THE DENVER WATERWORKS CASE
On January 17 last Mayor Speer, of Denver, addressed a letter to Frederic P. Stearns, who represented the City of Denver in the recent water company appraisement. The purport of his letter is embodied in the reply just received.
“BOSTON, JANUARY, 28, 1910.
“HON. R. W. SPEER, Mayor, Denver, Colo.
“DEAR SIR: I beg to acknowledge receipt of you letter of the 17th instant, calling my attention to certain features of the controversy between the City of Denver and the Denver Union Water Company, and making the following request for my advice:
“‘If you were an official of Denver, would you advocate: First, the city purchasing the plant, and if so, at what price? Second, the granting of a 20-year franchise; if so, what suggestions would you make as to the schedule of rates and how often should it be readjusted? Third, the building of an entirely new plant, without regard to the old company, Fourth, the offering of seven million dollars to the water company for their holdings; and if not accepted, the voting of eight million dollars for a new plant?’
“I will answer these questions in the order in which they are stated.
“First—If I were an official of Denver, I would advocate the purchase of the water plant by the City of Denver at the price named by the board of appraisers; namely, $14,400,000, unless the water company could be induced to accept a lower price.
“Second—If for any reason the plant could not be purchased, I would then advocate the granting of a 20-year franchise, if a suitable schedule of water rates could be agreed upon. In my judgment, the water company could afford to base its water rates on a low rate of interest return upon the appraiser’s valuation of its property, if it were assured by the city that no readjustment of rates would be demanded until the annual gross earnings had increased say 50 per cent, above the annual gross earnings at the beginning of the 20-year period. If the rates at the beginning of the 20-year period were low, I believe one, or two readjustments within that period would be sufficient, but I think it preferable to fix the dates of readjustment by the amount of gross earnings, or by some other amount which will serve as an index of the growth of business of the company rather than by the number of years from the beginning of the 20-year period. The faster the business grows, the more frequently the rates should be reduced.
“Third—I would not advocate the building of an entirely new plant without regard to the old company.
“Fourth—I would not advocate the offering of $7,000,000 to the water company for their holdings and the voting of $8,000,000 for a new plant, if this sum is not accepted.
“My reasons for these answers are as follows;
“I believe in municipal ownership of waterworks, especially in the case of large cities. This view, which I have held for many years, has been strengthened by my participation in controversies between the water company and the city, in Denver and in two large cities on the Pacific coast.
“Municipal ownership means a reduction in the rates of interest on the money invested in the plant, which is an important factor in the annual cost of water, the avoidance of litigation between the city and the water company, which seems to be an inevitable accompaniment where water is supplied by a company, and the ability to raise sufficient money to build works on a liberal scale when works so built will prove more economical in the long run.
“In the present instance the city has the opportunity to buy the plant of the water company at the price named by the board of appraisers. This price exceeds by fully two million dollars the value of the works, according to my personal views, but I believe it would be better for the city to pay the price rather than to forego purchasing the works or to delay purchasing with the expectation that a lower price may be obtained by some subsequent arbitration or by condemnation.
“I do not believe that the company could be induced to accept the sum of seven million dollars for its holdings, and, therefore, give no weight to that part of the fourth question.
“I believe that the building of an independent water plant by the city at a cost of eight million dollars, or more, is undesirable.
“In making this statement, I assume that no decision would be given by the courts which would prevent the water company, with its large investment in plant, from continuing to supply water. Such action by the company would be necessary to the existence of the city until some other means of supplying water was provided, and, in my judgment, the company would continue to supply water indefinitely from its existing works. The independent works built by the city would, therefore, be a competing plant, supplying water to only a part of the inhabitants of the city at rates fixed in competition with such rates as the water company might fix in order to retain as much of the business as possible. Under such circumstances, it is my judgment that neither plant would be financially successful.
“On the other hand, if the city were to invest the larger sum required to purchase the existing works (thereby suppressing competition) and to make necessary additions to them, it would start upon a basis which should with good management insure a financial success from the beginning. In making this statement, I assume that works are a financial success which pay each year from the water revenue the cost of maintenance and operation, interest on bonds, and a sum equal to the annual depreciation of the physical plant.
