Commissioner Edward E. Wall Reviews Recent Improvements and Present Facilities in Department’s Annual Report

Recent improvements to the extensive water works system of St. Louis, Mo., and the present equipment and facilities of the plant are interestingly reviewed by Water Commissioner Edward E. Wall in the report issued by him of the operations of the Division of Water during the fiscal year ending April 1 of this year. The Assistant Water Commissioner is Francis T. Cutts and Charles A. Cheney is secretary. Officials of the supply and operating section are: Gordon G. Black, engineer in charge, and Aug. V. Graf, chemist. In the operating section Leonard A. Day is chief mechanical engineer and Henry Gauss is engineer in charge of construction. Frederick L. Bock is assistant engineer in charge of the distribution section. Commissioner Wall states that the total expenditure of the Division charged against maintenance and operation for the year was $1,204,243.84. Of this amount $72,726.10 was expended for work done for other departments. The expenditure for operation and mainteance was charged with the cost of all engineering, designing, superintendence and inspection of new work, which can only be estimated, he says, since the work of maintenance and new construction is executed by the same corps of employees, and an attempt to divide the time between the two classes of work would involve clerical expense out of all proportion to the value of the results. He says: If we assume that five per cent, of the cost of the work should be allowed for engineering, superintendence, etc., the sum of $27,375.80 should then be deducted from the charges for operation and maintenance, Deducting from the total expenditure charged against operation and maintenance, the estimated cost of engineering, etc., and the amount chargeable to other Departments, we have a net expenditure for operation and maintenance of $1,104,141.94. The cost of new construction by contract and by the direct employment of labor and purchase of material for new work amounted to $547,516.08 for the year. This is $81,285.23 less than for 1915-16. This decrease has occurred, not because the need for certain additions and improvements is less urgent, but because funds were not appropriated to continue the systematic work of increasing and improving the water supply of the city, according to the general scheme approved by the Board of Public Improvements in 1913, and as modified in the Supplemental Report of 1915.


The daily average of 102.2 million gallons of water was pumped from the river into the settling basins, making a total of 37,296 million gallons for the year that was given the preliminary treatment with lime and iron sulphate to remove the greater portion of the suspended matter and a large percentage of the dissolved solids. From this 37,296 million gallons of river water, 214,059 tons of solid matter was removed, an average of 5.77 tons for each million gallons of water pumped. After the removal of this amount of solid matter, the water was treated with aluminum sulphate and passed through the rapid sand filters, which removed the remaining matter in suspension, and reduced the color to a point where it was unnoticeable. In the process of purification 14,261 tons of lime, 1,814 tons of iron sulphate, 1,525 tons of aluminum sulphate and 50,200 pounds of liquid chlorine were added to the river water, all of these chemicals being precipitated and removed along with the solid water originally contained in the river water. The high standard of purity of the water delivered from the filter plant was, he says, maintained throughout the year and he adds: “It is unfortunate that this water after being brought to a high standard of purity at the Chain of Rocks, should be exposed to contamination in the uncovered storage basins at Baden and Bissell’s Point,” and he calls attention again to what he characterizes as “the absurdity of storing pure water in open basins, thus nullifying to a considerable extent the careful treatment which has already been applied for the sole purpose of attaining a practically pure and sterile water.”


During the year ending April 1, the consumption exceeded 100,000,000 gallons on 135 days, attaining its daily maximum for the summer season oti July 29, 1916, when it reached 133,670,000 gallons, and for the winter season on February 5, 1917, 130,200,000 gallons. On seven days there were single hours when the consumption exceeded 7½ millions, a rate equivalent to 180 million gallons per day, the total capacity of the high service pumps, exclud ing the centrifugal, which could not be relied upon. To meet this demand during fourteen hours out of the twenty-four, it was necessary to operate at full speed nine pumping engines out of the total number of eleven available. The actual capacity of the high service pump, including the centrifugal, is given as 200 million gallons. In 1919, the pumping capacity needed is estimated at 208 million gallons and at 221 in 1921. The commissioner asserts that funds for one 20 million galon triple expansion pump should he appropriated and contracts let this year in order that ample reserve may be provided in time to meet future increased consumption, and he says: “The daily per capita consumption is increasing each year, being 130 gallons for the past year. So long as the people of St. Louis innsist on water service at flat rates, waste will he encouraged, and the continuous performance of spending large sums for additional engines, new mains, and for enlarging the whole system, will have to be kept up.”

Commissioner’s Recommendations.

