THE WATER SUPPLY OF NEW YORK

THE WATER SUPPLY OF NEW YORK

Excerpts From The Message of Mayor McClellan.

In a message of 50,000 words Mayor McClellan devotes a fairly large share to the subjects of the fire protection and water supply of New York city. These two—especially the water supply— he sets down as essential requisites in the life of the citizens. As might have been expected, the mayor devotes much greater space to the subject of water supply than to that of fire protection. The latter he dismisses in a few words and includes either among the structural changes of the year or in his allusion to the installation of the high-pressure system in Manhattan and its operations in Brooklyn. He points out that in Manhattan the installation brought about a reduction in insurance premiums on December 9, which will mean an immediate saving in premiums of $500,000 a year, and is to be followed by another reduction. In Brooklyn, where there has been a great reduction in insurance rates, due to the improved water supply, about $250,(XX) of that reduction is “directly due to the installation of the high-pressure system, so that this great improvement has already earned at least three-quarters of a million dollars’ return annually to the taxpayers. The system (the mayor adds) is, therefore, not only to he regarded as a primal protection to life and property, but, also, one of the most productive investments of the city.”

Speaking of his efforts to abolish the Croton aqueduct commission by suitable legislation, Mayor McClellan says: “I have no reason to change my recommendation of last year that this commission be abolished. What little work there remains to be done can be done more effectively by either the department of water supply, gas, .and electricity or the board of water supply. In the hands of either of these departments a great financial saving can be accomplished. Under the amended law which permits the commission to exist until its work is completed, it is apparent that the members contemplate perpetual life. Although the new Croton dam was completed in 1906, and the Cross river dam was finished a year ago, neither has yet been turned over to the control of the local water department, which is the proper superintendent of maintenance. Plans for a new storage-reservoir in the northeast corner of the Croton watershed, at a cost of $3,500,000, have been prepared by the commission, without as much as consulting the department of water supply, which is responsible for the supply and for any necessity which may exist for it. Other expenditures are also in contemplation by the commission, and it is impossible to escape the conviction that these works are planned for the sole purpose of keeping the commission in existence. If this bipartisan commission has the power, as it apparently has, to involve the city in numerous unnecessary expenditures without consulting the local authorities, then it should be wiped out without delay. It is my purpose again to recommend such legislation at this session.”

As was natural. Mayor McClellan adverts to the new Catskill supply. He deprecates all criticism on the subject, and insists that “criticism of the work of obtaining an additional water supply in the Catskill mountain-shed should not be that it is extravagant and unnecessary, but that the city of New York should have begun the work long before it did. We should be actually getting water now from the Catskills, or some equally good source. Our shortage today would be far more serious but for the plentiful rainfall of 1907. The water-shortage danger is an ever-increasing one, not only because of the demands oi a constantly increasing population, but because of the indications of a diminution in the abnormally abundant rainfall of recent years. On account of this situation, the city is not only hastening the construction of the Catskill aqueduct between Ashokan reservoir and the Croton watershed, but is working on the temporary development of a supply from sources cast of the (Hudson river.” He estimates that the amount of water to be supplied by the Catskill system and the Suffolk county well system will furnish 1.000,000,(XX) gal. of water daily. With respect to the borough of Queens, Mayor McClellan deems the acquisition of the Cord Meyer Water company in that borough “advisable.” With reference to the water supply in general, he says that in no other respect has the improvement been so marked within the last five vears. Of the Jerome Park reservoir and the proposed filtration plant there, lie says: “In my last annual message I called attention to the fact that the engineers of the department, assisted by the most eminent experts in the United States, had made an exhaustive study of this question. Their conclusion was that the best place available was the east basin of the Jerome Park reservoir, and accordingly all other construction wrork there was stopped. This has led to some criticism on the part of persons ignorant of the city’s plans for this property. There has been some delay, caused by the preparation of plans for the work and by the city’s financial condition. The situation at present is that the commissioner of water supply has made application for an appropriation of $4,000,000 for the masonry part of the filtration plant, including the basin for the treated water, that the board of estimate, following the usual custom, has referred the matter to the department of finance, and that that department has not yet reported on it. The water department is prepared to start work as soon as the money is available.” The budget for 1909 contains the item : Department of water supply, gas and electricity, $1,711,291—an increase of $3,762 over the same item in 1904.

In alluding to the city’s fire protection, Mayor McClellan says that among the other structural changes of the four years are the provision of 42,602 new fire-escape balconies, the provision of 4,930 skylights, and the cutting of windows in 24,543 dark interior rooms. During the present year to November 30, 5,941 fire-escape balconies have been provided and 2,070 skylights, while 12,401 windows have been cut in dark rooms. In connection with the existing methods of fire protection, the mayor thus speaks of the auxiliary high-pressure system and of the fire service in the city in general:

“No other city in the world possesses a system of fire protection equaling ours in magnitude and efficiency, and it safeguards, among others, our drygoods district, with its enormous values, a bad fire in which has long been the dread of merchants and fire insurance companies; since such a conflagration would bankrupt every large fire insurance company doing business in the United States. * * * The system in Coney Island protects an area of about 146 acres, and has 8,500 feet of mains. The cost of installation was $100,000. Salt or fresh water may be used. The Brooklyn system protects the drygoods and liighoffice-building district, covering an area of about l’.400„acres* * * The cost of the system was m,400,IX), and it is now complete. The Manhattan system comprises an area of about 1,456 acres.’ I he system is to be extended in each case.