“As the city grows and the sales of water increase, the financial conditions should improve to such an extent as to warrant the reduction of water rates from time to time unless the surplus receipts are applied to an increasing extent to payments for the extension of works and for retiring bonds.
“You will note that I advocate the granting of a 20-year franchise only if there is an insuperable reason why the water plant cannot be purchased.
“It is, in my judgment, better that the city should be supplied with all water by a company under a 20-year franchise than to introduce a competing plant, provided satisfactory terms can be agreed upon
“I believe the franchise should be for a 20-year term rather than any shorter period, because the longer period is necessary in order to enable the company to sell its bonds on favorable terms and to warrant it in expending sufficient sums to maintain at all times an adequate water supply for the city.
“Very truly yours,
“FREDERIC P. STEARNS.”
Allentown Waterworks Report.
In 1869 the city of Allentown. Pa., which has a population of about 50,000, purchased its waterworks, which have since been owned and operated by the municioality. The water is obtained from Schmitz’s soring and Crvstal soring, and is supplied by pumning to standpipe and direct. The total pumpage for the year from both springs, being 2,540,736,830 gallons. The pumping machinery consists of two Knowles pumps, each of 6,000,000-gallons capacity, an 8,000,000-gallon Holly engine and a 10,000,00-gallon d’Aurid engine. The distributing system includes 67.05 miles of mains with 466 public and private hydrants. The range of pressure is from 35 to 100 pounds. Of the total consumption for the year. 128,446,827 gallons passed through meters, of which there are only 159 in use. The proportion of consumption metered was 0.5 per cent. There are 11,884 services the proportion metered being 0.0133 and the proportion of receipts from metered water 0.126 per cent. of the total revenue of $88,749 for water rates. Contrary to the generally expressed opinion that the introduction of meters would be followed by a reduction in the revenue from water rates, the contrary seems to be the case, there being an appreciable increase in the receipts from this source, of $3,100 since the meters were first installed, while the average daily consumption of water has decreased 202,907 gallons, equivalent to 10 gallons per day percapita, showing probably a reduction to that extent in the water waste. It is worthy of note that the Allentown waterworks furnished during the year covered by the report, to churches, public buildings, fire companies, parks, etc., free water of an estimated value of $8,189, payment for which would have meant a handsome increase in the balance to the credit of the department of $13,842.
The Destructive Flood in Paris.
The destructive floods that have inflicted such serious damage on beautiful Paris are an awful example of the effects of wholesale deforestation. France is a highly developed agricultural country and the section through which the Seine and its tributaries flow especially, has been practically denuded of forest, the thrifty French population seeing more in the immediate gains from arable fields and vineyards than in the prospective benefits of forest lands. As a result, when the water from melting snows on the slopes of the undulating country, through which the Seine flows, was supplemented by an unusually heavy rainfall, the forests were not there to hold up the precipitation and yield it gradually as a source of fertility to the surrounding country, but every drop of water at once sought, by the most convenient water course, the quickest outlet to the ocean and Paris was in the route of the torrents thus swollen. The fate of the French capital should be a warning to the United States. The only difference is that our watersheds in area are miles tor the French meters and compared with our own rivers, the Seine is but a small brook. If, in spite of the efforts of the forestry bureau, or on account of lack of practical direction of those efforts, the lumber corporations should succeed in stripping the slopes of the mountain ranges of their protective and restrictive forests, the cities in the lower valleys of those rivers might experience floods to which that of Paris will be a mere bagatelle.
A Remedy for Electrolysis.
