The Progress of Meterage
Nearly 44 years ago the first meters were sold to Jersey City, and during the following 10 years there were 45,000 installed. That record was made April 1, 1887, while at the present time it may be estimated that the number of meters in use will approx mate 5,000,000. In 100 cities of the United States, as shown in the table herewith, the increase in meterage for 12 years has been steady, which proves that where once tried the constant setting of meters followed.
The past year snows conclusively that meters must be included in the regular operation of water-works plants. Their use has become general, while the number of places that have adopted meterage systems has increased 50 per cent. This shows a very healthy condition and must be satisfactory to the superintendent and consumer alike, as by meter measurement the exact number of gallons used is recorded and the water purveyor becomes possessed of accurate data from which he can compute the number of gallons pumped, the gallons wasted and gallons used for legitimate, domestic and manufacturing purposes. The importance of using meters in distribution practice has therefore been fully demonstrated. As managers and superintendents of plants have realized the necessity tor their use. consumers have to a great extent become converted to the principle of measurement of the water served on their premises at a nominal cost, as the most equitable and reasonable one to adopt. The theory of “water as free as air” is all very well when said water flows in crystal rivulets from the mountain top past the threshold of the dwelling, hut there are few such sources of supply to be found at the present time. The grow th of population in all parts of the country, even in the last decade, has caused the crowding of rural districts and converted them into large towns or cities, teeming with industries. These greater populations have wrought many and expensive changes in the sources of supply until the “free water” theory has vanished I ke many others into the dreamy past In its place remains the necessity to provide adequate supplies of pure, wholesome water which has forced itself upon the attention of the managers of water works systems everywhere. Large amounts of new capital have to be raised to meet changes necessary from the original plans in the extension and improvements of plants, and the only demand made upon consumers to meet these expenses, is the nominal charge for the water delivered daily in their homes Pumping machinery and filtration alone are expensive items in water works administration. yet, the complaining water taker, who would scarcely like to drink “free” water loaded with disease germs often growls at the small charge he is asked to pay yearly for the pure water furnished to every floor in h_____s home. Frequently murmurs were heard about the payment of the rate because water was measured the same as any other necessary commodity, upon which the user is compelled to subsist. But these are dying out and the rule now is. rather than the exception, that consumers favor meters as they reduce the cost of supply. The meter has long since become recognized as the only fair and reasonable means through which water shuld be furnished. It saves unnecessary waste, while it does not, in any way, curtail the legitimate use of water for domestic use. The past decade proves, by the number of meters sold, that obstacles to their use is fast dying out. if it has not already done so. The table herewith shows the progress of meterage during the past 12 years. In all. nearly 100 cities and towns have reported the exact condition of meterage in these places and as will he seen in many cases the increase in the use of meters has reached in that time 100 per cent., while in more cases installations are stead_____ly working up each year according to the policies adopted by managers of plants for setting them. Two companies manufacturing meters have announced that they reached, and in one case passed, the millionth mark early this year. This is a remarkable fact when it is taken into consideration the educational process that had to be employed before the consumers became convinced of the fairness of the meter system.
Among the most rapidly metered cities in the country is that of New Orleans of which George G. Karl says: Our present water works system went into operation in February, 1909, with flat rates which were usually less than half of the old water works company’s rates. Consumption, when we had only 10,000 unmetered connections serving 10,000 premises In June of 1909 had reached over 17,000,000 gallons per day. Th____s indicated that the capacity of the plant would be exceeded before nearly all of the premises of the city were connected. An all meter system was at once adopted with fair rates which gave to each consumer the same opportunity to reduce his bill by prevent ng waste. This made meters in demand, and by the end of 1010 we had 23,500 meters in service serving about 26,000 premises, and our total pumpage was about 15,000,000 gallons per day. On December 31, 1912, we had 34,000 meters in use, serving about 45,000 premises, with a pumpage average less than 18,000,000 gallons daily. We are now metering all connections, including free consumers and new fire connections, and have only about 100 unmetered fire connections used with sprikler systems or sealed valves.
