The Toledo Filtration Plants.
The question of a pure water supply is one of extreme importance to a great many of the cities in this country because of the fact so many of them are forced to take their water supply from sources that are already contaminated. Toledo’s water supply is and has been for a great many years obtained from the Aimee river. The water of this stream is entirely suitable for domastic purposes except for the fact of its muddy condition, caused by the character of the country through which this river passes. This statement refers of course to the waters of the stream unpolluted by sewage. With the growth of the small towns along this river the pollution of the stream became worse each year as these towns grew in size. It therefore became necessary for Toledo to put in a modern system of filtration or seek some other source of supply. A thorough investigation of these sources was undertaken by the state and city officials, and the present location for the filtration plant and source of water supply located. Since the acceptance of this report by city authorities and the adoption of the plans Toledo has spent nearly $1,000,000 in the construction of the water purification works. The operation of the plant was begun February 23, 1910, and has continued with only one slight interruption ever since. Before the plant was in operation the condition of the Maumee water was such that for the greater pqrt of the year it was impossible to use it for domestic purposes except by passing it through house filters. For a great portion of the year the water was so muddy that it was impossible to use it even for bathing purposes. Soon after commencing the operation of the plant the citizens of Toledo showed their satisfaction with the quality of the water turned out by an increase in consumption exceeding all anticipations, the average increase for the year being 12 per cent. Many demands were made on the department for extension of mains which we were unable to meet, and the demands so far this year show that the increase for 1911 will be still greater than that for 1910. Up to the present time the rates for the water furnished by the water department have varied, according to the amount consumed, from 3 1/2C. per thousand gallons to 10c., with a minimum charge of $6 for 60,000 gallons, this latter charge applying to householders. The department has undertaken out of its earnings the payment of all the interest charges on the cost of the plant and also the retirement of $50,000 worth of bonds each year. In addition to this, within the last month a revision of rates has been made by which the consumers who were buying water from the city in large quantities at a verylow rate have been raised from 3 1/2c. as a minimum rate to 6c. and the house rates lowered 10 per cent., from 10c. per thousand gallons to 9c. So that we are now furnishing the pure water to 90 per cent, of the consumers of Toledo at a lower rate than they formerly paid for the raw river water. The value of this boon to the people of Toledo can hardly be estimated. The water which was formerly distasteful and unpleasant in appearance is now not only pleasing to the taste and suitable for all domestic purposes, but is delivered to the people of Toledo free from the bacteria which, without filtration, would be carried into our homes and become a menace to health. It must be, therefore, clear that because of this bettered condition we will have a cleaner and more sanitary condition existing, both with regard to our persons and our homes, and the value of this condition to the community at large will be apparent to every one. The plant is adapted to the use of sulphate of iron and lime or sulphate of alumina, commonly known as “commerical alum,” for the purpose of clarifying and purifying the water. After the water passes through the operation of settling it is further passed through filters containing a 30-inch layer of sand and nine inches of gravel. The varying conditions of the Maumee water necessitates constant watchfulness on the part of those in charge of the operation of the plant. The number of bacteria to a given quantity of water also varies considerably, but with completely equipped laboratories in connection with the plant and the constant tests that are being made these changed conditions are grappled with as soon as they appear. The satisfaction which the people of the city of Toledo have in the use of this purified water will undoubtedly increase as they draw their own comparisons between the water furnished now and that which they were forced to use before the plant was put into operation. The general feeling of satisfaction will unquestionably have a good effect on the growth and development of the city. The character of the water furnished before the purification plant was in operation no doubt deterred many from making Toledo their home, and was a general detriment to the whole city, but with the pure water being furnished at a very reasonable cost we no longer feel ashamed in speaking to prospective citizens of this feature of our city business. In anticipation of the increased consumption this year and for the future, the city has recently entered into a contract for the extension of the plant, involving the addition of 14 one-million gallon filters, giving the plant a total capacity of 34,000,000 gallons of filtered water per day, which work is now under construction and will be completed this summer. All of this additional cost will be paid out of the earnings of the department. Toledo has many things of which to be proud, but few of which give such general satisfaction and contribute so much to the well-being of the community as its water purification works.