The New Water-Works at Sidney, O.

The New Water-Works at Sidney, O.

Sidney, O., is situated on the west bank of the Great Miami river, and is the county seat of Shelby county. It is a manufacturing city, with a population of 6000, among its chief industries being the production of agricultural implements and school furniture.

The city was until recently supplied with water from works which it built in 1873. The source of supply of the old works was a mill race some two miles long, which was fed by Musquito creek. The surplus water afforded by this race and not required by a small flouring mill, lor which it was constructed, was diverted in an open channel to a pond or small reservoir on the east hank of the Miami river, alongside of which the pumping station was located.

The plant consisted of four Holly pumps, driven by a turbine water wheel, with the usual pressure regulating accessories, peculiar to the Holly direct supply system, of which these works were a type.

The water for driving the turbine, as also that required by the pumps to supply the city, was taken from the pond above mentioned. A 10-inch pipe laid across and under the bed of the river connected the pumping station with the distributing system in the city. The combined normal capacity of the pumps was 600,000 gallons per twenty-four hours.

The increasing yearly demand made upon the works for water, and the gradual failing of the flow in Musquito creek finally led to the construction of a new system of works and the abandonment of the old system with its source of supply, the latter having become totally inadequate to meet the requirements of the city during the summer months. For the proper development of a new system the trustees engaged the services of Geo. Hornung, C. E., of Cincinnati, O. When entering upon his investigations Mr. Hornung found an idea prevailing among the citizens that the source of supply for the new works should be wells, to be either dug or driven, at suitable points near the Miami river. An investigation, however, of the depth, extent and character of this supposed subterranean supply revealed the fact that it would be an unwise and improper plan to adopt.

The Niagara formation of limestone underlies this vicinity, if not the entire county, and is lound here at its greatest depth some twenty feet below the bed of the river. The intervening material between this formidable stone formation anil the surface of the bottom lands of the river in this locality is chiefly fine sand, intermingled with clay drift, followed by the usual soil on top. When penetrating this material to the limestone, some water was encountered, but not in sufficient quantity to justify the adoption of a ground water supply. Furthermore, the water so found was exceedingly hard and an analysis proved it also to be otherwise objectionable in quality, which seems to be the rule with most shallow well waters.

After the ground water idea was disposed of, attention was then directed to the Great Miami river as the future source of supply. This river is not a great one, as the prefix to its name would imply, but it is so named in contradistinction to another stream in the same part of the State, called the Little Miami. Both streams are small tributaries of the Ohio river. The Great Miami is a fast running and living stream, with nothing along its shores above the city to contaminate it. It has many riffles and natural obstructions before it reaches Sidney, over which the water in its rapid descent is forced to flow, a circumstance favorable for its complete aeration, and the elimination and certain oxidation of any hurtful organic impurities it may possibly contain. The river is further protected on its west side from contamination by a feeder or branch of the Miami canal, which extends from Sidney to Port Jefferson, a distance of eight miles above the city. This feeder will also intercept any drainage from the city should it ever extend its limits above the new pumping station site.


The flow of the river is abundant at its lowest stages to supply the city for all time to come, and of a much superior quality, as shown by the analysis, than the well or ground water in the neighborhood. The only real and valid objection to the use of the river water was its occasional turbidness after rains. For city water supplies this objection is one usually made to running streams, though the water from them otherwise may be of first-class quality. To overcome the objection in this case, and in the absence of subsiding or settling reservoir basins, mechanical filtration was recommended and adopted as a principal and distinctive feature of the new works. The system of works as planned and constructed is a direct supply and stand-pipe system combined. The pumping station is located above the city on land lying between the Miami canal and the Great Miami river. The source of supply is the river. The water is taken from the channel through a 20-inch influent pipe, 40 feet long, to a water-tight receiving or subsiding well, 20 feet in diameter and 26 feet deep, located between the river and the power house. From this well, after the water has deposited therein the heavy matter it may contain during and after freshets, it is taken by the pumps and forced through the filters into the distributing pipe system and stand-pipe. If no provision were made for intercepting this heavy matter, whether clay or sand, it would produce an untimely fouling or clogging of the filters, and the gritty portion of it would prove in time prejudicial to the working parts of the pumps. The well is designed to be a mud and sand trap and arranged so that it can be cleaned out when necessary in a simple and inexpensive manner by means of a water syphon.

The power house is a neat and substantial building. The substructure is of heavy limestone masonry, laid in cement mortar and range courses. The superstructure is first-class brick work with a slate roof and iron crestings. The boiler chimney is of brick with freestone trimmings, and is 80 feet high above the top course of its foundation. It has a plinth 9 feet square and 19 feet high, upon which is placed the shaft, octagonal in plan, and 61 feet high. The top of the chimney is protected by a cast iron cap bolted together in sections and secured to the brick work.