Superintendent Cotter, of the Springfield, Ohio, waterworks, is endeavoring to secure the adoption, by the street railroad companies in that city, of a plan for the prevention of damage to water pipes from electrolytic action, which has been a source of serious trouble in Springfield as in many other cities. His proposition calls for the installation, along the railroad lines in the districts affected, of a copper cable, of sufficient size to provide an easy path for the return currents back to the negative side of the generators. The low resistance offered by the copper will cause the current to prefer it to the high resistance iron pipes, with their frequent interruptions of still higher resistance lead calked joints, the cable to be strung along the poles that carry the trolley wires and connected every two or three hundred feet with the carefully bonded and cross-connected rails. By this means it is expected that the straying of wandering currents of electricity over and in and out of the pipe lines, will be prevented and electrolysis, as a source of damage to water mains and other underground systems, entirely eliminated. On its face, the plan appears perfectly practical and feasible and should it prove as successful as expected. water supply companies will owe a debt of gratitude to Superintendent Cotter for his suggestion of so simple a remedy for so serious a source of damage to their mains.
Gas Engines at Cohoes.
For supplying the motor-driven pumps of its municipal water filtration plant, the city of Cohoes, N. Y., has installed two Westinghouse gas engine driven, direct current generator sets, using producer gas as fuel. Both engines are of the three-cylinder type, 15×14 inches, and develop 125 horse-power They are direct connected to two 75-kilowatt, 125-volt Westinghouse direct-current generators. The output of these machines furnishes power for the motors driving the pumps of the city water supply, besides several other small motors about the plant, and the local lighting. The producer gas for this installation is derived from two 125-horse-power 5-25 Westinghouse gas producers. The use of the gas producer in connection with the gas engine in a small plant of this kind is found to secure many advantages of economy, efficiency and ease in operation, over the equivalent combination of boilers and steam engines. The large number of such as producer plants which have been installed in this country attest the increasing popularity of this modern type of power plant.
Chief Engineer Lynch Honored.
On the second instant John T. Lynch, Chief engineer of the Holyoke fire department received honorable mention and substantial recognition for the valuable service he has rendered the city during the twenty-five years he held that position. Some time past the members of the department and admirers of Chief Lynch have been preparing to show their appreciation of his long and honorable career and they finally decided to present him with a valuable diamond ring, while the board of fire commissioners added an increase of $250 a year to his salary of $2,250. The proceedings accompanying the presentations were marked with much enthusiasm, and the warmest expressions of good will and appreciation were contained in letters from the mayor and chairman, C. L. Newcomb, of the Board of Fire Commissioners, which are given here. The presentation took place in the High street fire station, and Chairman C. L. Newcomb acted as spokesman of the occasion. When all had assembled Mr. Newcomb read the following letter from Mayor H. P. Avery:
“Mr. John T. Lynch, Chief Engineer of Fire Department, Holyoke, Mass.
“Dear Sir—As mayor of the city I beg to extend to you congratulations on the completion of twenty-five years of active service as chief engineer of the fire department. It is not often the good fortune of a man to serve his city so long in one capacity, and more seldom is it that his services are as honorable and distinguished as yours have been. Without fear or thought of self you have performed your duty, year by year, fighting to protect the lives of men, women and children, and the property of citizens. I am sure that I express the appreciation and gratitude of the people of Holyoke, and the hope that you may live to enjoy many more years of active duty.
“N. P. AVERY, Mayor.”
In presenting the diamond ring Mr. Newcomb read an address in which occurs the following: “We are brought together for the purpose of extending to John T. Lynch our congratulations on his services as chief of the Holyoke fire department for a period of a quarter of a century; and it gives me pleasure to have been selected by my fellow citizens, the firemen of the city of Holyoke, to extend these greetings to one that has devoted the best years of his life to the protection of the lives and property of the residents of the city of Holyoke.
“The Holyoke fire department had its first permanent inception in the organization of a hook and ladder company in 1861: and by 1870 had so demonstrated its needs that it had grown to six companies with quarters in three permanent engine houses, as shown by the report of that year made by Chief Crafts. When our present chief was elected to that office he answered in a year 34 calls. This has now grown to 351 calls.
