Philadelphia Water Report

Philadelphia Water Report

The annual report of the Philadelphia, Pa., Bureau of Water, for the year ending Decembear 31, 1913, and addressed to the Director of the Department of Public Works, has been issued in printed form, substantially and handsomely bound in cloth. In the report Carleton E. Davis, Chief of the Bureau, shows that the total consumption of water as gauged by the water actually delivered into the distribution system was 105 billion gallons. This is equivalent to a daily per capita rate of 178 gallons for a population of 1,611,000, which is the estimated population receiving city water. The report says: “The figure of 105 billion gallons is based upon pumping station records, and filter weir records, all of which were checked during the year by frequent independent pitometer measurements. It is probable that this figure is correct within three or four per cent. Considerable progress was made by the pitometer corps in separating the city into distinct distribution districts and in measuring the consumption of water in these districts. The central business section of the city, between South and Callowhill Streets, shows the highest per capita rate, owing probably to the large daily influx of commuters and shoppers. An interesting feature of this district, however, with its comparatively small resident population, is the fact that the total consumption for the twenty-four hours of Sunday is not very much below that for a week-day. Such condition appears to indicate a considerable waste of water which is probably going on throughout the week as well as on Sunday. These figures show that while no radical improvement has been made in the matter of reducing waste, an advance has been gained. They likewise show the necessity on the part of all concerned to continue the work, and indicate where the need is greatest. I doubt if the public even yet fully realizes the importance and magnitude of household leakage. House to house visits through only a part of the city during the year disclosed 58,000 leaks large enough to warrant repairs. None of these was discharging a stream smaller than a lead pencil and many of them were much larger. A conservative estimate of the total waste from this source is 30,000,000 per day or 10 per cent, of the supply. This is only one element of waste in a portion of the city alone. While urging householders to stop waste, the Bureau has gone forward in cleaning its own skirts in his respect. Pitometer surveys to detect leakage in the mains covered about 14 square miles in the central section. Two large leaks aggregating about 375,000 gallons per day were found, and a number of small ones The Pumping Station equipment remained substantially as in 1915. The total pumpage, including water pumped at the filters, and repumped lor high service, was 188 billion gallons. This total pumpage is the equivalent of 309 billion gallons pumped 100 feet high. The similar equivalent for 1912 was 333 billion gallons pumped 100 feet high. The Pumping Stations were operated in 1913 at a decrease in cost from 1912, and in general the plants were in improved shape at the end of the year. Expenditures for up-keep must be continued and should be increased to maintain the equipment in a satisfactory condition. The Torresdale filters have not fully recovered from the severe strain caused by the unusual turbidity in the Delaware River in the spring of 1912. This situation emphasizes the need of preliminary sedimentation at this plant to permit it to cope successfully with peak loads. To a greater or less degree the turbidity of the Delaware reaches a point once or twice each year beyond the removal capacity of the plant. The damage to the filters at such times requires weeks and sometimes months to overcome, with the result that the plant is on the constant verge of breaking down under the load. The history of the Torresdale filters since their first operation has been a constant struggle to deliver the quantity of water demanded in a satisfactory condition. While these results were forthcoming during 1913 as in previous years, it should be recognized that it is not wise to continue so close to the line of a definite breakdown. The character of the output of the Torresdale filters was subjected to unusual scrutiny on account of the rise in typhoid in certain districts supplied with water from this plant. The conclusion was reached by all who investigated that the water as it left the filters was in satisfactory condition and that the cause of the increased typhoid must be elsewhere. The filter plants on the Schuylkill continued in a satisfactory condition. In general an improvement in their operating efficiency was effected, the results at Belmont being the most marked. During the latter part of the year all the filter plants were equipped with apparatus for applying liquid chlorine to the effluent. This apparatus has thus far given general satisfaction. Investigations to determine whether the increase in typhoid in the city during the spring and summer could in any way be attributed to the water supply disclosed the existence of many so-called dual water supplies. That is, certain establishments were found to have in addition to city water a supply for certain purposes drawn from an independent, and perhaps, polluted source. In a number of instances, pipes carrying the two waters were so insufficiently separated as to permit leakage of the polluted water into the city mains. A special investigation of the entire city disclosed seventy-seven such cases of dual connections. Acting under orders from the Board of Health complete physical severance of the two systems of pipes was made in each instance. Twenty-six miles of mains were added to the system, and one mile was abandoned, making the total length of pipes in service 1754 miles. The customary trouble was experienced with fire hydrants in the streets, due to the promiscuous use of these fixtures for other than the purpose for which thev were intended. Other means should be provided for drawing water in the streets, and the fire hydrants should be used for fire purposes only. Lacking sufficient funds, the Bureau discontinued the practice of installing meters. It continued the testing and inspection of meters, which consumers purchased and installed at their own cost. There were placed in service. 12.013 meters, making the total number in use 15.930. Barring one complaint of short pressure, which was caused by a stone in hydrant from which water was taken, the High Pressure System performed its service to the satisfaction of the Fire Bureau. All told, water from this system was used on thirty-three fires. The revenues of the Water Bureau were $5,010,509.82, an increase of $62,861.18 over the previous year. The total expenditures, not including interest or sinking fund charges, but including material furnished through the Department of Supplies, were $2,447,791.51, a decrease of $310,934.70 from those of last year. These expenditures include capital outlay for improvements, as well as operation and maintenance.

CARLETON E. DAVIS, CHIEF OF PHILADELPHIA, PA., WATER BUREAU.

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