Publicity in the Water Department
An interesting experiment has been inaugurated by the Spring Valley Water Company, of San Francisco, Cal. It is a policy of taking the public into its confidence, and by a course of educational publicity, of placing its affairs in the limelight of the press. Samuel P. Eastman, the manager of the company, thus describes the plans involved in the new move: “It is the desire of the company to cultivate closer relations with the public. We realize that the administration of the city’s water supply is a public trust and that the more the public knows about water problems and our efforts to solve them, the better it will he for everybody concerned. Public utilities thrive on cordial relations with the public. The public would rather be cordial than otherwise, hut they must be given an opportunity to understand. Hitherto, though our records and accounts have been open to the public, we have not sought publicity. There were sound reasons for our silence, but these no longer exist. We feel that what we shall have to say through the medium of newspaper advertising and otherwise will not only cause the public to be proud of the Spring Valley Water Company, hut will also make for better water service.” While it may require a certain amount of courage for a company or department to adopt a policy of absolute publicity, and to open its affairs to the scrutiny of its customers, in the long run there is little doubt that the advantages reaped will far offset any inconvenience that such a plan might entail. The confidence of the public is an inestimable asset for any utility, and in the event of the officers being compelled to appeal to the voters for any favors—the extension of a franchise, a needed bond issue, or any other matter requiring action by the electorate—a friendly feeling will do much to turn the scales in the company or department’s favor at the election. The example of the San Francisco company could well be followed by many other utilities which, unfortunately have lacked the confidence and support of the public.