NOTES ON WATER SUPPLY OF THE PHILIPPINES
(SPECIALLY WRITTEN FOR FIRE AND WATER.)
Throughout the Philippines the waterworks systems are very defective. The water itself is not pure, and the method of supply is poor. The few improvements that have been made during the past hundred years were due in part to the Spanish, and more recently to the Americans. On Luzon in the neighborhood of Manila the system and supply are fairly good, but defective in many ways. Outside Manila rivers, wells and rain-basins form the sources of supply. Only in the rain-basins is the water pure, but it becomes impure after standing a little time. Since sanitation has begun to be enforced in the islands, the Filipinos experience some difficulty in getting drinking water, since most of the rivers rise in sections abounding in vegetable matter which is constantly undergoing decay. They are further polluted by the caribou—the Philippine reindeer, used by the islanders (as will be seen in two of the accompanying illustrations) as a beast of burden and for draught purposes—great herds of which wallow in the streams, and by the natives, who bathe in the waters without restraint, and empty all their filth into them on every side. These continue to drink the water freely. The American soldiers, however, are all obliged to boil the waters of the river before drinking it. The well water, also, though cool and apparently clear and pure, when subjected to microscopic examination is shown toabound in pathogenic microbes. It can, therefore, be used only after having been boiled for a long time. The drinking water from the basins can be caught only during the rainy half of the year. The basins are often covered, and, when this is the case, are well protected so far as their supply is concerned. In very many cases, however, the writer has seen them uncovered, and. in addition to the water, has noticed dead fowl and other polluting matter floating on the surface or lying at the bottom. The little mountain brooks furnish practically pure enough water; but these, of course, are not available for use in the cities and large towns.
Waterworks are in demand in the islands, the better classes of whose population have offered high prices, and even put up the money for water supplies; but to no purpose for lack of the proper materials for establishing systems. In Manila there is a fairly good plant, and under American control the machinery is kept in running order. But in Iloilo (which could also supply Molo, Jaro, Oton, Arevalo, and other large towns close by) the American population has to import at high prices bottled waters from the Jananese springs, as well as lemonade, tonics, and the like, of which shiploads are imported. The same conditions rule in the southern islands; imported or boiled water or the polluted, disease-bearing stuff of the country must be drunk. The engineers of the islands have, therefore, proposed to establish waterworks throughout the country. taking the water from the springs found in most of the mountainous sections. On Mindanao, for example, your correspondent visited the mining dist’ ets and was shown many very excellent brooks of water, which could be combined into one or two channels and carried to the reservoirs in the cities and towns. On Cebu there are plenty of good water supplies in the mountains, while the people of the cities and towns are drinking the polluted waters of the marshes and wells. The same conditions exist on the islands of Gimeras, Negros, and others of the southern portion of the archipelago. For good water supplies the people are willing to pay, and the leading citizens state that their people were willing to buy stocks in any water supply company which would begin operations on their island. These richer classes of natives have the money with which to do work of this kind, but no one has ever been in any other island than Luzon with a view of forming stock companies for water supplies. The sugar planters and the proprietors of the shops and to bacco lands, all well off, speak to the same effect.
The lack of piping has. of course, stood in the way. When the Americans first came to the Philippines there was hardly too feet of water pipe laid, and in many places bamboo poles are today utilised for that purpose. These are so laid that the smaller end interlocks with the larger, and at the joinings is a binding of split bamboo and hempen cord cemented over with a composition obtained from the clayey deposits of the lowlands. These pipes are put together on the ground, or, in some cases, when sunk a few feet in the earth, and then covered. But these pipes are not lasting; they will carry a thin stream of water for a few months and then loosen at the joints and leak. Again, they cause trouble by clogging, because there is a little rib inside of the bamboo, which often splits off in such a way as to catch foreign matter, and they clog the channel. There are also homemade pipes used by the natives, constructed from clay and cement. There are good clay deposits here, apd also mines of lime and cement, while the fine beach sands arc excellent for pipe-making purposes, if the Filipinos understood the art. But they do not. and the result is that they can turn out only some inferior and small sized pieces of pipe, which are of little use and have to be renewed frequently.
Elbows are almost impossible for the native potters to manufacture, while such appliances as stopvalves, and the like have to be made up of patched devices, such as may have been shipped here by the Spanish or the Japanese and sold through the socalled hardware supply stores of the country. 1 have seen fittings for pipes made tip of dozens of patched pieces, very ingeniously formed, but totally inadequate for the work intended.
As to power systems for the waterworks of the Philippines: Outside of the power plant of Manila, no engineer seems to have had the courage to plan extensive works. At times there have been parties of engineers in Iloilo looking over the territory, with a view to installing proper pumping stations; but no definite move has as yet been made, although some of the leading sugar mill men were ready to invest several hundred thousand dollars in the enterprise. In some of the islands the engineers have planned to establish water power systems, there being some good water courses capable of being dammed and utilised for power-transmitting purposes. Some of the commanding officers of the United Statesarmy in different districts have started the idea of contributing money for the purpose of putting in such systems for operating electric lights, water supply systems, cable roads, and other modern conveniences.
One of the greatest paying investments in the islands would be ice-making, if proper water could be had. In fact, those who are engaged in the business at the present time are obliged to operate their plants twenty-four hours per day, Sunday and every day. They can get very high prices for the ice and are never able to keep up with the demand. There are government ice-making plants in Manila, Iloilo, and some of the other important stations, and, after the hospitals are supplied, the operators of these plants are permitted to sell the surplus ice to government officials at cost. After they are supplied, the stores and the other people are permitted to buy.
Labor can be secured at very low rates; even the native women are hired out on waterworks conconstruction. Skilled engineers from America and other countries expect from $,} to $6 in gold a day, while European or American foremen and superintendent engineers are paid even higher wages.
As to the materials found on the spot which can be used in the construction of waterworks: There are the different sandstones of the country which are suitable for reservoirs and stone work in general. This material is found in vast quarries almost everywhere. It is cut and carted to market by natives, some of whom make a business of this work alone, as the stone is used by them for many purposes. There are also the different sorts of native woods, which can be had for the cutting, for the government lands arc open to all.
The accompanying illustrations show the hauling of bamboo poles, by caribou, for pipe uses; gang of native workmen and caribou; and native women employed on waterworks construction.