PANAMA WATER SUPPLY.
From United States Consul-General Gudger, Panama City, Panama.
The people of Panama depend for their water supply on (1) tanks, cisterns, or other means of catching and preserving rain from the roofs of houses; (2) wells in the “patios,” or yards; and (3) purchases from vendors. The rainy season lasts generally eight months, ending December 1. The small number of those who are fortunate enough to have large tanks or cisterns get a sufficient supply of water to answer all purposes. Many of the houses have no tanks, and the occupants must buy water or get it from wells to keep in barrels, tubs, etc. A large number of cartmen sell water in the city, charging five cents for five gallons, and during the dry season ten cents. The tanks, barrels, tubs, cans, etc., used in preserving water are. as a rule, open, and form favorite places for breeding mosquitoes. Experts on the subject hold that the only means of transmitting yellow fever, malarial fever and other kindred diseases are mosquitoes. Except by their utter extermination, if this theory is true, it is impossible to eradicate the diseases named. 1 his cannot be done while the breeding places remain intact, and these observations apply not only to Panama, but to the entire isthmus. To make the citv reasonably healthful and remove the fever menace it is indispensable that a water supply, with proper sewerage, be introduced in the cities of Panama, Colon, and in the entire canal zone. This fact was recognised by the United States and the Republic of Panama when they made the treaty with regard to the construction of the interoceanic canal. In that treaty it is provided that the United States shall furnish water supply and sewerage systems, and place in complete sanitary condition the cities of Panama and Colon. This obligation is being carried out, and in a very little while adequate water, sewerage and sanitation will exist in the places named. For many years it has been the earnest hope of Panamans that the water supply might be brought from the San Juan river, a beautiful, sparkling and clear stream, some fifteen miles distant, but the United States authorities have selected the Rio Grande as the source of supply. This stream is located in the canal zone, ten miles from Panama, on the line of the Panama railroad and the route of the canal. The watershed has an area of about four square miles, is uninhabited, and is covered with forest. A reservoir has been constructed covering about seventy acres, with a capacity of 500,000,000 gallons. Necessary walls have been constructed, earth removed, underbrush and logs taken away, and, in fact, everything done with a view to keeping the water pure and uncontaminated. This lake is fed by a beautiful stream, which furnishes all the water needed during the rainy season and sufficient to fill the reservoir for use at the beginning of the dry season. ‘Pile tests show that during the very driest weather it can be relied on for 3,000,000 gallons daily. One of the great advantages of the selection is that the title to the watershed is in the United States government. The estimate is that at the beginning of the dry season the supply on hand will be 500,000,000 gallons. Taking this as approximately correct, the supply will be adequate for 40,000 people, estimating the amount used at 100 gallons per capita daily. The city has at present not more than 20,000 people, so that it will be seen that all the water needed may be obtained from this source. The water has been analysed and found to be chemically and bacteriologically pure, and the stream furnishes a firstclass quality of water in abundance. It is now the consensus of opinion of those who have investigated the matter that no mistake was made in selecting the source of supply. Whatever prejudices may have existed at the beginning have largely disappeared. Beginning at the lake, the aqueduct has been laid for about a mile in the direction of Panama. This was done with the piping on hand left over from the French canal company. The ditch for the remainder of the way has been practically completed to the city limits, and putting down the aqueduct will take a very short time when the necessary material has been received. It is stated by those in a position to know that all material necessary to complete the waterworks left Mobile on the schooner A. G. Babcock January 5. Lake Rio Grande is several hundred feet higher than Panama city. The water will lie conveyed by gravitation to a reservoir, also higher than the city, on the hill at Ancon, and thence to Panama city close by, so that the whole waterway will be by gravity. The reservoir at Ancon is built of stone, is cemented, and has a capacity of 50,000,000 gallons. All the work done and the materials used seem to be firstclass in quality.