Of the actual work of the citv’s fire department the mayor speaks thus: “Some idea of the activities of the department may be gained from these statistics: From January 1, 1904. to October 1, 1908, the department responded to 43,316 alarms in the boroughs of Manhattan, The Bronx, and Richmond, and to 20,143 in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.” The appropriation for the department for 1909 is $2,071,265— $4,553 above that for 1904.

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THE WATER SUPPLY OF NEW YORK.

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THE WATER SUPPLY OF NEW YORK.

The apprehensions of the fire underwriters regarding the water supply of New York are shared by other interests, and, as a result of various conferences between delegates from civic bodies, the following communication was recently sent to Hon. George B. McClellan as chairman of the board of estimate and apportionment: “The undersigned representatives of various civic organisations respectfully call the attention of the board of estimate and apportionment to the grave danger confronting the city of New York because of lack of provision for an adequate water supply. The consumption of Croton water in Manhattan and the Bronx in 1903 was about 270,000,000 gallons per day on the average. The area of the Croton watershed above the new dam is 360.4 square miles, and the safe yield of this watershed during dry years, after the new reservoir will be completed, will not exceed 750,000 to 800,000 gallons per day per square mile, or from 270,000,000 to 288,000,000 gallons per day. In a dry season, such as occurred several times between 1880 and 1898, and which is sure to occur again, the total supply of Croton water for Manhattan and the Bronx under present conditions would not be more than 250,000,000 gallons per day—that is, 20,000,000 gallons per day less than the city is actually using at the present time. The serious consequences of such a condition of affairs, not only to the business and financial interests of the city, but to the health and safety of the community as well, need not be dwelt upon.

“Even with the work on the Cornell dam and Jerome Park reservoir finished, the total yield in a dry year would not exceed 270,000,000 gallons per day, which is the amount of water that is now being used in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. In spite of the saving from waste made in recent years, and even with the loss of water from this source diminished, the consumption of water in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx is increasing each year at the rate of 7,000,000 gallons per day. During the thirteen years prior to 1903 the consumption of Croton water in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx has increased from 140,000,000 to 270,000,000 gallons, or an average yearly increase of about 10,000,000 gallons per day. The consumption of Croton water, therefore, during the next five years in Manhattan and the Bronx will be about: During 1904 from 277,000,000 to 280,000,000 gallons per day. During 1905, from 284,000,000 to 290,000.000 gallons per day. During 1906, from 291,000,000 to 300,000,0′ o gallons per day. During 1907, from 298,000,000 to 310,000,000 gallons per day. During 1908, from 305.000,000 to 320,000,000 gallons per day.

“Without provision for an increased supply of water to meet this increase of consumption, a water famine will surely result with the first dry season. The situation in the borough of Brooklyn and in the boroughs of Queens and Richmond is almost equally serious:’ Within a few years the entire. sources of additional supply for these boroughs will have been exhausted. Except for the possible increase for the borough of Brooklyn, the available sources of additional water supply for the entire city (within the State of New York) lie to the north and northwest of the present Croton watershed. To get water from any of these sources it is necessary in every case to build a tunnel through the mountainous country north of the Croton watershed. Under the most favorable conditions it will take five years to build this tunnel. Existing law gives the city power to condemn for its water supply land in any part of the State except in Dutchess and Suffolk counties. The city has the financial ability and the legal power to build the tunnel through which the additional water supply must be brought. To sum up: The city’s dire need of more water is known. The available sources of additional water supply are known. A commission composed of three of the most competent and best equipped experts in the country has reported complete and thoroughly worked out plans which, if carried out intelligently, will within the shortest possible time bring these sources within reach of the city and furnish an adequate supply of water to every one of its. boroughs. The city has ample legal power to begin the work at once. We would respectfully submit that your honorable board should either adopt the plans submitted in November, 1903, by the commission on additional water supply, or should promptly give most cogent reasons for rejecting the plans.” The letter is signed by the following: The City Club, by Horace E. Doming; Manufacturers’ Association of New’ York, by Chas. N. Chadwick; Citizens’ Union, by Robert Van Iderstine; Brooklyn League, by Abner S. Haight; Flatbush Taxpayers’ association, by George W. Brush; New York Board of Fire Underwriters, by Henry Evans; A. B. Hepburn, chairman committee on internal trade and improvements, Chamber of Commerce ; Oscar S. Straus, president New York Board of Trade and Transportation.