spend an amount running into hundreds of millions of dollars for municipal improvement and extension. These are necessitated by the spreading out of the boundaries, the increases in population, and the expansion of business which even the smallest towns experience within a year. A very substantial proportion of this sum goes into the purchase of new fire apparatus and equipment; extensions and improvements to the water supply and sewerage systems, and the like.
For two years past these movements have been practically all stopped. Only those which were called for and necessitated by the proximity of a camp or cantonment or by the establishment of one of the large manufactories engaged in war work were pushed to completion. These of course were necessary and were in furtherance of the Government’s plans, but outside of cases of this kind, the work of extension was at a standstill.
Work Stopped by War to Be Resumed
At the time of this cessation of ordinary municipal activity many of the cities and towns were planning improvements and additions to their various departments and systems. In the majority of cases these will now be resumed, and in many instances the plans will be expanded and enlarged upon, owing to further growth and development during the period of quiescence. In addition to this, there will be many towns that in this time will have grown beyond their present resources, and will, of necessity, be compelled to increase the extent of their water and sewerage systems, add to their water supply, introduce filtration and purification plants, and motorize or further enlarge their fire departments by the addition of new apparatus and equipment.
There are also many smaller towns and villages which have grown to the point where they will install water supply and sewerage systems for the first time.
Government Urges Municipal Improvements
The government itself—instead of discouraging development, as it was perforce compelled to do in the past—now begs the cities to put forward every effort to increase their improvements. The reason for this, of course, is obvious. The thousands of men returning from France, about to be discharged from the armed forces, and with no employment in prospect, must be cared for. Work must be provided for them, until at least they can get their bearings and settle back again into some permanent livelihood. So, naturally, the government turns to the municipalities with unfinished and projected improvements until now held in abeyance by conditions beyond their control, and promises not only to remove all obstacles to their development, hut to foster and assist them in every way possjble.
Early in January, 1919, the following letter was sent out from Washington by General March to every mayor and other executives of the cities of the country: “The amount of public works postponed on account of war conditions is very large. If a considerable portion of these delayed public works are well under way during the transition periods from war to peace, they will greatly help to stabilize employment and industry. The transformation of war works into the essential industries of peace and the demobilization of our military forces can be made more easy if the necessary public works of the municipalities of the United States are in full swing at that time. Therefore the War Labor Policies Board suggests that your city immediately determine how much of the delayed public works it can and will undertake, and when the different portions of it will be begun. As soon as your preliminary plans are agreed upon the nearest office of the United States employment service will he anxious to receive approximate information concerning the number and kinds of workers needed to carry out your plans. The aggregate of such information from all the municipalities of the United States will be of great value to the government. After you have had time to make your decisions and plans, further inquiries through the Capital Issues Committee and the Department of Labor will be directed to you concerning them.
Plans of Forty Cities
Word comes from the United States War Labor Board that forty of the principal cities of the country are prepared to spend $122,850,000 in appropriations and bond issues for public works and buildings. In response to inquiries from the board, which was anxious to find out how much employment could be counted upon for the returning soldiers and war workers, reports from mayors of various cities showed that twelve cities in the eastern district were prepared to spend $46,543,500; thirteen cities in the central district, $41,248,720; nine in the western district, $30,521,000, and six in the southern, $4,537,000.
Of course, this represents only a comparatively small portion of the expenditures that local governments all over the country will devote to the betterment of the efficiency ot their public works, and does not take into consideration the other large cities that have not reported their prospective improvements and additions. Beyond that also there are the hundreds of smaller municipalities, nearly every one of which will require some expenditures in the various departments. This will swell the total to many times that of the amount reported to the War Labor Board.
