THE ST. LOUIS WATER SUPPLY.
We reprint from The Sanitary News the following abstract of a highly interesting paper on the water supply of St. Louis, by Dr. E. M. Nelson:
There are three sources of water supply available to the citizens of St. Louis, viz.: cisterns, wells and the water of the Missouri river* as furnished by the city water-works. I learn Irom Water Commissioner Holman that it is estimated that about five-eighths of the population of our city use water from the water-works. 1 have no information as to the other three-eighths-what proportion of them are so situated that they could have access to the water-works, if so disposed. In 1885 it was ascertained in the course of a sanitary inspection of the city that there were in the part of the city already provided with water pipe* about 4000 wells, the water of which was used for drinking purposes by one or more families. The character of the water from these wells in the thickly-settled parts of the city is shown by the result of examinations made a: the time of the sanitary inspection above referred to, and reported in detail in the annual report of the health commissioner for the fiscal year ending April, 1886. Jn many of these wells the water was found to contain five, ten, twenty or thirty or more grains of chlorine to the gallon.† And as there is no salt normally found in our subsoil here, this chlorine can only be accounted for on the supposition of sewage contamination, though the largest amounts may probably have been the result of “salting” the well to improve the water, according to a popular prejudice. The record of the cholera epidemic of 1866-67 shows that ” the whole force of the epidemic was spent upon those parts where the houses and the people were unclean and well water was in most frequent use.” (Sanitary Survey of St. Louis, 1884, p. 46.)
* Though the Missouri river flows into the Mississippi river some twenty miles above the point at which our waterworks are situated, the volume of water in each of the rivers is so great that they are not miugleil for many miles farther down. ‘The difference in appearance of water from the cast and west hanks of the river at St. louis shows plainly that that from the east bank is Mississippi river water, while that from the we-t bank is Missouri river water.
Though a strenuous effort was made to secure the closure of the contaminated wells in the city in 1885, and some of the wells on public streets were closed under an ordinance passed by the municipal assembly, these ordinances were repealed in the fall of the same year, under pressure from those who felt that their business interests were interfered with, and now an expensive chemical analysis of the water is necessary before any well can be declared a nuisance and the owner be compelled to abate the same.
It will be many a year before it can be said of the city of St. Louis, even the thickly settled portion of it, as is true of the city of Brooklyn, N. Y., at present, that it has only one well within its boundaries, and that has water which chemical analysis cannot condemn.
In the parts of the city which are not closely built up, which are rather rural or suburban than urbane in character, there are many wells of which the water is not only palatable but hygienically unexceptionable ; and many residents are provided with cisterns, which by painstaking in securing that roofs shall be thoroughly cleansed before water Is allowed to run into them, furnish an excellent quality of water for drinking. The main question which I desire to bring forward in this paper, however, relates to the character of the water supplied to the closely-settled portion of our city through the water mains.
As to the adequacy of the supply it may be said that it is practically inexhaustible, and depends solely upon the efficiency and extent of the pumping facilities of the water-works.
An analysis of the water in August, 1883, gave the following results :
Nitrates were not found in appreciable quantities.
This would show that, so far as chemical tests avail to determine the potability of water, that which is supplied to the citizens of St. Louis is entirely satisfactory. An examination made in the summer of 1885 is said to have shown the presence of a quite noticeable amount of nitrates, and although it is quite exceptional that any such indication of sewage contamination has been detected in this water, it is evident to all that, with the constant growth of the city northward, and the rapid development of manufacturing interests in that section of the city, it is only a matter of a very limited length of time when the quantity of sewage emptied into the river above the intake lower of the present water-works will be such as to cause a serious contamination of the water supply of the city. An extension of the water-works system is in progress now, which is intended to obviate this source of danger by removing the low-service station, by which the water is pumped from the river to the settling basins, to a point six miles farther up the river.
That sewage contamination of even 3 large stream of water may be a source of the gravest danger to those dependent for their water supply, is evidenced by the experience of our sister city of Cincinnati during the last year,when in all the leading restaurants a common sign upon the walls was “ Boiled Ice Water,” since the people had come to know that danger lurked in the cup unless its contents had been sterilized by boiling.
t Water containing more than ao mgr. of chlorine per litre (i.a grains per gallon) derived from other sources than a saline subsoil should be rejected.-CArmicat A nalytis . Brilttein-Curtman.
Charles F. Wingate, sanitary engineer, in a paper read before a sanitary convention in Philadelphia, takes the position that the filtration of water for drinking purposes is a vital necessity. He slates that “ the poison of typhoid fever lias been conveyed twenty-five miles by a river and communicated to forty hospital patients who drank its waters.”
Domestic filters, in order to be of any reliability, must be of simple structure and so arranged as to be readily cleansed ; and this cleansing must be thoroughly and carefully attended to at frequent intervals. As “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” so constant watcbfuless and attention to the filter is the price of sanitary safety for those who must depend upon domestic filtration of their drinking water.
But I have become convinced from observation and study of this important subject during several years past, that there is a possibility of securing for our city a much better supply of drinking water than that which is as yet furnished to our citizens, and one which would avoid the necessity of making use of domestic fillers at all, so far as the public water supply is concerned.
At a meeting of the St. Louis Medical Society in the early summer. Dr. Hornsby read a paper urging the advantage of utilizing the waters ot the Meramec river as a water supply for our city. I am fully convinced that a far better plan for adoption by our city government would be ihe addition of an efficient system of filtration to the proposed extension of the water-works.
As regards the practicability of such filtration, Mr. Wingate, in the paper above referred to, says:
“ It is capable of demonstration that the water supply of the largest cities, no matter how great its volume, can be effectually and economically filtered. There are to-day in use in many industrial establishments in this country and elsewhere, including paper mills, breweries, and others which consume enormous quantities of water (one manufactory using 48,000 gallons per hour), filtering appliances which have borne the test of years of trial, and which are delivering large volumes of filtered water, of a purity, transparency and general quality which would astonish the average water drinker in our principal cities and towns.”
BALTIMORE UNITED FIRE DEPARTMENT BOARD OF RELIEF Officf.rs.-At a meeting of the Board of Relief, officers were elected as follows: President, Charles T. Holloway ; vice-president, H. B. Jones; treasurer, W. H. Dryden; secretary, George Blensinger ; visiting committee to the Aged Men’s Home, Thomas McCammon, Augustus Alberts, John A. Needles and Chas. R. Holloway. The board is composed of one member from each of the old volunteer fire companies, as follows: John A. Needles, Mechanical; Charles T. Holloway, Pioneer Hook and Ladder; John B. Carroll, Friendship; Oscar Healy, Union ; George Blensinger, Mount Vernon Hook and Ladder; William G. Miller, Deptford ; Andrew Reese, Liberty ; Samuel Hannah, Independent ; Hugh B. Jones, Vigilant; Augustus Alberts, New Market; John McClellan, Columbian ; William II. Dryden, First Baltimore ; Thomas McCammon, United ; Richard Henneberg, Franklin ; John G. Robinson, Washinglon ; John Q. Jones, Patapsco ; Francis A. Miller, Howard; Jesse Vackers, Lafayette; George Grubb, Western Hose ; William O. Sollers, Monumental Hose, and John Long, United States Hose.