PHILADELPHIA AND ITS WATER.
In his third annual message to the councils of Philadelphia, Pa., Mayor Ashbridge thus refers to the bureau of water, and incidentally remarks that the report of Frank L. Hand, chief of the bureau, is the one hundredth annual report of that department of the city. That report shows that “improved methods of conducting the business of the bureau have brought about a large decrease in the former extraordinary consumption of water, in what has here-tofore been known as waste. Comparing last year with the first year of the present administration, the decrease was 3-685,710,329 gallons. In the early part of the year 1899 there were about 300,000,000 gallons of water consumed and wasted daily. Through the able administration of Chief Hand this has been brought down to less than 280,000,000 gallons during last year, notwithstanding many thousands of dwellings and other buildings have been added, which would natuarlly increase the consumption. The receipts last year were increased $207,483.25, while the current expenses increased only $62,617.64. The latter was due to the increase of force necessary to operate the additional machinery, the cost of labor of laying mains, the higher prices paid for coal, and other incidental expenses. The reduction in the quantity of water consumed does not represent a decrease in the supply to consumers, as there was a higher pressure and greater volume of water than ever heretofore maintained. The total receipts of the bureau for last year amounted to $3 331.437.45. The receipts for the past three years amounted to $9,704,586.89. For the previous corresponding period—to wit: 1896, 1897, 1898. $8,916,156.64, showing an increase during the past three years of $788430.25. The net surplus of receipts over expenditures for the last three years amounts to $2,120,611.22. This covers all expenditures both for permanent improvements as well as the cost of maintenance. During this period very great extensions and additions have been made, new engines, boilers, boiler and engine houses, distributing mains, and many other expenditures. It also includes the laying of mains of the independent high-pressure fire service. The introduction of the system of filtration in this city to furnish purer water in ample quantities to meet all the demands is the greatest public work ever undertaken by any municipality, and, when completed, Philadelphia will be far in advance of any city in the civilised world. The work has required the highest engineering skill in protecting and safeguarding the city against any loss in constructing and installing a system that will he absolutely practicable in its operations and beneficial in its results. Work on the upper Roxborough and Belmont systems was practically suspended during the winter. At each of these locations, however, the work will he pushed to a rapid completion. When it is considered that in the city of Albany, one of the first to introduce sand filtration, the entire volume of water furnished to that city is about 15,000.000 gallons per day, while at the Upper Roxborough system alone, more than 20,000,000 gallons daily will he supplied to Chestnut Hill. Mount Airy, and Germantown, an idea of the magnitude of the work can he obtained. The time for the completion of the work at Albany was twice the period that will be consumed in the completion of the Roxborough system. The expert engineers in their report made allowance only for 27,000.000 gallons a day in West Philadelphia, but since their report several thousand buildings have been erected and many thousands have been added to the population, making the consumption of water in West Philadelphia at the present time 30,000.0011 gallons daily. The engineers in charge of the filtration work have very wisely made other plans, not only to meet the immediate demands in this territory, but so that, when completed, the Belmont system will furnish 60,000,000 gallons per day. This will meet every requirement of the city west of the Schuylkill river for practically forty years to come. It was thought by the engineers, not only to be wise, but cheaper for the extended work to be done now instead of having to duplicate the system ten or twenty years hence, which would cost as much more for construction. The expert commissioners report allowed but for 200,000,000 gallons of filtered water daily to be furnished throughout the entire city, which was only twothirds of the amount which was being consumed at the time of their report. At each of the systems under process of construction the engineers in charge are developing their plans to meet every demand and requirement for thirty to fifty years in the future. The wisdom of this is apparent to every reasoning mind, and in years to come the city will save a great deal of additional money that would then be required to be appropriated. Never in the history of the city has so important a work confronted the people as that of the filtration of the water. It touches the very health and life of the community, and much greater attention has been given to this important subject than to, perhaps, all of the other matters of municipal improvements combined. I do not believe hut a small percentage of our citizens recognise the stupendous task taken up by the engineers in charge of the work. Its magnitude as well as the beneficial results will only be appreciated by the public when the work is completed and our city will possess the largest, purest, and best water system in the civilised world. The uncompleted part of the contract for laying the fire main service in the central portion of the city, which was interrunted about December 1, will be taken up early and soon finished. The $300,000 contained in the Loan hill for this purpose will be contracted for as soon as your honorable bodies direct the authorisation of the loan. It is the intention of the department of public works to introduce gas as fuel instead of coal. The estimates made show a great reduction in cost of maintaining the system, both in the cost of fuel as well as labor. When the system is completed and put in service it will prove a most valuable adjunct to the bureau of fire in subduing conflagrations, saving from great losses, and a more ample protection to human life. The reinspection of the entire city, which was inagurated by my direction in May, 1900, was completed in August. 1901. Instead of large salaries for inspectors, there was a corps of men appointed on tlie per diem roll at $1.75 per day. These men made 248,226 inspections, by means of which 40418 properties were discovered having appliances for which no water rents were being paid, a great majority of them not having paid any water rent for from ten to twenty years. The total number of delinquent appliances revealed by the inspection was 70,660. The water rent chargeable in these fixtures amounted to $146.057.35 per year, which will hereafter be annually added to the receipts of the bureau as a permanent income. The total amount during the period of years that the ordinance of city councils was not enforced and for which the city did not receive one dollar was $2,500,000. The cost of the entire work of reinspection was $26,447.76, showing a net revenue the first year of $119,609.59. Each succeeding year the city will be benefited by the entire gross amount.”