Street Cisterns Provide Auxiliary Water Supply

Street Cisterns Provide Auxiliary Water Supply

At the time of the 1900 earthquake and resulting fire in San Francisco, all existing water mains were ruptured by the shifting earth. As a result, fires raged on for days unchecked. In many districts underground water storage tanks were in use as a forerunner to the water main system. At the time of need it was discovered that of the sixty cisterns in existence many had fallen into a sad state of disrepair and some had been cracked open by the quake. As a protection against such disasters in the future, more and better cisterns were constructed. Of the sixty constructed prior to 1906 forty are in use today.

The older ones are of brick construction and have a capacity of 15 to 30 thousand gallons. Today there are 150 cisterns in service. The newer ones are constructed of reinforced concrete and have a capacity of 75,000 gallons. All are round or oval shape to eliminate square corners that have a tendency to leak. A cross section view would show them to be jug shaped with a neck three feet in diameter and five to six feet long reaching to the street level. The storage chambers average 18 feet in depth. The neck is topped with an easily removable manhole cover.

The first were constructed in 1854 and several of these are still in use. The newest was constructed in 1947 and has a 75,000 gallon capacity and is located near the San Francisco Legion of Honor.

It is the duty of the fire department to see that the cisterns are maintained, and this responsibility has been delegated the high pressure distribution system, of which Chief Rudolph Shubert is in charge. They are inspected monthly and refilled to street level from external sources when neccessary.

This Manhole Marked Cistern is a Familiar Site in San Francisco. It is One of 150 Such Water Storage Cisterns Located Strategically Throughout the City for Use in Case of a Failure of the Water Main System

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