Why Cities and Towns Should Filter Their Water—Economic Consideration Apparently Most Difficult of Comprehension—Nation’s Heavy Typhoid List

A SHORT time ago I received a request from FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING to write a short article with the above caption, and rather thoughtlessly agreed. Setting my thoughts on the matter the “Why’s” seemed to me so numerous and obvious, that to take valuable space in a discussion of a subject that has been so ably set forth in numerous articles and papers by others, was not justified, and I was about to dismiss the matter, with this suggestion to the Editor. It happened, however, that as J was about to do so I received two letters from two engineers from widely separated sections, each requesting similar information as to the possibility of purifying the water supply of their cities, in each case referring to a stream better than the average in its natural condition.

Must Reiterate the “Whys”

If in this day, with the fund of available information at hand, and with over seven hundred municipal filtration plants in operation, there are still engineers who question the possibility of purification of water supplies, we must then continue to give the “Why’s” and reiterate them over and over again, until the fullest measure of protection in our water supplies is attained.

When the necessity of building camps for the concen* tration of large bodies of our young men, for training them into soldiers for our great army became apparent, the first consideration in their location was the water Supply. The best experts were sent to the various locations to investigate the available sources, and means of purifying them. Our authorities recognized that the first necessity to consider was health, and that pure water was the essential thing to this requirement. Water purification plants were installed and placed in operation either directly or from cities already having them established.

First Essential of Army Pure Water

Filter plants and portable purifying plants were sent to France at the earliest possible date to care for the requirements of the army on the other side. Why? Because the greatest protection to a healthy body and efficient work is pure water. In every movement of the army, the water was of the first consideration, as essential as food, guns and ammunition. Is this not a lesson that all civilians should learn if they have not already done so?

I o one of ethical taste, clear sparkling water to drink or in which to bathe, is a source of pleasure and joy. Sentimentally the protection of family and friends from water-borne disease germs is a strong argument, that appeals to those individuals that know the dangers from this source. There are thousands who have had it brought home to their own fireside, and with the histories of the great decrease in typhoid in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, ( incinnati and hundreds of smaller cities available for the asking, there is no excuse for lack of knowledge.

Economic Consideration from a Community Standpoint

But the great “Why” from a community standpoint, is the economic consideration, and this is the point that seems most difficult of apprehension: unless the individual is affected by direct contact he is still largely blind

to the fact that what affects economically the community in which he lives, affects him personally.

Heavy Typhoid Death and Casualty List

We, as a nation, for a long time failed to see that the world war in Europe concerned us, yet it did vitally, just as much in the first two years as the last year, when we did wake up to a realization of its meaning to us as a community if we contented ourselves to look on. We went out to set things right, yet our annual death and sick list from typhoid for many years has nearly equalled the death and castualty list suffered in this war. Mr. G. A. Johnson in his most valuable paper gives the annual number of sufferers from this disease as 300,000 with an annual death rate of 20,000. (The death rate has been as high as 50,000 in a single year.) This means an economic loss of $150,000,000 and every community is paying a certain portion of this sum and even those that have means to protect themselves, nevertheless suffer by reason of the laxity of others.

The installation of purification plants has shown an economic saving in many communities that in from two to five years have paid the cost of such installation. In other words, they have shown a profit on the investment of from 20 to 50 per cent., and this is a continuous profit once instituted. Can you beat it? When we are fully awake to the meaning of this, all communities will get busy just as they have in this war, and will have a better and safer place to live in.

We can have pure water if we want it and go after it. There is no reason for incredulity. It is a simple engineering problem, that requires only competent advice and the expenditure of a reasonable amount of money, but there are hundreds of communities still paying the price of inexcusable ignorance or neglect.

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