The Bexley System of Emptying Cesspools.
In small towns or villages in rural districts, says The Builder, where facilities of sewage disposal do not exist, as well as in connection with isolated mansions or cottages, cesspools appear to be inevitable, if we except the alternative of dry earth closets. Sanitarians are divided in opinion as to the merits of the two systems. While both systems have certain disadvantages, they have at the same time certain advantages, provided that they are constructed and used under proper conditions. To confine our remarks in this brief article to cesspools, it is self-evident that where those receptacles of filth cannot be dispensed with, they should be properly constructed and rendered impervious, and they should also be placed as far as possible from any dwelling. If we mistake not, the model by-laws of the local government board stipulate that no cesspool shall be placed within fifty yards of any dwelling—a very useful stipulation if it be strictly observed. But assuming that a cesspool be properly constructed and located, something more has long been wanted, viz., a method of emptying it by day or by night without causing intolerable nuisance to the whole neighborhood during the operation.
Such a method has been devised and brought into operation at Bexley and Bexley Heath by Mr. E. Reeve Boulter, the surveyor to the Bexley local board, and recently we had an opportunity of witnessing it in operation at Bexley Heath. Mr. Boulter, of course, does not claim that the whole details of the method adopted by him are novel, but he does claim, and apparently with justice, to have introduced certain improvements on pre-existing methods. He has, however, sought no protective patent rights, but places the results of his practical experience at the disposrl of all surveyors and sanitary inspectors and health authorities.
The plant used at Bexley consists of two iron tank vans each holding about 400 gallons; two of Waller’s cesspool pumps, 280 feet of leather hose, to connect the vans with the pumps, two lengths of suction pipe to connect the pumps with the cesspools, and one hose reel. So far there is nothing novel, except in points of detail.
The vans are made by Messrs, flora of Camberwell. Each is provided on the top with a screw-down air-tight manhole (only opened for the periodical cleansing of the van); with a flat n shaped pipe connection for the attachment of the hose ; with a simple automatic cork float indicator to show when the van is nearly full ; and with an air cock of special construction to allow of the innocuous escape of air from the interior of the van as it becomes displaced and driven out by the matter pumped into the van. It consists of a short length of metal tubing with a cock surmounted by a metal basin, five or six inches in diameter ; this basin or cup is in its turn surmounted by a hinged wire-barred cap or cage. The basin or cup, and, indeed, the whole of the space within the cage is filled with wood shavings and chips saturated with “ Sanitas ” fluid, and kept moistened as often as may be necessary. When the van is about to be pumped into, this air cock is opened, allowing the air expelled to pass through without the least offense to the nearest passerby or to the nearest house with open windows. The hose may, if necessary, be brought through a passage or room without causing any nuisance.
The modus operandi is to open the cesspool, pour in a sufficient quantity of deodorizing fluid, consisting of manganate of soda (a green powder) diluted with water, and then to stir the whole contents with a pole so that they become thoroughly mixed ; such is the power of the deodorant that this operation is rendered inoffensive to the sense of smell. The suction pipe is then inserted, and the contents of the cesspool pumped into the tank van. Should one van become full before the cesspool is empty, of which fact the float gives indication, the order is given to cease pumping for a moment, and the end of the hose is disconnected from one van and connected to the other, an ingenious metal diaphragm arrangement coming into play to retaint the contents of the hose pipe, even though the latter be placed in a recumbent position. The vans when full are taken on to agricultural or market garden land, and the contents discharged into plow furrows as the van travels along. The arrangements for discharging the contents consists of a short length of hose depending from an opening seven inches in diameter in the bottom of the van and toward the rear. This opening is stopped by a conical ground-in-plug, raised or lowered by a rod and screw from the top of the van. To fa cilitate the complete emptying of the van, there is an arrangement for slightly tipping it.
At Bexley the work is carried out by the local board staff, under the direction of the surveyor, at a moderal scale of charges, £1 is. being charged for emptying a cesspool containing not more than 1200 gallons, graduated up to £2 5s. for a cesspool of 3000 gallons capacity. Since August I, 1890, when the system came into operation, nearly 300 cesspools have been emptied by the board’s staff.
ANOTHER PROJECTED PIPE LINE TO Chicago.—Advices from Chicago state that a company is to be incorporated to lay a pipe from Elmhurst to Chicago, in order to bring the water of the springs at that place to the city. The company will have a capital stock of $1,000,000, and will be backed by the Elmhurst Spring Water Company. The distance from Elmhurst to Chicago is sixteen miles, and there is a fall of 135 feet. The spring has a capacity of 50,000 gallons a day. A right of way has been secured, and an ordinance is needed. It is proposed to take the line as far south as the Exposition grounds if permission can be obtained to enter the enclosure. W. E. Hogan, J. E. Mills and F. Gandis are interested in the scheme.
THE IRRIGATION Convention.—From present appearances the irrigation convention, which is to be held at Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 15, 16 and 17, will be a most important gathering, interest in it becoming more and more widespread in the West. To secure the organization of the Utah delegation a meeting of the appointed delegates has been held at Salt Lake City, a chairman elected until the meeting of the convention and committees appointed to arrange preliminary details, obtain needed details of information as to the extent of arid land in the State, the quantity reclaimable by reservoir irrigation, etc. Delegates have also already been appointed by the Governors of Montana and Idaho, and it is reported that the Governors of California and Arizona have also named them from their States.