Racine’s Water Plant
The water system recently purchased by the city of Racine, Wis., from private ownership, was established in 1886. It is a standpipe and direct pressure system. An abundant supply of water is obtained from Lake Michigan through a cast-iron intake pipe, 24 inches in diameter, extending 7,240 feet into the lake, and laid ten feet below the bottom. The end of the pipe is turned up, and is protected by a substantial crib in 40 feet of water. The pumping station, which is a well built brick structure, is located on the shore of the lake, directly north of the mouth of Root River. It is furnished with a triple expansion pumping engine of a daily capacity of 4,000,000 gallons, built and erected by E. P. Allis & Co., Milwaukee; a Prescott triple expansion pump of 5,000,000; a Worthington triple expansion pump of 3,000,000, and a Blake compound with a capacity of 2,250,000 gallons per day. Also a battery of three boilers, each 231 horse-power. The intake or supply enters a screen well 14 feet in diameter and 20 feet in depth. The supply through the intake has been augmented by producing an artificial head. This was done by conducting the water to the bottom of a well, or shaft, 45 feet in depth, adjoining the screen well and connected with it, where there has been placed a centrifugal pump for the purpose of lifting the water, to feed the suction pipes, from the pumping engines running from the screen well. The centrifugal pump is operated by a Westinghouse engine of 100 horsepower.
The plant began to pump water January 11, 1887. The water tower, or standpipe, is located on T enth street, about one and a quarter miles from the pumping station. It is upon the highest ground in the city, being at an elevation of 55 feet. The standpipe is of iron and 25 feet in diameter, 90 feet in height and its capacity is 330,480 gallons. It stands upon a concrete pedestal 55 feet high, so that the top of the standpipe is 200 feet above the lake level.
The whole structure is enclosed in a very substantial castellated brick tower, with a roof of concrete, and presents a pleasing appearance. This was erected in 1887 for the purpose of protecting the standpipe from high winds and extreme cold. The standpipe was first filled January 27, 1887. The present pressure of the plant is from 80 to 85 pounds. The street mains of the plant range in size from 24 to 6 inches and cover 82 miles of streets. New mains are laid from year to year, according to requirement, but new mains will be needed to care for the city’s growth. The mains cross Root River in four places and are of a diameter of 24, 20 and 8 inches, respectively, at the crossings. The street mains are all standard weight and quality and unusually well supplied with gates, so that in case of extensions or repairs, but a very small portion of the system need be deprived of water.
The first piece of pipe was laid July 1, 1886, and the original pipe laying was completed Nov. 13, 1886. The first private consumer was supplied Feb. 1, 1887. At present the fire hydrants number 775, ten being placed upon each mile of street main.
The plant has been operated under a contract with the city, the contract running 25 years from the date of its acceptance in 1887, and at the expiration of that period, other arrangements were made. Under the first contract the required domestic pressure was 55 pounds, but that has been done away with and, as stated above, the pressure now furnished is from 80 to 85 pounds.
At the present time there are 9,300 active patrons, of whom about 8,000 are supplied with meters, all of the large consumers being so supplied. The water rates for domestic, city and manufacturing purposes have been considered too high for years, and it is this fact that brought about the agitation and determination of the city to buy the property.