THE WATER QUESTION IN THE BOROUGH OF QUEENS.
UP to the present time politics has, played a conspicuous part in the question of the water supply of the borough of Queens, as in everything else connected with municipal government in the district comprehended by it. This is especially true of Long Island City, where the mismanagement of the water plant has resulted in some parts of the city in what is tantamount to no supply at all.
‘I he population of the whole borough is set down at 178,700, of whom 48,000 live in Long Island CHy.23.ofX) in Flushjog, 24 500 in Jamaica, 25 000 in Newtown, and 8.500 in that portion of Hempstead which forms a part of the city of New York. So far as concerns water plants, the borough should have no lack of water, as there are within its territory no less than four municipal and six private water plants as follows: Municipal—Long Island City, Flushing NVhitestone, and College Point; private—Jamaica Water Supply Company, the Queens Water Company, the Citizens’ Water Supply Company, of Newtown, the Woodside Water Supply Company, of Newtown, the Woodhaven Water Supply Company, and the Montcuk Water Company. Of the four municipal plants only that of Long Island City is unsatisfactory; the others supply plenty of good water. In the Long Island City system there are three pumping stations. 1 these, No. 1, at Blissville, just outside the city, supplies its lower end; No. 2, at Astoria (the Steinway station) supplies the upper end; and No. 3. the Sur.nyside station in the Dutch Kills section of the city, furnishes water to Ravenwood and the adjoining territory.
The daily supply from the three stations is about 2,500,000 gallons -about half as much as is needed by Long Island City, or, as it should be called more strictly, the First ward of the b trough of Queens. To supply the deficiency the existtng system should be so extended and improved as to make it capable of supplying 5,000,000 gallons daily. There are at present laid in the First ward about twenty-five miles of water main*, varying as follows: Sixteen inch pipe, about one mile; twelv. -lnch pipe, about one-half mile; ten-inch pipe, three and one-half miles—the remaining pipe is all of smaller diameter. What i* needed is thirty-inch mains, to be laid in the principal street* of the city, with sixteen-inch and twelve-inch pipe leading out from these trunk lines.
In addition to the scant supply of water the quality is not good. That furrished by Blissville—the oldest pumping station in the city, having been built in 1874 —is pumped from wells which have never be;n cleaned out, while that furnished from the Astoria station is salty and by no means pleasant to drink. The only one of the three stations which is satisfactory is that at Sunnvside. which furnishes the same kind of water as the Woodside and the Citizens’ (private) companies— being located on the same water strata as the Train’s meadow stations of both companies. 1’he BlissviMe station has two pump * capable of pumping daily 1,50000 gallons of water; the Suunyside, which has but a single pumping station without any reserve in case of an accident, can supply 600,000 gallons daily drawn from eleven wells, and the Astoria station the remainder, The pumps in use are two Worthington, one Molly quadiuplex’ one Guild & Garrison, and one Snow. In addition to Hairs municipal supply Long Isiand City has been buying w.itei from the Woodside Water Company, of Newtown, with wh ch former Mayor Gleason is mentioned as being intimately connected—in 1894, when it was incorporated, he certainly held 420 ol its $5,000 shares (capital stock $500,000)-— purchasing the water by the 5,000cubic feet.
The question uppermost has been how to supply abundance of potable water, President Rowley,of the borough of Queens, thinks this can be accomplished bv improving the Sunnvside station. The city owns forty-three acresof land there,on which only eleven wells have been sunk and there is a second boiler on the spot ready to be put in for another pumping engine. Meanwhile Chief Engineer Birdsai! has recommended that the present solitary engine in the station be run at half itscapacity, lest it should break down under the strain President Rowley proposed an arrangement to buy the Woodside Company’s plant outright or to buy water from it, to be delivered in th.* city mains at a pressure of eighty pounds, or to extend its mains so as to meet the necessities of the case. Phis idea, however, was not acceptable to Commissioner Dalton. The management of the company had been too much mixed up wit), politics, as its past history showed. The old charge was not forgotten that former Mayor Gleason had been its virtual founder during his term of office, and that, as mayor and. therefore, head of the bo^rd of water com nis.ione-s. he had formed it for the’purpose of making a contract between it and Long Island City. If he ever had this intention, the taxpayer’s suit brought by J. Rufus T erry to restrain the carrying out of the provisions of the contract thus made was successful, and the supply of water which the company was sending to Long Island City was cut off by order of the court over which Judge Gaynor presided. The company, it may be added, had laid sixteen miles of pipes m, and out of Long Island City.