Of what significance is it whether the per capita is 80 gallons or 180 gallons as long as the department gets paid for what it furnishes ? It is only by complete meterage that it is possible for any water company to know this, otherwise they are working in the dark. Meters make it possible to very closely tell how much you are accounting for, compared with your pumpage. Instead of watching your unreliable per capita keep your eye on the “unaccounted for” water, and use your efforts to reduce this item to the lowest minimum figure. This appears to me a better and more scientific way of figuring consumption. Universal meterage, of course, can only make this possible.
He further says that “the influence of meters on consumption is shown in a most startling manner. For instance, to give an idea of what the situation would be without meters, as judged by the rate of increased consumption before we commenced to introduce meters and by consumption under the old water works company, prior to 1909, who did not meter and who pumped up to 20,000,000 gallons daily when there were only 7,000 consumers on 125 miles of mains. Place these figures aga nst our present less than 18,000,000 gallons pumped daily, with 48,000 consumers on 538 miles of mains supplied through about 35,600 meters and the actual result of meterage is presented in a very plain and convincing way.” Milwaukee is another city that has adopted a meterage system with the same satisfactory results. W. H. P. Bohman, in describing the conditions that exist in that city, says:
“I am at loss to understand how anyone at this late date can advance any sound arguments in opposition to the selling of water by meter measurement. All other commodities are sold by a unit of measure and why not water? Nevertheless there are any number of people who preach conservation from the house tops yet balk when it comes to installing a water meter, although a meter is unquestionably the biggest conservator of unnecessary and wilful waste. Through personal efforts and by an order Issued bv the railroad commission of Wisconsin, this city has been able to wipe out its last few hundred unmetered services and place them on metered service May 1, 1913. Milwaukee now has 59,000 meters in service and if it was optional with the consumer I feel certain that but very few would care to go back to the Mat rate assessment. I judge from the list of questions asked by FIRF AND WATER ENGINEERING that you are attempting to show that the introduction of water meters causes a reduction in the cost of pumping in proportion to the percentage of services metered. While the general introduction of meters in this city started about 25 years ago and gradually reduced the per capita from 113 gallons in 1887 to 80 gallons in 1901, the lowest point reached, the per capita since then has aga_____n increased to 113 gallons in 1912. Right here 1 might say that at the present time, with a per capita of 113 gallons, we are actually accounting for more water pumped than when our per capita was 81* gallons. I consider the per capita method of figuring water consumption a very conven ent, but altogether unreliable method. If you divide the average daily consumption by the total population and the entire population is not being supplied of what significance or how reliable are such statistics? Twenty-five years ago the ratio of population to consumer was 13, while for the year 1912 it is only seven. In the early years of our water works people of moderate means who extended the water supply into their homes put in one faucet, usually over a kitchen sink. To-day, even the man of moderate means, has bathroom and water-closet facilities. In general the public is getting more and more lavish in the use of water, particularly in the large cities. It is only when the entire population is being supplied that a per capita estimate of consumption becomes of some value. Yet statistics are repeatedly published without taking this into account. Granting that every city was supplying its entire population, for comparative purposes the per capita basis would still be unreliable as the character of the consumer largely controls the consumption. In this city with is large manufacturing industries in which water enters largely as a product of manufacture, 100 of the largest consumers paid $102,000 for water used during the year 1912, nearly 50 per cent, of the entire revenue; one consumer alone paying ovet $70,000. You can readily sec what effect this has on our per capita. As tile business of these 100 firms expands the consumption of water keeps pace with the business and helps to swell our per capita. Of what significance is it whether the per capita is 80 gallons or 180 gallons as long as the department gets paid for what it furnishes. It is only by complete meterage that it is possible for any water company to know this, otherwise they are working in the dark. Meters make t possible to very closely tell how much you are accounting for, compared with your