Report on Water Supply at Hamilton, O.
On October 21, 1910, a communication was received from A. C. Gressle, superintendent of the waterworks of Hamilton, requesting advice of the proper means of removal of tastes and odors from the public water supply. On October 26 and 27, 1910, one of the assistant engineers visited Hamilton for the purpose of ascertaining the cause of the trouble with a view to determining the proper remedy. The following report was submitted: Hamilton is located in the south-central portion of Butler county, on the Great Miami river, which flows in a southerly direction through the central portion of the city. Hamilton is primarily a manufacturing city and possesses many industries of size and importance. The city is enjoying a rapid growth and has a present population of about 35,000. It is provided with many municipal improvements, including a public water supply, sewerage, a municipal lighting plant, a municipal gas plant and about fifteen miles of well-payed streets. The sanitary conditions within the city are well taken care of, and the streets and alleys are maintained in a cleanly state. For the years from 1891 to 1909 the average annual death rate was 1,387, and the average typhoid fever death rate was 32 per 100,000 population.The first public w-ater supply was installed by the city in 1884. at a cost of about $300,000. At this time the supply was obtained from a large open basin, 500 feet long by 100 feet wide and 15 feet deep, excavated in the gravel deposits of the Miami river valley just north of the city. From this basin the water was conducted by gravity to a pump well beneath the pumping station, which was built in the extreme northerly portion of the city, about 1,000 feet south of the basin. The first installation also included the construction of a large open reservoir situated on Wilson Hill, in the southwestern portion of the city. This reservoir, which is still in use, has a capacity of 6,000,000 gallons, and acts as a means of securing storage and equalized pressure. The supply obtained from the open basin proved unsatisfactory, and in 1889 a number of tubular wells were driven in the bottom of the basin. These wells were connected to the old gravity line, which extended from the basin to the pump well, and the water flowed from the wells by this means. During the follow ing ten years no changes were made in the method of obtaining or handling the supply beyond the addition of supply wells. About 1900 a municipal gas plant was constructed immediately north of the old waterworks pumping station. The wastes from this plant contaminated the water supply by seepage through leaky joints of the old gravity line, and created objectionable tastes and odors in the water. To remedy this a low lift pumping station was placed near the supply wells, and by this means the gravity line was converted to a force main This improvement effectually prevented the contamination of the supply by gas plant wastes. The leaky condition of the old gravity line, however, permitted excessive water wastes, and it became necessary to make further improvements. The supply was, however, handled in this manner until 1907. In 1907 extensive improvements were made in the waterworks. These included the construction of a new low lift pumping station and force main, a new collecting reservoir and pump well and the installation of a new six million gallon high duty pump. At this time the old pumping station was abandoned and the new station was combined with the lighting plant. Since these improvements have been made the waterworks have undergone no extensive changes. The supply is at present obtained from driven wells obtaining their water from gravel deposits in the valley of the Miami river. There are 20 of these wells, 18 of which are used. All wells are connected to one suction and the water is lifted by centrifugal pumps at the low lift station and forced through a 24-inch main to a collecting reservoir located near the pumping station. This also acts as a pump well for the high service pump and the water is forced into the distribution system, upon the highest point of which is located a reservoir, designed for storage and equalized pressure. Pumping is carried on at the low lift and high duty stations about nine hours each day and during the remainder of the day the water consumption is supplied by the storage reservoir. This storage reservoir was constructed at the time of the original installation of the waterworks in 1884. It is located on the top of a high hill overlooking the built-up portion of the city ami situated in the extreme southwesterly portion. The city owns ten acres on the summit of this hill. The reservoir is an open basin 202.5 feet by 132.5 feet at the bottom and 270 feet by 200 feet at the top, and has a depth of 20 feet to the inlet pipe. Its capacity is, therefore, 6,000,000 gallons As first constructed the sides and bottom of the reservoir were lined with brick, but not cemented, and there was frequent trouble from growths of various kinds which appeared. The interior of the reservoir, however, was cement lined several years after its construction, and after that time no trouble with growths was experienced until at least 1900. There is every indication that growths occurred in the reservoir after 1900, however, but the resultant odors and tastes were masked by the more decided odors and tastes caused by the contamination by the gas plant wastes, as previously described. In connection with the general improvements made in 1907 the Wilson Hill reservoir was cleaned in the summer of that year. Previous to the cleaning very objectionable tastes appeared in the water supplied to the consumers. It was found that at the bottom of the reservoir a dark-colored, slimy sediment had collected to a depth of 10 or 12 inches, and above