RISKING A WATER FAMINE.
In a recent interview on the subject of New York’s water supply Chief Engineer Birdsall is quoted as saying that, if the year had continued as dry as it was up to the latter part of June, the water in the Croton reservoirs would have been exhausted by this time. About half the storage, 20,000,000,000 gallons, had been used, as against 9,000,000.000 gal Ions during all of 1898. The remaining 20,000,000,000 of storage was equivalent to about 125 days* supply at 150,000,000 gallons a day. Mr. Birdsall said,if he had sufficient pumping apparatus he would use 10,000,000 gallons daily additional supply in the high service district, and if he had the mains laid and the water to spare, he would use an additional 10,000,000 gallons daily in the new Bronx district. The present consumption is about 285,000,000 gallons daily, and it will average fully 265,000,000 gallons in 1899. That is an increase of 22,000,000 gallons over 1898, and nothing can prevent an increase of at least 20,000,000 gallons daily the coming year, which will carry the consumption up to 285,000,000 or 290,000,000 gallons. Mr. Birdsall said he had pointed out to the commissioner of water supply five consecutive years in which the Croton did not furnish an average of 300,000,000 gallons daily. In regard to the two new forty-eight-inch mains laid from Central Park down Fifth avenue in 189G-97 to reinforce the supply and reinstate the pressure. Mr. Birdsall said they never had been opened but onehalf, and that had increased the consumption materially, while it did not affect the pressure to any great extent, lie would not predict what increase in consumption would result from opening the gates entirely but it would be a great deal. Their capacity is 50,000,000 gallons a day. While he believed in meters, he claimed that they would not stop the consumption of water, because Americans would not be restricted in their use of it. Furthermore, the sentiment was decidedly against meters, and the charter also prohibited them in dwellings. In regard to Brooklyn, Mr. Birdsall said the consumption would reach 97,000,000 gallons this yearns against 93,000,000 gallons in 1898, and 87.000.000 gallons in 1897. The consumption was increasing steadily, and was governed only by the supply; every possible available source was being utilized to eke out the latter. lie had no faith in driven wells, because they were unreliable, being suited only for small supplies of less than 5,000,000 gallons daily. Many of the present wells had to be shut down occasionally because of infiltration of salt water. From 1875 to 1890, said Mr. Birdsall, the city got along only with a short supply, and the occasions when it came near being exhausted were the cause of his gray hairs. The city was approaching a similar crisis now, and he did not care to go through it again, but apparently nothing would convince the people of the necessities except an absolute shortage of water, and he had almost hoped the drought would have continued until now, and thiiH furnished an object lesson. In conclusion, lie said it was only a question of whether the city should “ship along” a few years more on short rations and find its water supply exhausted, or look immediately for an additional supply of 500,000,000 gallons per day to answer for twenty years or more. It is said on good authority that the mayor and other officials, realizing that a material increase to the water supply must be made within two or three years, are determined to take definite action to that end at once. The responsibility is clearly upon them. The cost of such an enormous increase would be more than $100.000,000.
An early morning fire which broke out in the south wing of 8t.Vincent’s hospital, a five-story building, at Norfolk, Va , spread rupidly. From patients were burned to death and a nurse who jumped out from an upper window received fatal injuries. The whole hospital, in which were several inmates, w s destroyed One fireman was fatally hurt and another severely injured. Loss, about $300,000.