St. Paul’s Water Supply System.
The report of Attorney Folsom of the water board of St. Paul, Minn., together with the annual reports of Secretary Caulfula and Superintendent Overton to the board, were made recently and, in view of the oft-repeated assertions which have been made as to the danger of a water famine in that city, have attracted much attention. Mr. Folsom sees no ground for any such apprehension. He says:
In regard to present and additional sources of supply I cannot express myself better than to refer to my report for the year 1886. It is demonstrated that the whole drainage of the Rice lake water-shed contains an area of 154 square miles, adding four-fifths to the present water supply. This, together with the forty square miles of drainage now received in the city by the present completed works would give a total of 194 square miles of drainage. Since that date other surveys have been made and thirty square miles more maybe added, making a total of 224 square miles of drainage ground.
If the flood of rain and melting snow that falls on this area is wisely stored in the lakes that fill a large part of the drainage ground, there will be no want of water; but as it is, the daily use of water for the year 1889 is an average of 8,000,000 gallons per day. and this supply was entirely from the forty square miles of drainage within the limits of Ramsey county, and there has been no want of water. The supply has been equal to the demand, yet the rainfall for the year 1889 has been less than fourteen inches, whereas the normal rainfall for the last thirty years the records give as 28.30 inches, showing the fact that the year 1889 so far has been the dryest year on record.
Assuming as a fact that forty square miles of drainage has given 8,000,000 gallons of water daily this year, then, under the same conditions and like circumstances governing the additional 184 square miles of drainage ground now tapped by the new line of works, would give an additional supply of 36,000,000 gallons, making an aggregate of 44,000,000 gallons daily, and the character of the whole country being nearly alike in contour, dotted over with forty sparkling lakes containing an area of 16,200 acres of water or twenty-five and one-both square mile? of water—assuming these statements and figures to be practically correct, there will be plenty of water for a long time. The rains will soon appear ; the complaint will then be that there is too much rain. As to the quality of water used in St. Paul, twenty years’ use has demonstrated its purity.
During the past fall and summer considerable has been said in the newspapers and otherwise in regard to the new waterworks for the future and where the water should come from. I have not found water in sufficient quantity to supply St. Paul with more water than the present system will give, as I have stated, without extensive pumping machinery, as it is always desirable to supply large cities by gravitation if found expedient. The largest body of water of sufficient elevation that would permit the water to reach St. Paul by gravitation is the Mille Lacs, at an elevation of 378 feet above Vadnais lake. This water can be brought in an aqueduct. The distance is 81 miles. The approximate cost of the conduit built by the board in 1884 was $20 per lineal foot, exclusive of its appurtenances. It would, therefore, be safe to say that this 81 miles of aqueduct would, in round numbers, cost $8,553,600. The water-shed of the Mille Lacs is small and it is problematical if it could be relied upon to furnish a large supply for a city. I trust the time is far remote when this sum of money will be required for the introduction of a new water supply.
By consulting the reports of the chief engineer of the United States Army I could find no elevation on the St. Croix river of sufficient altitude to bring water by gravitation until a point some distance above the mouth of Snake river is reached. I therefore dismiss the St. Croix river as impracticable for a gravity system.
Another source of supply, if pumps are to be used, is the Mississippi river. Pumps can be placed 25 miles above St. Paul and the water forced into our present system of lake storage, through pipes, a distance of about seven miles.
During the year past the receipts of the water department were $685,021, and the disbursements $691,359. The consumption of water averages about 8,000,000 gallons a day.
During the year there have been 1818 services added, making a total of 9052, an increase of 7044 since the works were purchased by the city in 1882. Thirty-five miles and 4963 feet of new mains have been laid, making a total of 166 miles of mains now in use.
The cost of building the new pumping station at Baldwin lake, where a pump with a daily capacity of 10,000,000 gallons has just been started, and the additional cost of securing right of way and connecting the lakes of this system will be about $35,000. This comes under the head of “ construction,” and the board has this year paid $44,438.48 under this head, due for the building of the high service reservoir, completed a year ago.
The bonded debt of the city for water-works purposes has been increased during the year by the issue of $200,000 of 4½ per cent bonds. The $160,000 of old water company’s 8 per cent bonds have been paid during the year by the issue of an equal amount of 4½ per cent city bonds, a saving of $5600 annually in interest. The present bonded debt is $2,360,000, and the annual interest is $110,205, and is paid from the revenues of the works.
The works are self-sustaining, the water taxes collected paying the operating expenses and the interest on the bonds. The water rates for four-room dwellings is $3 a year ; for five-room dwellings, $4 a year, and for larger dwellings 30 cents per room additional. The meter rates are from 10 to 20 cents per 1000 gallons, according to the quantity used.
Plans have been prepared for laying nineteen miles of new mains in the high service and two miles four thousand feet in the low service next year, at a total estimated cost of $144,419.50. The low service additions are to be mainly on the west side and in the Fifth ward out West Seventh street. high service will be extended largely in the north and west sections of the St Anthony Hill district, the Midway district, in the North Rice street district, in Arlington Hills and on Dayton’s Bluff.
The question of adding to the water supply by artesian wells has been considered by the board, and it has been decided to sink a well at the Vadnais station and another at the new Baldwin lake station, and turn their flow into the conduits. If these experiments result in what is expected, a system of artesian wells, connecting with the works at different points in the area traversed, may be established.