The Kansas City Water Supply.

The Kansas City Water Supply.

The noted letter written to the Mayor of Kansas City, which notified his Honor that the National Water Company would cut off the city’s supply of water, is given herewith:

KANSAS CITY, MO., November 17, 1893. Hon. W. S. Cowherd, Mayor of Kansas City, Mo.:

Dear Sir—The National Water-works Company has received yours of the 11th inst., in answer to its inquiries of the 6th inst., whether Kansas City desires its services after the 15th inst., and if so what arrangements the city proposed to make in the premises. Your answer is entirely unsatisfactory. As the city has not purchased the works, and has alleged in its cross bill, and in many other ways, that it does not propose to, your reference to section 4 of the contract is utterly foreign to the point. However, we fail to discover any provision, even in that clause, that the company is to furnish water without being paid.

You say that “ the city desires and expects your (this) company to supply it with water,” and that the city is not only willing, but is also liable, to pay a fair compensation therefor.” It therefore only remains to fix the terms under which we are to serve you. The city owes us hydrant rentals from January 1, 1892, to November 15, 1893, amounting to about $145,000, and interest thereupon properly computed. The city has used water without objection and has never paid or offered to make any payment on account thereof, not even to the extent that you admit its obligation to pay. On the other hand the company has kept its contract in furnishing this water, despite the city’s wrongful refusal to keep its agreement to pay for the same, and in the face of an avowed purpose to embarrass the company financially and thereby to coerce it to accept such terms as the city might choose to dictate. As a result the company has been operating at a loss and has been compelled to incur large indebtedness to cover the deficiency.

Were it ever so willing the company could not continue to furnish water to the city without pay. The company is willing to supply water to the city in the same manner observed during the life of its contract.

First—If the city will make payment on account of water heretofore used by it, to the extent of eighty two per cent of the amount due, with interest.

Second—If the city will provide, by proper appropriation, for the monthly payment of rentals hereafter to accrue.

Third—-Such rentals to be fixed in accordance with the provisions of the contracts heretofore existing between the parties.

Under the view most favorable to the city, the testimony of its own witnesses, Messrs. Hermany and Holman, based upon the data furnished by City Engineer Donnelly and Assistant City Engineer Mitchell, makes the extreme limit of the deduction you could claim eighteen per cent. The overwhelming weight of the testimony is that the company has furnished even more than its contracts called for. But there is not even a suggestion in your letter that you are willing to pay the eightytwo per cent confessedly due.

It therefore only remains for me to say, that unless the city will pay this admitted indebtedness of eighty-two per cent with interest, and arrange to pay for the future supply, leaving the balance to be litigated between us, the company will, on Saturday, the 25th day of November, 1893, cease to supply Kansas City with water.

It must be distinctly understood, however, that as matters stand we shall continue to supply water to private consumers, and that we do not desire in any wise to prejudice or affect the rights of the city in other respects. This is a mere matter of paying an indebtedness justly due, and we are constrained to give you this notice with deep regret that it should be necessary to do so and only because your course in the premises makes it impossible for this company to do otherwise.

Yours respectfully,


President National Water-works Company.

The Kansas City Water Supply.


The Kansas City Water Supply.

THE report of the commission of engineers on the proposed new water-works, of Kansas City, Mo., is now before us. It is unfortunate that topographical considerations concerning the city are such that, in the judgment of the engineers, they deem it unwise to recommend a reservoir or standpipe system. Upon examination of the report, it shows that the engineers have made their plans and estimates based upon the possible per capita consumption per diem of 100 gallons, and for a population not exceeding 200,000 inhabitants. Three new pumping engines, each of 12,000,000 capacity each twenty-four hours, are planned for the settling basins, and three 10,ooo,ooo-gallon engines for pumping directly into the mains against a head of 340 feet for domestic purposes, and for fire purposes 430 and 455 feet.

The question of pumping into a plan of distribution under such pressure as is herewith indicated associates the factor of plumbing work in dwellings being made of necessity very expensive in new work and of considerable expense in old work now in operation. To what extent this may affect householders is at present an unknown quantity. Stand-pipes we think are very desirable in many respects, in lieu of lack of elevation. The same may be said of reservoirs in case of a break-down happening to any of the pumping engines. A system of reservoirs 150 feet above lowest place of delivery, distributed about the city environments and connected at certain points, would probably be desirable if possible to obtain.

Pumping against 340 feet head through 123 miles of water mains adds considerable additional cost in maintenance account as well as affording superior facilities for waste of water, which shows alarming figures of great increase under high pressures where this is now the practice. A moderate head of water with adequate delivery capacity is a great advantage compared with high heads, and does not impair efficient fire service.

The engineers in their report state the desirability of introducing pressure valves to relieve the low districts from excessive pressure necessary to maintain head in the high districts. This feature of the report indicates an apprehension that it is well to consider. It would seem practical to divide the city distribution into districts according to elevation, and adapt the pressure according to the necessities of each particular district by other means than pressure valves that, arbitrarily, will be affected by variable conditions of pumping pressure that will make the valves more or less unreliable. A stated pressure on a pressure valve emanating from a constant head can be utilized to advantage on a small plan of distribution.

Concerning the present plant, which cost among the small millions of dollars, it is a matter of surprise to the minds of some engineers that so small a portion of it is considered in the new plan. This is a radical step, the ignoring of the present pumping plant together with its accessories. No reason is given in the report for such a departure other than change of base. It would have been a good thing to have presented another report showing what kind of a plant Kansas City could make out of the old one by adding to it. The people then could institute comparisons.

The question of tunneling the river is an important one. The prices estimated for this work are low. From observation of the report, it seems to us that the property and plant of the old water company are considered by the engineers of no account, except to the extent of $340,000. Without desiring to reflect upon the well-known professional attainments of the gentlemen comprising the engineer commission, it can well be said that a more thorough report in detail upon the alleged defective characteristics of the old plant would have better fortified the position they have taken. This is all we can say upon the subject at present.