Recent Attacks on Cast Iron Pipe

Recent Attacks on Cast Iron Pipe

In at least two recent instances individuals have rushed into print in attacks on cast iron as a material for water pipe. In both of these cases, apparently, the writers have possessed only a superficial knowledge of the subject on which they have written. In the first instance the writer, in referring to breaks in New York mains, told of a case in which an official of Rochester, N. Y., in testing a batch of cast iron pipe, bad smashed every one, finding all defective. This tale Beckman C. Little, superintendent of the Rochester Water Works and Secretary of the American Water Works Association, in a letter reprinted from the New York Times of August 20 in FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING of August 20, proceeds to puncture. No record of any such occurrence, he shows, appears on the books of the department.

The second letter, written to the New York HeraldTribune, also refers to the New York City breaks and attacks cast iron as a material for pipe. This letter was answered by Thomas F. Wolfe, research engineer of the Cast Iron Pipe Publicity Bureau, in a later issue of the same newspaper, and the reply is reproduced on page 1396 of this week’s issue of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING.

In both of these instances the attacks seem to be inspired by a misunderstanding of the causes of the recent breaks in several mains of the New York City distribution system. There is a well known adage that mentions the rushing in of certain ill-informed individuals where those of perfect understanding fear to tread, and the cases cited seem to savor of this nature. Of course, it is not necessary to point out the fallacy of such assertions to those who understand the matter. But unfortunately letters of this nature can do an immense amount of harm and create very wrong impressions in the public mind. Coming, as they often do, from obscure, uninformed individuals, or “cranks,” as they are commonly known, such letters usually are designed either to satisfy the desire of some publicity seeker, or have behind them some selfish, ulterior motive, political or otherwise.

The average newspaper editor today who is the least bit concerned about the accuracy of the statements appearing in his paper usually submits communications of this nature to the proper authorities for verification of the facts. If water works men would only make it a point to come into a little closer friendly contact with their local newspapermen, the chances are that they would be given opportunity, before anything concerning the water works is published, to pass judgment on the facts.


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