The commissioner recommended that a new schedule of rates be drawn up, closely following the lines of the present schedule but with a less number of items so as to simplify the clerical work of making out bills and keeping records. He states that the present water works increased to the maximum capacity will suffice for the needs of St. Louis hardly longer than 1926 and the question of an additional supply should be taken up this year and action should be taken that will lead to the adoption of a general scheme for building new and additional works. Money, he says, should be appropriated this year for covering the Baden storage basin, in part foi cleaning water mains, for one 20-milliongallon pumping engine and for the reconstruction of the Baden Steam Plant. These improvements cannot all be completed during the year, probably not more than half the cost having to be met during the year, so that the segregation of the funds for these purposes will have no practical effec on the financial status of water works revenue. Covering the Baden basin is recommended because approximately forty per cent, of the water consumed passes through this basin, and that proportion of the supply could be protected from contamination at a reasonably low cost as compared with the expense of covering the Bissell’s Point basins. The Baden Steam Plant should be reconstructed for reasons of economy, as well as of safety. An estimated saving of about $12,000 per year is estimated to result from this reconstruction.


Under the head of statistics the following data is given in the report: The works were constructed in 1829-1917 and the population, by census of 1910, is 687,089. The works are owned by the city and the source of supply is the Mississippi River. The entire supply is pumped from the river at the Chain of Rocks into seven settling basins, having a total capacity of about 200,000,000 gallons. Sedimentation is hastened through the addition of lime and sulphate of iron. The water is then passed through rapid sand filters, having a total rated capacity of 160,000,000 gallons per 24 hours. It is then delivered by gravity through conduits for a distance of four and one-half miles in one case, and seven miles in the other, to High Service Pumping Stations, where it is pumped into the mains. Practically one-half the supply is pumped into mains connected to Compton Hill Reservoir, 185 feet above city directrix, and the other half delivered under direct pressure approximately 35 pounds per square inch greater than the Compton Hill pressure. The total pumpage for the year is given as: Measured through Venturi meters and by plunger displacements with allowance for slip, as follows: Chain of Rocks, by Venturi meters, 37,296,050,000 gallons; Baden, by plunger displacement, 14,139,294,700 gallons; Bissell’s Point, by Venturi meters and plunger displacement, 21,525,591,210 gallons. The number of filter units at Chain of Rocks is 40 and the net area of filter surfaces is 56,000 square feet. The estimated total population at date is 755,000; the estimated population on lines of pipe is 750,000; the estimated population supplied is 750,000. The total consumption for the year was 35,064,881,910 gallons; passed through meters, 10,427,813,325 gallons. The percentage of consumption metered was 29.2. The average daily consumption was 97,712 000 gallons, being: Gallons per day to eah cinhabitant, 130; gallons per day to each consumer, 130; gallons per day to each tap, 833. The cost of supplying water per million gallons figured on total maintenance was $31.73 and cost of supplying water, per million gallons, figured on total maintenance plus interest on bonds was $34.58. The kind of pipe used for the distribution mains is cast iron and steel, the sizes being from 3-inch to 48inch. 57,711 feet were extended during the year, making a total now in use of 1,002.7 miles. There are 11,920 public and private hydrants in use, 110 being added during the year. The range of pressure on mains is 15 to 125 pounds. The service pipes are lead and cast iron, the sizes being 5/8 inch to 6 inches. The number of service taps added during the year was 1,576, and the number now in use is 117,284. The number of meters added in the year was 399, and there are 8,326 now in use. The percentage of receipts from metered water is 36 1/2 per cent, and the percentage of services metered is 7.1 per cent. The receipts were: Unexpended balance in water works revenue beginning of fiscal year, $696,928.89; unexpended balance in ordinance accounts, $738,792.14; total, $1,435,721.03. From water rates: Flat rates—Gross, $1,765,773.89; meter rates—Gross, $893,163.86; $2,658,937.75. For taps—Gross, $4,801.20; for miscellaneous—Gross, $209.31; from municipal railway, $7,473.75; from ground and pole rental, $34.10; from the sale of condemned material, $16,544.62; from county water licenses, $384.57; from other departments for work done, $9,367.84; from unpaid payrolls, $14.40; from contract and other deposits, $21,579.28; from excess commission refunded, $46,177.85; from miscellaneous, $17.73; $4,201,263.43. Operation and maintenance expenditures came to $1,216,821.15. The unexpended balance in water works revenue is given as $788,722.70, and the unexpended balance in ordinance accounts as $781,276.06.

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