this to a depth of about feet, a very luxuriant growth of aquatic plants was found. After a thorough cleaning the water remained satisfactory until the fall of the year, when tastes again appeared. In the early part of the following summer tastes again appeared and were removed by cleaning, only to reappear in the fall of the year. The same conditions appeared in 1909. It was necessary to clean the reservoir in April of that year on account of the tastes, which appeared somewhat earlier than usual. Immediately after cleaning the water was satisfactory, but two months afterwards the objectionable tastes had reappeared. A second cleaning was therefore done in the early part of July and relieved matters temporarily, but the objectionable tastes again appeared about September 15 and have increased in intensity since that time. The appearance of objectionable tastes and odors in the public water supply of Hamilton has been confined to the warmer portions of the year. Trouble has never been experienced earlier than April, and the objection has always disappeared before November. During this portion of the year the tastes and odors are apparent in the water supplied through the distribution system only during that portion of the day when the high duty pump is out of service and the consumption is being furnished by the Wilson Hill reservoir. During the peration of the high duty pump the water supplied to the distribution system is free from the objectionable tastes and odors which characterize the reservoir water. These facts show conclusively that the objectionable tastes and odors have their origin in the reservoir. The odor of the water contained in the Wilson Hill reservoir is noticeable in the immediate vicinity, and while not extremely disagreeable, is unmistakably woody and slightly moldy. The taste of the water corresponds to the odor and may he described in the same terms. The appearance of the water in the reservoir is satisfactory it is clear and free from scum or turbidity due to growths, but possesses a faint greenish tint. On October 27, 1910, a sample of the reservoir water was collected for microscopic examination in the laboratory of the State Hoard of Health. This sample was taken at the bottom of the reservoir at the west end fartherest removed from the inlet and outlet. The examination revealed the presence of chlorophyceae in large numbers. No definite determination of the form of the algae was made. Since 1907, when the tastes and odors arising f r o m growths in the Wilson Hill reservoir were first noticed, attempts to obtain relief have consisted in cleaning the bottom and sides of the reservoir. The failure of this method to permanently remove the trouble has been shown previously in this report. Local officials have suggested to the waterworks authorities the supposed advantages of aeration of the water as it enters the reservoir for storage, and the maintenance of a low stage of water in the reservoir. These officials thought that by these methods of procedure the growth of the algae would be inhibited. In the light of available information on the subject, however, it appears that such methods of procedure would tend to promote rather than to inhibit the algal growths. They do not, therefore, offer a means of removal of the objectionable tastes and odors from the water. A substantial roof built over the reservoir will protect the water from the direct rays of the sun and thus prevent the growth of many forms of the organisms now present in the water. The present knowledge of what form of organism is causing the trouble at Hamilton is, however, incomplete, and therefore it cannot be stated definitely that thc covering of the reservoir with a roof would prevent the recurrence of objectionable tastes and odors. The use of copper sulphate to secure temporary relief, at least, appears to offer the most promise. In using tins chemical, however, extreme care is necessary, and it will be advisable to have it applied under the supervision of a representative of the State Hoard of Health. A safe and logical procedure in the application of copper sulphate may be outlined as follows: The reservoir should be drained so that there remains about one foot of water in the bottom. The copper sulphate solution in proper strength should be prepared and the walls and bottom thoroughly cleansed by the use of this solution. After this the reservoir should be completely drained and the sides and bottom washed. On March 14, 1910, work was begun by J. A. Tingling Sons on the sand pumping of our supply wells. However, two of the twenty wells were unfit for further use and four others in bad condition due to casings rusted and badly perforated. These are sufficient indications that the wells will not withstand another sand pumping, and with the increased demand on our system we will find it necessary to put down new wells or increase the number. This feature of our equipment should be ever kept in mind and work begun as soon as practicable. Would suggest that five new wells be driven to take the place of those now impaired, improving our supply, and also ascertain the quantity of water to be derived from new wells. The future needs of our city waterworks should be carefully and thoughtfully considered, and more especially the question of adequate supply. We should be intensely interested as regards our future water supply, and unless we acquire the entire island north of the city we are at some future time destined to experience difficulty in keeping our water pure and free front diseasebreeding bacteria. Should such conditions ever prevail it will then be necessary to chemically treat or filter all of our city water at a great cost, which will result in an increased water rate to our consumers. We have made numerous changes to our piping at our municipal station, benefiting