T he Woodside .Company has a very complete plant. Its pumping stations are three in number. One, with forty-three wells to draw from, is at Maurice avenue—capacity, 500,000 gallons daily from the nine wells in use. Another is the Woodside station near that of the Citizens’ Water Company, which has twenty-four out of a possible seventy-three wells to draw from—capacity, perhaps, 2,500.000 gallons daily. A third station at Flushing is not working; itscapacity, however, is set down at 2,000,000 gallons daily. All the stations are connected with each other and can be used for the whole system, so as to supply 10.000,000 gallons a day. At present the company, whose president is Edward M. Tyrrell, has only a very small number of customers.
As was announced in FIKE AND WATER three weeks ago. Commissioner Dalton had made a three years’ contract with the Citizens’ Water Supply Company, of Newtown to connect with those of Long Island City (First ward, borough of Queens), and to furnish 500,000 gallons of potable water daily at the rate of $65 per million gallons. As was said in these columns last week, an offer was made to the Citizens’ Company to buy the piant of the Woodside Company. It was, declined, however, on the ground that the water pipes of that company are laid improperly, and that tht water from the Woodside wells will run through the soil into the Newtown wells when the latter got low. The mains in the Citizens’ Company will be connected with those of Long Island City and, as said above, will furnish 500,000 gallons of potable water daily at a pressure of 140 feet the quantity never to exceed 3,000,000 gallons a day—at the rate of $65 per million gallons.
Since that contract was made. Judge Gaynor,of the Supreme court in Brooklyn, has just granted a permanent injunction restraining Commissioner Dalton from making a contract with the Citizens’ Water Company,of Newtown, to supply water to the city. Under the contract the city would be supplied with water with 3,000.000 gallons of water daily at $65 per million gallons. The city could also acquire the company’s plant by purchase at the expiration of the three years’ contract. Judge Gaynor holds that, if the city needs the plant, it ought to buy it now at its present value, and not buy it at the value it may have at that time *’ First to enhance the value of such franchises and then purchase them would be a plain spoliation of the funds of the city,” Judge Gaynor writes in his decision.
The Citizens’ Water Supply Company was incorporated on June 3. 1893, with a capital of $25,000, in 250 shares of $too each. The stock ha* since been increased to $150,000, and the company was bonded in 1896 to the extent of $150,000. Its incorporators were Henry Skelton, John E Backus. Alexander Backus, Frederick Schuchardt. Augustus Rapalye.and Garret J. Garretson, all of Newtown; Cord Meyer, Maspeth, and John N . Meyen, Brooklyn. Its original aim was to aid in developing Elmhurst. Since its oiganization the company has always been an earning company and has never passed a dividend. Its franchise is unlimited, and it supplies the whole town, which comprehends seven villages, among which are Corona, Middle, Winfield, and Woodside. Its source of supply is fifteen four-inch driven wells, pumping to standpipe. The pumping engines are four Worthington—compound,condensing type, with a capacity of 750,000 and 1,000,000 gallons each, and two, six-cylinder, triple expansion—capacity 2,000,000 each. The standpipe is of iron, twenty-five by fifty feet,built by R.D. Wood Co., of Philadelphia—capacity, iS3.6oogallons. There are laid about forty-two miles of cast iron mains fourtecnnch to four-inch; with over 900 meters set, owned by consumer and repaired by the company. The average consumption is 300.000 gallons—maximum, 375,000; minimum 225,000; ordinary pressure, sixty pounds; fire, seventy pounds. T he company has two pumping stations, one at Woodside in Train’s meadow (already mentioned), and the other at Elmhurst, near the railway station. The company has in Train’s meadow fifty-six acres of ground, where it has already sunk sixty-four wells and is driving others. It has 2,000 consumers and its daily pumpage is about 750,000 gallons. In Newtown it has about 330 fire hydrants, paid for at the following rates: For first 150 $25 a year each; for second, $20 a year each; for each one over that number $18 a year—ten years’ contract from 1874. The pipes from the Citizens’ Company radiate from the pump holes in different directions and, with those of the Woodside Company,cover all the ground between the two pumping stations of the respective companies. T he water furnished by the Citizens’ Company is of first-class quality, and the corporation is so thor uglily in favor with the citizens of Newtown that they have asked the company to extend its franchise for a period of twenty years from 1900.
Of the other private companies within the limits ot the borough of Queens, the Jamaica Water Supply Company was incorporated in 1887, with a capital stock of $75,000—the company being bonded in 1887 to the extent of $100,000. It was intended primarily to operate in the town of Jamaica, and it now has contracts to supply the village of Jamaica, the Hollis water district, and the Queens water district. According to its franchise, which does not provide for the purchase of the works, the company must not charge higher rates than those charged in Brooklyn Its source of supply is wells—pumping to tank—fifty by forty feet—capacity, 795,000 gallons. In its pumping station, which is on the Merrick road, just outside of Jamaice, are two Holly, horizontal, duplex pumps—capacity, 1,000,000 each, which distribute the water through about sixty miles of pipe. The company lately proposed to Commissioner Dalton to supply the First ward of the borough of Queens with 5,000,000 gallons of water a day for five years at $60 per million gallons and then to sell out to the city of New York at a price to be fixed by the arbitration—as has already been announced in FIRE AND WATER, It claims that its supply of water is practically unlimited.
