The practice of using hydrant water for street-sprinkling wagons has been adopted in nearly every city to a greater or less extent In many cities this is done by contractors who furnish their own horses and wagons, taking water at fire hydrants or especially constructed standpipes.
The value of the water so taken is computed in various ways according to the established practice in each locality or as the contractor can bargain with the water company or department. Often the street is measured, and a charge is made per lineal foot per month or by the season; some keep a record of the number of loads of water taken each day and charge accordingly. The latest and most approved method is by attaching a suitable meter to each wagon, using one with a capacity equal to the stream taken from the hydrant, and a proper charge per thusand gallons made for the water. This, no doubt, is the most satisfactory, and a meter for this work can easily be obtained and attached to the wagon. By this method streets that require but little water can be sprinkled two or three times per day, and those requiring more attention could he sprinkled as often as necessary, ami the wagon made to cover more streets. The average driver of a sprinkler wagon puts too much water on the street, which on a paved street runs into the gutter, and on unpaved streets makes mud, to the annoyance and complaint of owners of good carriages and bicycles.
If a charge is made by lineal feet it is often difficult to arrive at a fair estimate of the water required, streets varying in width, some protected by trees, some simply dirt roads, others macadamised or paved with brick or asphalt. In the case of pawed streets, if thoroughly cleaned by sweepers or white wings, the amount of dust is greatly reduced, and less water is required than on very dirty streets, where the least wind stirs up a cloud of dust.
The ordinary charge by contractors for streetMirinkling varies from one cent to two cents per foot from per month, which is paid by the property owners on the street, and, if not paid, can be assessed upon the property as taxes. A law has recently been enacted in Ohio which places the streetsprinkling in the hands of the city authorities, and. by the petition of thirty-five per cent, of the voters, the city council can order such streets sprinkled as they think best, and the actual cost of such sprinkling is placed upon the general city tax duplicate. This is upon the theory that streetsprinkling is of a general benefit to all the people, the same as street lighting, street cleaning, etc.
In some cities that have adopted this method during the past season, the city has purchased sprinkler wagons and employed drivers who owned their teams, paying the usual price per day for team work. This has proved very satisfactory, and. no doubt, is the most economical method for the people, as only the actual cost of team work, wagons, and water is made, and people get their streets sprinkled at actual first cost, which in some cases has been as low as one-half cent per foot front per month. If the city owns the waterworks, that department should have credit for the value of the water taken, the same as if owned by a company. In some cities with well paved streets fairly well cleaned, each wagon can cover about four miles; but where street^ are dirt or macadamised and not often cleaned, it will often require two wagons for the same distance. The question of streetsprinkling is one that involves the use of large quantities of water, and is of benefit and comfort to the people, if they do not want to breathe the poisonous dust blown in every direction.
•Paper read at sixth annual convention of the Central States Waterworks association, Indianapolis. September, 1902.