The power house is divided up into boiler, engine, filter and pump rooms. T h e substructure contains the filter and pump rooms, measuring respectively in plan, 33 feet feet 10 inches, by 43 feet to inches, and 32 feet by 29 feet. Both rooms are 17 feet high, well lighted and ventilated. The superstructure contains the boiler and engine rooms, measuring respectively in plan. 34 feet 4 inches, by 44 feet 4 inches, and 30 feet by 32 feet 3 inches. Height of rooms 25 feet. The boiler room is over the filter room, and the engine room over the pump room. The floor of the boiler room is composed of concrete and brick arches carried by steel I beams. The floors of the filter and pump rooms are concrete, 6 inches deep. The engine room has a double wooden floor supported by joists, steel beams and cast iron columns. The upper course of flooring is of narrow oak, tongued and grooved, with an oil and beeswax finish. The walls of the engine and boiler rooms are plastered and tinted, with ash and black walnut wainscoting in the former. Both rooms have white pine varnished ceilings. A 10-inch cast iron sewer is laid longitudinally under the centre line of the entire building, and is extended to the river with the outfall considerably below the point of supply intake. This sewer carries off all the water wasted for cleansing the filters, and the drainage of the boiler, filter and pump room floors, all of which have separate branches connecting with the main sewer. The building and its internal arrangement of main pipes of the system has been designed with a view to duplicate, whenever found necessary, the present machinery, including boilers and the placing of four additional filters.

The pumping machinery consists of two tubular boilers, 60 ins. in diameter and 16 feet long, with fifty two 4-in. tubes in each. They are set alongside of one another, but with separate and independent furnaces, steam and water connections. There are two vertical, direct acting engines, of the compound non-condensing duplex type, with steam cylinders, 14 and 22 inches diameter, and 24-inch stroke. The four pumps have outside packed differential plungers of 13 and 18 inches diameter in each. Stroke same as steam pistons. One air vessel of ample capacity is made to serve both sets of pumps by placing it over the T of the main pipe to which the discharge branches of the pumps are attached. A glass tube connected with the vessel indicates the height of the air column in it. The air which from time to time is carried away from the vessel by the water during the operation of the pumps is replenished by a simple and effective device invented by Geo. Hornung, the engineer who designed the works.


The capability of each pair of pumps is the delivery per twenty-four hoursof 1,500,000 gallons of water, with a plunger travel of 100 feet per minute. They have separate suction branches and discharge pipes, and by the manipulation of valves placed in the line of these pipes, either one or both engines can be made to pump through the filters or directly into the distributing main pipe system. The steam cylinders and chests are well covered with a non heat-conducting material, over which is placed a handsome black walnut lagging with polished red metal trimmings. There are no pipes of any kind visible in the engine room, such as are so often met with, to become a nuisance from dripping and leaky joints, especially so when they are placed overhead. The steam pipes are taken from the boilers to the rear of the boiler room, then down through its floor and along under the engine room and there connected with vertical branches to the engines. The exhaust pipes pass likewise under the engine room floor to the rear of the boiler room, then up to a Hoppe’s feed water heater, which is placed over the rear of the boilers. The various valves in the main steam and water pipes required for the operation of the engines are controlled by hand wheels on stems passing up through the engine room floor and guided by polished cast iron stands resting on and fastened to the floor. In this way the valves are w ithin easy reach of the engineer, enabling him to conveniently control the operation of the engines. Each engine is provided with a nickel-plated stroke counter, attached conspicuously to the front of the engine. On the south wall of the engine room is placed a highly ornamented black walnut gauge board, upon which is mounted a clock, a steam gauge and three water pressure gauges. The steam gauge is connected with the main steam pipe from the boilers, and the different water gauges indicate the pressure in the main leading from the building and the pressure in the mains leading to and from the filters. The clock and the gauges are in nickel-plated circular cases, alike in design, with dials inches in diameter.


The filters in use at present are two in number and have a combined capacity for clarifying 500,000 gallons of water per twenty-four hours, while, as previously stated, this branch of the system can be enlarged to 1,500,000 gallons per twentyfour hours. The filters are circular and are made of riveted steel plate. They are 8 feet in diameter and 6 feet high. Sand is used exclusively as the filtering material, over the top of which the water is pumped and then made to pass down through the sand and out of the filler into the main pipe to the city. When the filters become clogged or inoperative to a degree which will offer too great a resistance for an economical pump performance, the filtering material is thoroughly washed in them by a reversion of the flow of water through them and wasted to the sewer, after which the filters are again ready for service. The frequency, together with time required and the amount of water consumed lor properly cleansing the filtering material when fouled, cannot, from practice in this case, be definitely stated, as the filters have not been in service long enough for a determination of these important questions.

The stand-pipe is located on elevated ground in the northeastern extremity of the city at a distance of 2400 feet from the pumping station, measuring along the line of the main pipe. The pipe is of riveted steel plates, 25 feet in diameter and 80 feet high. The foundation is octagon in plan and has a depth of 14 feet, 8 feet of which extends above the grade line of the site where it is located. It is composed of concrete and massive lime and sandstone masonry laid in cement mortar. The exterior is rock-faced sand stone in range courses, backed with limestone and finished with a crandle dressed sandstone coping 18 inches thick. Stone steps lead from the ground to the top of the foundation. The top of the stand-pipe has for a finish a parapet 3 feet wide and a galvanized iron cornice with large brackets and dentals. A wrought iron railing surrounds the outside of the parapet over the cornice. The water pressure over the average portion of the city, resulting from the standpipe when full, is 85 pounds per square inch.