greatly by these changes and improvements, much pipe fitting being necessary, incidental to the installation of the new intermittent water softening system, which is now giving excellent service. This is a valuable addition to our equipment, making our plant complete and up to date in every detail. An 8-inch cast iron suction pipe was laid from condenser pump to receiving well for emergency use, thereby eliminating the use of water from the city mains which would amount to 1,10(1,600 gallons in twenty-four hours. Since the sand pumping of our supply wells we have been able to obtain water from same at a reduced vacuum until recently, indicating less resistance in operation. As mentioned elsewhere two of these wells are out of use and four others are in bad shape owing to the rusted condition of the casings. The water in supply basin was at its lowest stage during the latter part of August and three weeks in Septemher, when we experienced a drouth of five weeks’ duration. With our average daily consumption, amounting to three million gallons, we did not suffer any water shortage during this time, as was experienced in many other cities throughout the land. The pumping machinery and motors at the low pressure station arc all in good condition, it not being necessary to purchase but a few repairs for automatic cornpensaters. The inspection of lire services lias Iteen regularly made, also the inspection of all off-taps, and we have found but few irregularities, which were satisfactorily adjusted. Heretofore this department has been inconvenienced greatly by unauthorized persons using public tire hydrants. We have overcome this difficulty by the issuing of a contract, and for which upon the payment of one dollar to cover cost of inspection, entitles the applicant to the use of one lire hydrant, designating location and length of time to be used; providing that all the water taken from same shall be metered. A penalty of ten dollars will be imposed to persons violating this rule. At our low-pressure pumping station, to prevent any oily deposit which collects from machine bearings entering discharge to receiver well, a 60-gallon capacity pumping unit was installed to prevent oil or grease getting into our waterworks system. Many remedies and suggestions have been offered, and everything that seemed practicable has been tried with but little results. We did not try the sulphate of copper treatment. 1 have on previous occasions advocated the adding of another reservoir, so that their use could be alternated, thus allowing the walls and bottoms to be exposed to the sunlight and air while empty, thus destroying all trace of algae growth which is causing all our trouble. Tlte aeration treatment was thought of by laying a system of perforated piping in bottom of reservoir and using air compressor to inject air for a period of time each day; likewise a method of aeration by the stand-pipe or fountain process. Neither of these would afford relief, as it is a known fact that the growth of algae is encouraged and multiplied by exposure to light and air. Upon our inability to correct the prevailing evil, which has been so embarrassing to the department, we thought the best solution for our difficulty would be to consult the authorities of the State Board of Health of Columbus, and upon our request for relief Mr. C. O. I’robst, secretary of hoard, sent their representative to collect samples and data. On October 26 and 27 the necessary samples were obtained and taken to the state laboratories for chemical and bacterial analysis. Wish to say in this connection that it may not he amiss to make some timely suggestions for the bettering of our waterworks system. We have already touched on the advisability of another reservoir, which would be a sure and permanent remedy for algae trouble, for, with a double reservoir system, we would be doubly protected against any emergency which might arise, such as high water disturbing our pumping operations, tires, or breakage to equipment and machinery, either of which would place us in very embarrassing circumstances. To maintain water at so low a stage is not at all satisfactory to either property owners or water department. Our supply wells will not resist another sand pumping, and it is imperative that we consider seriously this fact, l or with our wells delivering a reduced quantity of water we would be unable to furnish sufficient water for our increasing consumption. The time is not far distant when we will be forced to seek a greater supply, and our present location will not admit of any more wells without extending on other territory. At that time when the improvement spoken of shall be necessary we may find the land most desirable for ottr use appropriated for other purposes, and with factories, residences and other buildings, with their accompanying sew ers, privy vaults and other refuse to pollute the water we now use. we will then find it necessary to erect a filtration plant at a great cost, which will result in an increased water rate to our consumers. To suggest another pumping unit of 4,00o,000 gallons capacity of the centrifugal stage type, motor driven, would he a convenient addition to our system for auxiliary purposes. A pump of this type could be kept in operation after the large 6,000,000-gallon capacity pumps were shut down, keeping in circulation the water through mains and eliminating the possibilities of algae trouble to a great degree. The old Gordon-Mexwell pumps of 2,000,000 gallons capacity, after twenty-live years of constant use and nearly three years of idleness, has in no way been helpful iu preserving these pumps for hard service again. These pumps would not serve us for emergency longer than a term of ten days, providing that our reservoir was full when pumps were started, as we experienced during