SPRING RAINS AND NEW YORK’S WATER SUPPLY.
MAY, 1901, will go down to posperity as the wettest that New York has ever experienced. In May 1886, fell the next greatest rainfall officially recorded for thirty years in this city—namely 6.53 inches. In 1877, the lowest was recorded—namely,0.73 of one inch. This year’s “Month of Flowers” shows a most unhappy record. Up to Monday last inclusive—twenty-seven days—on which day the rainfall was 1.6 inches, there were only nine days during some hour of which it was not raining. Of the twenty-seven days there have been eight during which the sun shone at fitful intervals— just long enough to allow a man to forget his umbrella, and on twelve days of the twenty-seven sunshine was a thing of dim recollection only, it having rained almost every hour. This record had not been equaled since 1886 until 1898, when it was surpassed. During the soggy May of that year, there were twenty-one days in which the rainfall exceeded .01 of an inch. The months of April and May together—putting bleak winds and general wretchedness out of the question— have beaten all previous official weather records. The April average rainfall for thirty years is 3.29 inches. Last April the total rainfall was 6.82 inches, or 3.53 inches above the normal average. This record has not been even approached since 1874, when the April rainfall w as 7.02 inches. The lowest was in 1899—namely, 1.23 inches. During last April there were but six clear days. It rained during nineteen of the thirty days, and the five remaining days of the month were damp and overcast. Thus the combined rainfall for April and May up to May 27, was 12.24 inches. This is the greatest precipitation that has occurred in New York during April and May within the last thirty years. During the fifty-seven days of the two months up to date there have been but fourteen days of sunshine,and in that time it has rained during thirty-dve! It would, of course, be hardly possible in the nature of things that Ihere should not be some compensation for all this display of superfluous energy on the part of Jupiter Pluvius. It is to be found in the fact that there can be no scare as to a water famine in Greater New York,and especially in the boroughs of the Bronx and Manhattan. The water supply department announces that “every reservoir used by the city in Greater New York is full to overflowing.” Chief Birdsall says that, long as he has been in the department, he
cannnot recall when New York had more water than it has today. If we had the Ramapo watershed now, we should not know what to do with it. We have stored in Westchester and Putnam counties enough water to supply the city with 200,000,000 gallons a day for 220 days. That means, that, if the Croton river ran dry tomorrow,and the distributing reservoirs gave way, we should still have enough water in storage to last for seven months. It will make no difference (he added) what the summer brings forth in the way of rain. If the season should be as dry as they have it in the desert of Sahara we should have plenty of water to spare. In lake Mahopac and neighboring ponds there are 1,600,000 gallons; Boyd’s Corners reservoir has 2,700,000 gallons; Middle Branch reservoir, 4,000,000,000 gallons; East Branch reservoir, 8,000,000,000 gallons; Titicus reservoir, 7,000,000,000 gallons; West Branch reservoir, 10,000,000,000 gallons; Muscoot reservoir,7,000,000,000 gallons; and White Pond reservoir, 200,000,000 gallons. We could not possibly store another gallon of water unless we had more reservoirs. Today water is running to waste over the dam of Croton lake to the extent of 400.000,000 gallons daily! Brooklyn and Queens can tell the same tale, and the only trouble about this plenteous water supply is, that people will form still more wasteful habits and use the water as if it were inexhaustible, only, perhaps, to be pulled up again with a round turn next year. The very abundance of the water supply may, very likely, serve to put off the day of the compulsory use of meters to a more convenient—in truth, a more inconvenient season—when, perhaps, the stem reality of a water famine shall stare us in the face.