Report on Buffalo Water Mains.
Following the breaking of the big water supply main, of the Buffalo water system in July, the engineers of the National Board of Fire Underwriters were sent there to make a thorough investigation and report. They also were instructed to report on the progress of the important improvements in the water supply system of the city now under way. The result of this investigation was reported to Colonel Ward, of Buffalo, in a letter from E. G. Richards, chairman of the committee of Buffalo, who says:
“The matter of a valve switch system for the discharge mains of the Buffalo waterworks pumping station, such as has been designed and recommended by the department of public works, has been again brought up by reason of a break in one of the mains on the morning of July 17, which resulted in depriving the entire high-pressure service of water for three hours. The high-service covers a large part of the residential section of the city and there is practically no storage, the capacity of the standpipe being only sufficient to supply the average consumption for less than half an hour.
“This break indicates that the opinion which has been held by some, that the present arrangement of valves and pipes does not necessarily endanger the continuity of the water supply, does not apply to the high service, although the lower service, covering the business sections of the city, with reservoir storage amounting to a little over one day’s supply, would not be so materially affected by such a break.
“While the time consumed in controlling this break seemed long it probably could not have been much reduced, since one of these large hand-operated valves cannot be closed in less than half an hour, and from 4 to 10 gates must be closed to control any single break; also, there is bound to be confusion and delay in getting the men on the ground and determining which valves are to be closed.
“It has never been disputed that some remodeling of the present valve system would be desirable, and in the light of the occurrences on July 17, it now seems absolutely necessary. At first sight, the proposed system appeared unnecessarily elaborate, but a careful study and knowledge of the situation gained by the engineers of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, now making an inspection of Buffalo, has convinced us, first, that no other system will give the same flexibility and degree of security, and second, that the size and unusual complexity of this portion of the Buffalo water system is such that a rearrangement essentially along the lines recommended by the department of public works, should be at once undertaken.
“If there is any probability of steps being taken at an early date to thus improve existing conditions, we w’ould greatly appreciate your advices, and if the co-operation of our engineers with your department will be serviceable to that end their services will be at your disposal.”