The above described works as planned by Mr. Hornung were estimated by him in his report to the trustees to cost $61,219 without taking into account the real estate for the pumping station and stand-pipe sites, but including the laying of 190 tons of additional pipe to make the new works available. The different branches of the works were contracted for separately and the final payment for all after the completion of the works, including engineering services, amounted to $59,535, or $1684 less than the engineer’s estimate. The new works were completed ami put in operation some six months ago, and are giving in every particular entire satisfaction. They are regarded by the citizens of Sidney to be equal to any in the country where design, purity of water, effectiveness and economical performance and maintenance arc considered.

The contractors for the different branchesof the works were:

Power house—Substructure and well, Robertson & Fisher Bros, of Sidney, O.; superstructure and boiler chimney, W. W. Robertson of Sidney, O. Machinery—Gordon Steam

Pump Company, Hamilton, O. Mechanical filters—American Filter Company, Chicago, Ill. Stand pipe foundation, Michael Stopper, Cincinnati, O.; stand-pipe, Porter Manufacturing Company, Syracuse, N. Y. Valves—Bourbon

Copper & Brass Works, Cincinnati, O. Pipe laying—Keating & Houston, Mansfield, O.

Following is the analysis of the ground and river water, with comments thereon, as reported by Prof. W. Dickore of Cincinnati. Sample A was taken from the driven well, and B from the river and each put in glass carboys with ground glass stoppers, and so expressed to Mr. Dickore, who was not informed of the source of the two samples.


Parts by weight in 1,000,000 of water:

  1. Indicates the amount of soap-destroying substance which can be removed by boiling the water.
  2. Total soap destroying lime or magnesia.
  3. Total amount of insoluble substances forming scales in boilers.

Professor Dickore’s analysis was accompanied by the follow-

ing letter:

CINCINNATI, O., June 21, 1888.


President Water-works Trustees,

Sidney, O.

DEAR Sir—Enclosed please find my report of analysis of the two samples of water sent to me by your honorable board. The report on organic impurities is written out in the usual way; for the inorganic impurities I have adopted a way somewhat different from the usual, thinking that it gives to the public in general more information about the qualities of the water in that direction. Not being informed of the origin of the two samples, which is the river and which is the well, not knowing the character ot the soil, that of the surface, the sand strata or the surroundings in general, it is hard to comment on the origin of some of the impurities. One may accidentally have been worse, the other better than usual. From the analysis f judge that A is well water—from a shallow one, too— and B is the river water. For a shallow well water A is not very bad. The high amount of free ammonia shows that the decomposition of organic impurities has already taken place, and it may not be unhealthy in its present state, but still I would not recommend it for the supply of a city where large quantities will continuously be pumped.

No matter how bright, clear and palatable a shallow well water is a high amount of ammonia may indicate a recent contamination with nitrogenous animal matter of the water which drains into the water carrying strata, and while the filtering power of a given bulk of sand is limited, by constant pumping this filtering power will soon be over-strained, and the danger arises that the impurities will increase in the decaying (not perfectly decomposed) state, and give rise to serious trouble; or, perhaps, the filtering stratum is already saturated with impurity, and water passing through it will get more contaminated than what it was before. There is no oxidizing power in the sand itself. If covered with several feet of loam, or, perhaps, clay, the air has not enough access to it, and it obtains the purifying oxygen only by means of the passing water, which would not be sufficient to purify the filtering stratum in a short time. The sample It, according to the analysis, may be the river water. It was of slightly yellowish color, but after a short time became clear and colorless, while a granular deposit formed on the bottom of the bottle. This sediment proved to be clayey matter intermingled with very little organic matter. On burning no odor of animal matter could be noticed. The free ammonia and chlorine, also the organic nitrogen (albuminoid ammonia) are not excessive. Still it has been contaminated once with some organic nitrogenous matter, as all river waters will be, but the oxidizing power of the air, as always exercised on open streams, if absolutely unlimited, and if grave pollutions for several miles upstream can be prevented it will most likely stay in its present innocuous state, and may therefore be fit for a city supply, provided that you cannot find a water of at least equal wholesomeness with less mineral matter in solution; but in a limestone region this is hard to find. The distance in which manufacturing establishments should be prohibited close to the river depends upon the amount of water in the stream and the swiftness of the current. Very respectfully,


The board of trustees of the works at the time the contract for construction was made was composed of John Heiser, president, G. W. Hendershott, and J. N. Anderson. At the fall election of 1888 Mr. Heiser was retired from the board and W. D. Heikes elected in his place. The board of trustees, as now constituted, consists of G. W. Hendershott, president; J. N. Anderson and W. D. Heikes, and the officers are L. M. Studevant, secretary, and Jacob Wagner, superintendent.

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