THE PANAMA WATER SUPPLY PURIFICATION
Now that the Panama Canal zone promises to undergo a radical transformation from a comparatively undesirable residential country to one populated by villages and in some parts by cities, the needs of populous communities must be anticipated. As in the settlement of a community’s nucleus, the first desideration is a water supply. The most important problem that confronts the sanitary engineer is that of procuring a satisfactory water supply, by which he takes first step toward safeguarding inhabitants from such intestinal diseases as invariably appear where this precaution is neglected. The heavy rainfalls incident to that section, followed by long periods of drouth and unhealthy tropical conditions, render many large impounding reservoirs necessary. Filtration is absolutely indispensible on the Isthmus, the most marked difference between their operation there and that of filter plants in this part of the country is the importance of aeration. While experiments in the north have shown that the use of large quantities of oxygen to water which already had a high content, had little or no effect on the organic matter present, the difference of efficiency effected in Panama was very appreciable, probably being due to the effect of the oxygen on the iron content of the water. Next to the elimination of the mosquito, the water supply problem is the most interesting feature of sanitary work on the Isthmus. These natural phenomena produce very unusual concentration and purification, necessitating large storage capacities for water supply. The task of providing pure water for the canal zone is engrossing the skill of the best sanitary engineers in the country, and the work involved is of immense magnitude.