The Queens County Water Company dates back as far as 1884. and supplies Far Rockaway, Arverne, Rockaway Beach, and Rockaway Park, besides twenty eight hydrants in Eugemere, Lawrence, and Inwood. Its rates are fixed by contract, and the company is not exempt from local taxation. The yearly payment by the municipality for rental of 252 fire hydrants is $20 per year for each hydrant. The ordinary pressure is forty pounds. Its source of supply is deep wells and brooks—pumping to two wrought iron standpipes, one at Far Rockaway, twenty feet by too—capacity, 235,000 gallons; the other at Far Rockaway Park twelve feet by 150 feet—capacity, 93,000 gallons The pumping engines are as follows: Two Worthington compound, working against 250 feet head—capacity, 2.000.000 gallons each ; one Worthington compound, against forty feet head—caprcity, 4 000,000; one Davidson ceumpound, head, 250 feet—capacity. 1,000,000 gallons ; one Davidson high pressure, head, 150 feet— capacity. 750,000 gallons. The company can supply under ordinary circumstances from 6,000,coo to 8.000,000 gallons daily of water of superior quality. Its average consumption, through about forty-six miles of mains, is 929,000—maximum (for summer population of sometimes 30,000), 2,000,000 gallons ; minimum (for winter population of about 5.000), 400.000 gallons. Meters (use compulsory on all large consumers), 300. controled and repaired by the company), “except in case of freezing or other misuse”—can be compelled by company, and any consumer can be supplied with one.
The Woodhaven Water Supply Company was incorporated in 1888 with a capital stock of $50,000. Its original intention was to supply water to the big agate warehouse in Woodhaven only. Its extension into a water supply company was an afterthought. In 1889 the company was bonded to the extent of $40,coo—its capital stock being doubled in 1845. The source of supp’y is twelve driven wells by pumping. The pumping house is in the agate manufactory. In it are installed a Knowles pump and a Worthington pump—the water being pumped through twenty-seven miles of main. It has two storage reservoirs—total capacity, 5,000,000 gallons; these are located on a ridge near Woodhaven—elevation 100 feet ; 275 public hre hydrants, and twenty-five private in the different villages supplied by the company. Its daily capacity for the supply of Union Course, Clarenceviile. Brooklyn Hills, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, and the western part of the town of Jamaica to the north shore ol Jamaica bay, is from 1,250,000 gallons to 1,500,000 gallons.
The Montauk Water Company, which was founded by the Long Island Railway Company to supply the strations, engine houses.tanks,etc.,on its own line with water, was incorporated in 1895,with a capital stock of $500,000,in 5,000 shares to furnish water in Kings,Queens, and Suffolk counties —those through which the line of the Long Island railroad runs. The company’s assets are now at least $5,000; its debts, $2,500, and $205,000 worth of its capital stock has been issued. It hopes to do something some day in the way of a private contract with New York city for the supply of some portion of the borough of Queens. It has a pumping station near Dunton, and claims that it has an ample water supoly for the needs of Long Island City, and that, having its mains already laid into the citv, it can connect with the city system much more cheaply than a connection with another company can be made.
Flushing, whose water works, like those of Whitestone and College Point, belong to New York city, is, like the other towns, quite satisfied with its water supply. The waterworks were built by the village in 1874. Its water comes from driven wells at the head of Douglass pond—the water of the pond being used only in case of fire—the system being pumping direct. It has two pumping engines, a Holly quadruplex and a Blake,of the capacity of 1,500,000 gallons each. There are twenty-five miles of mains, 675 meters, 164 fire hydrants; pressure—ordinary, forty pounds, fire, 100 pounds; average daily consumption, 512,000 gallons.
The public water works of College Point were bui.tin 187475 by the village. Its source of supply is the Kissena springs, near Flushing, whence the water is pumped direct. The supply can be increased from Fresh Meadow brook, whose drainage area is nine and one-half square miles. The pumps are two Worthington—one i.aco.ooo-gallon, compound condensing, and one 1,300,000-gallon, non-compound, non-condensing. The area of the impounding reservoir is about one and one-half acres. The system is supplied with a standpipe and has fifteen miles of main, 130 meters, sixty hydrants; pressure—ordinary, about sixty pounds, fire, seventy-five pounds; consumption (average), 450000 gallons daily.
Whitestone’s public water works were built by the village in 1892. The source of the supply is driven wells between Whitestone and College Point—pumping direct to standpipe. Pumps, Worthington compound, condensing—capacity, 1,000,000 gallons.