pumpage. Instead of watching your unreliable per capita keep your eye on the ‘unaccounted for’ water and use your efforts to reduce this item to the lowest minimum figure. This appears to me a better and more scientific way of figuring consumption. Universal meterage, of course, can only make this possible. As far as the cost of pumping being reduced owing to the introduction of meters, the publication of figures for this city without some explanation would be misleading. Our pumping stations are located in a high-class residence district and before the installation of Hawley furnaces were using hard coal at a cost of $7 to $8 per ton. As coal and labor constitutes about 90 per cent, of the cut repumping station expenses, a change to a cheaper grade of coal very materially effects the cost of pumping. After installing Hawley furnaces the department for a number of years was able to us,Youghiogheny screenings, paying as low as $1.75 per ton and which greatly reduced the cost of pumping. As the cost of screenings gradually advanced to a much higher figure and in order to still further reduce the smoke nuisance, the department began to use Pocahontas coal costing from $3.50 to $4.50 per ton. which again increased the cost of pumping. The item of labor has also been on the increase during the past In years something like 15 to 20 per cent. In addition to the increase in wages employes now receive one day off each week and 15 days’ vacation annually with pay when formerly they worked every day and were granted a vacation of 10 days only. This necessitated hiring additional men. For this reason the publication of cost of pumping w thout noting all of these other factors entering into cost would he misleading ”
In New London. Conn., where the system is gravity, W. H. Richards, engineer and superintendent, states that the introduction of meters has been very gradual, only 19 per cent, of tintaps being metered at the present time Between the years 1900 and 1912 the population has increased but 12 per cent. while the consumption has about doubled and the per capita consumption has increased 70 per cent. This does not indicate that there has been no saving effected by the introduction of meters,” but simply that the increase in waste has been much faster than the increase in the introduction of meters and, furthermore, the increase in the legitimate use of water has been very great, as in all cities, due to the increased number of fixtures used by the same number of persons. The schedule rate for a dwelling, including lawn sprinkling, six persons, one closet and one bath, is $11 per year. The minimum rate where a meter is used is $4.50 per year, for which 3,800 cubic feet of water can be used. The ordinary family under these circumstances and under the meter rates would use about s x dollars’ worth of water per year if no water was wasted. The meter rate in this city is a regular rate, being the same for all consumers. The rate is $1.20 per thousand for the first 20,000 cubic feet used in six months: 75c. per thousand for the next 40,000 cubic feet, and for all over this, 45c. per thousand.
TABLE SHOWING PROGRESS OF METERAGE IN TWELVE YEARS
The showing in Cleveland. Ohio, with a population of 600,000, is good when compared with other manufacturing cities. Its per capita daily consumption of 110.7 gallons cannot be considered large when the factory interests are taken into account. It had only 3,140 meters n use in 1900. against 84,052 in 1912, showing an increase of meters set in five years of 20.065. The percentage of services metered is 77.40. Different from this statement is that of Buffalo, Nf. Y. Here it is shown that with 79,309 taps, only 3,702 are metered. The average daily consumption in 1868 was 4,000,000 gallons, with a population of 100,000. making the daily per capita consumption 10 gallons. In the year 1911-1912, the average daily consumption was 139,581,015 gallons, the population 450,000, making the daily per capita consumption 310 gallons. The greatest amount pumped in 24 hours during the last year was on February 11, 1912, when the pumps registered 184,100,000 gallons, making a per capita consumption of 409 gallons. The least amount pumped in 24 hours during the last year was on November 26, 1911, when the pumps registered 102,790,000 gallons, making a per capita consumption of 228 gallons.
These are interesting figures when compared with cities using meters. The per capita consumption must show a large per centage of waste even taking into account the large manufacturing interests of the city. Buffalo is in the same class as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago as to the abnormal use of water, only that Buffalo is a good leader in the number of gallons wasted. To sum up the facts contained in the table it is apparent that the introduction of meters commenced in 1869 has made remarkable progress during the intervening years and that meterage is firmly established as the most important asset in municipal water distribution.