“On that well-remembered day of disaster, the 27th day of May, 1875, the courage and loyalty of Holyoke’s handful of firefighters and the efficiency of her equipment were most thoroughly tested by the long-to-be-regretted burning of the French church; and most nobly did the department respond to the crisis. Although the loss of life was sadly large—because of the condition of the building and the environs of the situation—the bravery, efficiency and endurance of the none-too-wellequipped fire department brought forth the unstinted praise of our citizens and of the citizens of the country. The bravery and unflinching devotion to duty of John T. Lynch on that memorable occasion has gone down in the annals of city history, and had there then existed our present-day Carnegie hero fund John T. Lynch would grace its worthy and coveted list. But in the loyal hearts of his fellow citizens he took a place he has ever since so fittingly held, which is in some slight measure voiced by the sentiment that brings us together at this place and time.
“In recognition of his bravery and inherent worth, and his noble service shown by his long career, on January 31, 1885, 25 years ago, John T. Lynch was by good judges and conservative citizens very appropriately appointed chief of the Holvoke fire department, an eminence he has ever since graced. And as we to-day look back on these 25 years of remarkable service and the marked improvements that have been made in the department, when we consider the esteem in which the Holyoke fire department is held by kindred organizations of this country, we must give the major credit to our chief, and present in congratulations to him this beautiful gem with its perfect setting, its diversified planes reflecting all the colors of the rainbow, a jewel indicative of purity, is a fitting expression of the love and admiration in which our chief is held, and of the well wishes of the entire department.”
Chief Lynch, who had not recovered from his surprise, responded in a few words of thanks, when Judge John Hildreth, clerk of the fire board, read the resolution from the board increasing his salary to $2,500 a year. A copy of the vote was presented to the chief. Following the presentation of the gifts Chief Lynch was warmly congratulated by the firemen and city officials.
Firestone Truck Tire Demountable Rim.
A device that has proved its efficiency after many months of actual road service on motordriven vehicles of all kinds is the Firestone truck tire demountable rim illustrated herewith. This device simplifies the process of removing and replacing tires to such an extent that these changes can now be made by the driver right on the spot with only a few minutes delay. As will be seen from the accompanying illustrations, the tire is secured in the channel by the standard side-wire fastening, as in regular equipments. To the inner circumference of this rim is riveted a bevelled band. This hand has a section cut out to allow it to fit over the plate on the rim of the wheel, thus preventing creeping. A single-flanged rim is shrunk on the felloe of the wheel and the demountable rim is held in place by this flange on the inner side of the wheel and on the outer edge by two rings, the outer ring being held in place by the twelve bolts and nuts, the bolts passing clear through the felloe. As it is the work of only a few minutes to remove the damaged tire and rim and replace with a new one, this rim promises to become very popular.
Eire Report of Knoxville.
In his tenth annual report to the board of public works of that city, covering the fiscal year ending January 23, 1910, Chief Sam B. Boyd, of Knoxville, Tenn., traces the development of the department since he became its head, in February, 1900. At that time, there were 29 firemen, 2 engine and 2 wagon companies. The present force, all full paid, numbers 71 officers and men, with 5 engines, a first-size Metropolitan, a second and a fourth-size La France and 2 third-size Silsby steamers, and a full complement of trucks, chemical and hose wagons, all of modern type and 10,700 feet of hose. The number of runs made by the department during the year, was 215, the fire loss amounted to $63,221, of which $43,811 was covered by insurance. The chief reports houses and apparatus all in first class condition. The appropriation for the expenses of the department, for 1909 was $66,000, of which there remained, at the close of the year, an unexpended balance of $2,674. Chief Boyd embodies the following recommendations in his report:
That 200 new fire hydrants be installed in various sections of the city, money for same to come from that appropriation in the budget annually made for hydrant rental, since the waterworks system is now owned by the city. That a 24-inch main be laid on Gay street and that larger mains be laid on Market square and in the business section adjacent thereto. That standard thread hydrants and hose connections be installed by the city. That firemen be paid salaries according to a sliding scale, regulated by term of years served. That supernumerary firemen be guaranteed thirty dollars per month pay until they become regular members of the department.
Fire Commissioner David Isaacs of Niagara Falls had a narrow escape from serious injury last week responding to an alarm. He was at fire headquarters and attempted to get into the sleigh with Chief Otto Utz as he was leaving the barn, but missed his footing. He was thrown, turning a complete somersault before he finally landed in a heap of snow and slush.