Needs in the Fire and Water Fields
In the Fire and Water fields the need for improvements is particularly urgent. Many millions of dollars have got to be spent at once in the fire departments to put them back upon the basis of perfection they were in before the crippling of the war rules prevented the purchase of badly needed equipment. Many of the departments had been planning to enlarge their forces and increase their equipment and apparatus; others had expected to effect the much needed change from horse-drawn to motor-driven machines; to replenish old and worn hose, that had been doing duty much longer than it should for the safety of the public; to add new and up-to-date tools and equipment for the use of the firemen in their work. All of these matters have been held in abeyance on account of the war, but now that the restrictions have been removed, must be purchased at once to place the departments on a proper plane of usefulness and efficiency.
Similarly, in the water departments, many millions will have to he spent for needed improvements to water supply systems, in filtration plants, meters, sedimentation basins, purification works, reservoirs, extensions to mains, and so on. Now that there is no necessity for limitation in the spending of money, the public health will urgently demand that these important matters he pushed to completion.
I he matter of filtration and purification of water supplies has in the past few years become a very live and important question. The recent developments of sanitary science have shown that many epidemics—especially those of an enteric nature have been caused by impure and neglected water supplies and the necessity of proper filtration systems and chlorination systems is becoming more and more universally recognized, so that the developments along these lines will probably be very extensive.
Increase in Adoption of Meters
Another important development of the war has been the recognition of the necessity of the water meter. One reason for this has been the urgent call for economy in the use of coal. The report of the United States Census Bureau estimates that the daily average per capita consumption of water pumped by steam for 155 of the principal cities of the country is about 114 gallons, and for every gallon per capita saved daily there may lie expected a saving of approximately 14 1/3 tons of coal. A daily saving of 14 1/3 tons of coal per day per capita would mean an annual saving of approximately 5.200 tons, produced by reducing the per capita consumption throughout the country one gallon per day, and 52,000 tons per year by a per capita reduction of ten gallons per day.
Experience has demonstrated that the only practical way to effect such a saving as this is by the reduction of the wastage of water, and the one practical method of attaining this result is by the universal adoption of meters. For instance, it is stated that the per capita consumption of water in the city of Boston by the compulsory adoption of meters dropped from 130 gallons per day in 1917 to 90 gallons per day in 1918. Since the entrance of America into the war and the necessity for economy in municipal expenditures, the advance in the adoption of meters has been very rapid. Now, with the lessons that the war has taught regarding the necessity of economy in the use of water, the prospect of universal meterage—as the most just as well as the most economical system of water distribution—has been brought very much closer.
Extension and Improvement of Sewerage
Sewer developments, also neglected through no fault of the city governments, now must be pushed to completion. Besides the many uncompleted and temporarily suspended plans for these developments, there will no doubt be hundreds of small towns which will be compelled through extension and increase in population, to install new sewer systems and sewage disposal plants. The advance in sanitary science, before referred to, will also be applied to the extension of these works, and the installation of the most modern and approved systems of sewage disposal and disinfection.
Opportunities for Manufacturers
Never before have the opportunities for manufacturers in the field been so bright, and the prospects for a continued healthy increase in demand so apparent. That this demand will he met it is not difficult to predict by anyone who knows the spirit of the American manufacturers. But means must he provided for the buyer and seller to meet on common ground. Of course one of the first among these purchasers to feel this prosperity and lack of restriction will be the public services of the various municipalities, and these departments will naturally desire to place their orders for deliveries as rapidly and with as little delay as possible.
Great Number of Buyers in Market
1 here will, beyond doubt, be a greater number of buyers in the market than ever. More prospective purchasers are seeking information than has been known before. And many of these are inexperienced in the art of buying, as they are in the market for the first time in the lines of their necessities. This will apply particularly to the commissioners and committees of the small towns, men who have, perhaps, never had any experience in the work of supplying the municipalities with the needed apparatus, machinery and appliances. There is a peculiar lack of detailed information—such as these purchasers need—concerning the American manufacturers’ products, in the Fire, Water and Sewerage fields, in convenient form, available for ready and quick reference. It is to supply this need that the Buyers Guide and Index number is published.