seven hours’ pumping with these old pumps that we lost six inches out of reservoir during this short time, thus showing that we cannot place much reliance in old equipment. To cover reservoir, which is supposed to be an effective prevention of algae, would entail a great expense, and rather than proceed with the remedy of a covered reservoir it would be more practicable to spend a little more on an improvement that will give us another reservoir, thus doubling our capacity. This would be very acceptable to the water department, and would allow us to keep water fresh and free from algae growth. This I believe to be the best solution of our water trouble, and as our city grows in size we would be prepared for every and all emergencies for the future. Incidentally it may be of interest for you to know that other cities are passing through troubles akin to ours and some much more serious. Water shortage is a great discommodity in many municipalities, Dayton, Ohio, being our nearest neighbor thus affected. Worse than water shortage is the impure or polluted supplies in many other cities. During the year we added 210 numbered services to our system, making a total of 5,518 services, including flush tanks; 5,251 are in use, 100 of w hich are flush tanks, and 250 of this number are to curb only. It is the purpose of this department wherever changes or extensions are made on flat rate services that such services shall be metered. Thus we hope to ultimately have every service in the city metered. Our department has had a number of violations on the flat rate services, resulting in the issuing of orders for meters to be placed on such services. We have 194 free services, through which water is given without any compensation whatever. Assuming our flat rate consumption to he 19,875,000 gallons, and our metered services selling 314,374,072 gallons of measured water, and our annual pumping output amounting to 910,140,614 gallons, we get an approximate estimate on the quantity of water used for the above named purposes, including fires, flushing of hydrants and waste through the various known causes. Our waste was perhaps greater during the year 1910 because of frequent emptying of storage reservoir and the flushing of fire hydrants to improve the condition of water. According to a very conservative hydrant rental, as compared with other cities, and the many purposes for which water is supplied without cost, wc are furnishing free water amounting to approximately $28,057.00. This amount added to the receipts of the water department for the year amounts to $43,549.29, and gives us some idea what our waterworks is worth to our city. We have set 377 meters during the year, making a total of 3,430 meters in use. Hereafter if the rules governing the placing of meters (in accessible positions and free from frost or exposure) is not strictly complied with this department will refuse to set meter or turn water on in such service. Suspecting that our city water was perhaps unwholesome, and not being satisfied to rely wholly upon all the suggestions offered and our own judgment, we solicited the assistance of the State Board of Health, who sent a representative to collect samples and data. After examining and analyzing the samples obtained the following report was received in regard to the condition of our city waterworks and its supply. We do not advocate the use of the copper sulphate treatment to better the condition of our city water during the warm months of the year, unless public sentiment is heartily in favor of its use. Many persons would rather forego the algae taste than to have water chemically treated, believing that that which would kill or remove a vegetable growth would perhaps be injurious to health. To securely cover our storage reservoir as suggested, so as to exclude light and air, would be extremely costly, and we are not definitely assured that this would remedy our trouble. The only sure remedy and which seems to be a practical solution of the trouble is the adding of another reservoir. With this kind of an arrangement we would be benefited in many ways, one of which is the greater storage capacity, insuring a sufficient supply for at least six days if pumping should cease, as the present supply would last but about three days with our present rate of consumption, should our machinery or equipment be impaired in any way. With two reservoirs connected together their use could be alternated, and thus be cleaned and aired, doing away with the algae trouble entirely and at the same time maintain enough water to keep city in perfect safety in case of fire, as the chances taken when reservoir is empty are too great. Doubtless the one thing of greatest importance and which will demand prompt attention is the system of supply wells. Our lowpressure pumping equipment is in first-class condition, but with the increased consumption the flow of water from wells is not as great as that given shortly after sand pumping was completed. This is shown on vacuum gage in low pressure station. I therefore recommend that steps be taken to replace all the old wells that we know to be in weakened condition. This work should be commenced as soon as weather conditions will permit, and will cost approximately $2,000. I know of no better suggestion to offer than the foregoing at the present time, as our space whereon wells are located is so limited that we have not room for another system of wells without getting on other property. For this very reason the city should lose no time in getting an option on the adjoining land, so that the same could be used when the time comes for enlarging our water supply system. The total profit for year 1910 was $15,492.29, and the number of consumers was 5,400. This department is furnishing water for the following purposes, for which we receive no credit: