THE LESSON FROM A LEAKY WATER MAIN.
TWICE within a few weeks a thirty-six-inch water main has burst in the upper portion of the city, thereby hindering the water takers in a territory reaching from West Thirty-fourth street to the top of Manhattan Island, for a period of over twenty-four hours, from using the most essential and necessary element for preventing disease and death during the hottest month of summer. It is estimated that not less than 23,000 families suffered misery for about thirty hours, through being thus cut off from the use of water. We are not disposed, nor do we intend to find fault with the officials in charge of the department of water supply; but we do say that this accident certainly justifies an investigation and report, as to what steps shall be taken in the future to avoid a repetition of what can be looked upon only as a disaster. We know that our system of supply is not what it ought to be,so far as regards pressure, and in lieu of it, we are obliged to depend upon volume to compensate largely for loss of head due to draught. Hence, when a leak occurs in a large main, which supplies so large a portion of the population, the disaster creates wide-spread distress and suffering—no one can estimate the measure of that which occurred last week,and on the former occasion. Mr. A. Eteley.the chief engineer of the Croton aqueduct commission, in his official capacity as president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, remarked in his address at the recent convention held in Detroit, upon the necessity for a dual, or supplementary source of water supply to our large cities on the coast line. No doubt this suggestion was inspired by a close and judicious study of the perils incident to depending upon a single source of supply. The same line of thought may without prejudice take up the question of improving plans of distribution in our large cities, and the necessity for duplicating them to the degree of providing for an emergency occasioned by a break of the character already alluded to. The borough of Manhattan has a sufficiently meagre and poor initial pressure for the supply of water to its inhabitants, and,in the absence of what is essential to produce efficiency in this respect, large trunk mains are required to maintain even a semblance of a fair, moderate pressure. T he result is that, when a large main is put out of service, what there is in volume and pressure supplied by it is immediately cut out of the system of distribution, and no provision is made for such an emergency, or, if made, is inadequate, as was shown last week, and also some weeks ago. The conditions evolved from this experience, bitter as it is to water-takers, mav lead up not only to dual sources of supply, but also to a better initial pressure, in order to provide for just such emergencies as have occurred twice within a few weeks in the one neighborhood. We are informed that in neither case were notices issued to water-takers in advance of shutting off the water from the broken main; hence the deprivation was sudden and unprepared for. As this was undoubtedly the case, it shows an indifference to public suffering that should be punished. No man should be permitted to remain an official in the water supply department, who neglects to notify families to provide themselves with water in advance of shutting it off to repair leaks in broken water mains.