SOME OF THE DIFFICULTIES AND ADVANTAGES THAT HAVE ARISEN BY THE USE OF METERS IN A SOUTHERN CITY.
(Continued from last week).
IN order that I may put as shortly and as clearly as I can the grounds of my decision, and show what I conceive to be the fallacy of this argument, I must just state exactly how this water is supplied. The Sheffield company are bound to put mains in the street. They are bound to keep those mains charged with water at high pressure now, and having done that,every householder in Sheffield is free either to make use of the water in that main or decline to make use of it as he pleases. If he desires to make use of it, he himself makes the communications between his own house and the main, subject of course to all proper provisions for hiking care that he does no injury to the water works company in making the connection; and subject also to this, that the connections must he properly made, so as not to abstract more water than he is entitled to take, and not to do any injury of any sort or description to the water works company. For the domestic purposes he pays a rent, about which there is no dispute.
If he chooses to say that he wishes to have a bath supply, he is at liberty then to have his bath, and, on giving notice to the company, to make such a connection between the service pipe and his own house and the bath as will bring the water to the bath, and to draw off from the service pipe such water as he requires for the bath. It is plain therefore that the whole fallacy of the argument of the counsel for Mr. Bingham lies in this, that he treats the company as supplying the water, whereas the proper thing would be to say that he himself is at liberty to draw off the water for the bath. He takes the water. It is not the company that supplies it, and if he takes the water and gives it to himself, he is the only person who can, and he is the only person who must measure the water that he so takes, and tell the company how much water he has taken.
On that simple ground I come to the conclusion that the consumer is the person who must measure the water. He is, indeed, the only person who can measure it, because the company does not know either at what time, or under what circumstances, or in what quantity he may be minded at any moment to take the water for the use of the bath, and upon that ground, and that ground alone, I should come to the conclusion, if I had to deal with this matter as “res integra,” that Mr. Bingham and every other consumer, is bound himself to measure the water which he takes, and to keep a record of it, and to inform the company how much he has taken and how much he is liable to pay for.
Thus the defendant is bound at his own expense to measure accurately, by some sufficient automatic and selfregistering meter or other instrument, or in some other equally accurate way, and to record the amount of water taken from time to time and used in such bath, and to permit the plaintiffs at all statutory times to inspect (the defendant’s) mode of measuring and the record of the quantity of water so taken.
From my eight years’ acquaintance with the meter question, and believing, as I do, that a water company has the legal right to compel a consumer to furnish his own meter,
1 am, nevertheless, from a business standpoint, convinced that it is much wiser for a water company to furnish meters, charging for their cost and maintenance in the price of the water furnished.
In furnishing water to a municipality, it must be borne in mind that one is dealing with the uneducated and unthinking. as well as the enlightened citizens, and although the highest court in a state may decide that a certain principle contended for by a private water company is correct, there will always be many people whom such a decision will not convince of its injustice, and who will in many ways attempt to annoy and beat the company that has obtained a judgment against them.
I do not know how the advantages that have arisen by the use of meters to this plant can be better set out than by stating a few facts and figures. In 1888, when I took charge, we had 1,680 connections, the average daily pumpage being 530,000 gallons. In 1894 the number of connections was 2,780 and the average daily pumpage was 1.195,600 gallons. Thus, it will be seen, that while In six years’ time the increase in the number of connections was 76 per cent., the increase in the average daily consumption was but 125 per cent. This increase of consumption is small, considering that a sanitary system of sewerage has been in operation for the past four years. Many waterclosets, which have been found here to be the largest and most wasteful fixtures of water, have been connected to the mains since this sanitary system was constructed.
I learn that in a certain southern city, whose population is about twice that of Montgomery, the water department has 4,000 connections, and the average daily pumpage is 6,500,000 gallons. It is almost needless to remark to you. gentlemen, that, no meters are used there. Comparing this number of connections and daily pumpage with that of Montgomery should convince the most skeptical of what meters will accomplish, especially in a location where the water supply is limited or must be obtained at great expense from artesian wells.
After supplying for several years many residences and store consumers at the meter rate, without a meter, ninetysix meters were set with the result that the first year’s inincome from same averaged as follows;
A year later fifty more house and store meters were set, with the result that the income from same was as follows;
In considering these figures one must not only consider the revenue obtained,but remember that the meter is all the time acting as a check against waste; and if it were not for the meters large amounts of water would be constantly wasting, and for this the water company would receive no compensation.
The following table.made up from some of the large bills of metered customers, which I have personally investigated the past year, may prove interesting as well as suggestive, bearing in mind that the allowance to avoid an excess payment is 220 gallons per day;
Restdenee 690 89 No reason discovered 75 855 41) (Inset leakIng 220 580 I Kitchen faucet wasting and closet leaking 180 648 49 Stop and waste leaking 150 910 86 Underground leak 88 (144 68 198 Store 842 42 Closet leakIng 800 2640 89 862 14I 62 (loset leaking and under ground leak 182 586 65 l~rInal leaking 72 1017 28 Closet leaking 118 1224 80 Closet leaking and faucet al lowed to waste 187 Convent 1825 90 Closets leaking 788 Oftlcebldg. 1788 34 `l’wo riosets leaking 254 Lumberyd. 590 62 “loset leaking 98 Stable 7?3 49 200 Lodg. rms. 1616 41 299 Tenement 2422 63 Servants’ closet leaking 708 1556 68 Closet leaking 606 Barbershop 800 59 ” 74 1180 4? ` 224 Grocery at. 700 94 Urinal running 212 Bottl’g wka 2625 28 Closet worn out 557 Saloon and Sl’p’g rms. M50 88 Two closets leaking 280 R.1~. office 1030 ?3 Basin faucet and urinal leaking 135 Ptng. shop 1080 36 Closet leaking 257