THE WATER SUPPLY OF TOLEDO.
The public water supply of cities is a subject which must ever interest the student of sanitary science, as well as the less thoughtful but equally interested individual, whose time and energies are given to the business cares incident to city life.
If it be granted that “public health is public wealth,” then no large community can be counted upon as possessing the sound elements of financial prosperity whose public water supply is of doubtful quality, and therefore liable, instead of aiding mankind to combat and destroy the death-producing germs of filth and disease, to propagate and disseminate them.
Toledo stands high up in the list of well watered cities, when abundance of supply and distribution of mains is considered, and at a respectful distance from the foot of the list when quality alone is looked at.
Our fifty-four miles of distribution pipe, located in 103 streets, avenues and public by-ways, and fed through three miles of 30inch main, with a pumping plant capable of supplying, under ordinary conditions, 15,000,000 gallons of water per twenty-four hours, at a pressure of 100 pounds, if necessary, to the square inch, said supply being drawn from a source as inexhaustible as the great lakes themselves, give enduring promise of unremitting supply.
As to quality, the same praise cannot be extended. Half of the time no better water could be desired, but the storms of autumn, the “ break-up ” of early spring and the rains of early summer all bring turbulence to our river, dissatisfaction to our consumers and overloaded adjectives to the ears of our water-works officials.
* A paper by Samuel Segur of Toledo, O., read at the annual meeting of the Ohio State Sanitary Association at Toledo, febmary, 1888.
The clay country, which extends around us in all directions, and drains its soil-stained rainfall into the tributaries of the Maumee, as well as the rich mould of the “ Black Swamp,” brought hither through the medium of “Wood county ditches,” unite to give our water supply, on the occasions above enumerated, that unsightly but not especially deleterious character, which is the chief complaint with which heretofore we have had to deal.
Although at such times not a thing of beauty to look upon, it is, nevertheless, a wholesome, healthful beverage, containing, as shown by the analysis of Professor Charles F. Chandler of New York less than three-tenths of one grain of organic matter to the gallon, no trace either of albuminoid or free ammonia, and a total of solids to the gallon amounting to about six and one-half grains, half of which is carbonate of lime.
One other source of contamination has been recently forced upon our notice, upon the magnitude of which we are as yet unable to speak authoritatively. A sudden rise in the river brought down with the flood the unmistakable odor of crude oil, which continued for a period of three days and gradually passed away, proving the well-grounded fears expressed during the early development of the Northwestern Ohio oil fields. And here, indeed, mav come in the most difficult problem of all in solving the much-considered improvement of our water supply.
Crude oil afloat in the Lower Maumee during any great portion of the year must evidently render its waters useless for domestic purposes, and along with them the near waters of Lake Erie as well ; but, with present light on the subject, I am of the opinion that our river can be thus contaminated only during those occasional periods when the country to the southwest of our city is partially overflowed, and the excessive drainage therefrom brings with it the waste oil of that region, greater now, doubtless, than it will be in the future, when a more general use of that commodity as fuel will make it too valuable to be wasted as it has been. Add to this probability the undeniable fact that for full six months out of the twelve no drainage of any consequence reaches that portion of the river below the rapids, and an indication of the proper remedy is disclosed—namely, the use of storage reservoirs large enough to furnish our supply during a period of from four to six months duration.
A system of basins, located on ground high enough to afford easy drainage during the process of cleansing, which would doubtless be necessary at intervals, and furnished with a supply cither by gravity from above Providence dam, or by low service machinery of large capacity from the river near, would, it is believed, place the city in a position as regards its water supply which no other system of equal or less cost will do.
Other plans for the clarification of public water supplies have Irom time to time come into notice, prominent among them being various systems of filtration.
I think that the general (almost universal) experience, both in America and Europe, has been one of failure with the older systems of filtration, unless the water was first thoroughly clarified of suspended earthy matters by subsidence.
Certain it is, that the attempt made on Maurnee water so resulted fourteen years since, and subsequent tests with small filters have confirmed t h e judgment above expressed.
Of the new systems of filtration—i. e., those in which the filtering material can be readily and often cleansed of collected impurities—the “ Hyatt pure water system ” demands notice, from the fact that Mr. Hyatt not only claims for it the ability to successfully handle large public supplies, but has demonstrated that ability with some varieties of water to a greater or less degree.
His system consists in first treating the water with a strong solution of alum, then filtering rapidly, under pressure, through a mixture of pulverized coke and fine sharp sand, contained in an upright sheet-iron cylinder, which is divided horizontally by means of an iron head into two compartments of about equal capacity. The head is pierced by one or more valves, through which the filtering material passes, after being cleansed, to its bed in the lower half of the cylinder where the filtering is done ; and the mixture of finely ground coke and sand, when it has become foul from collected impurities, is drawn from its bed and deposited upon the head by means of a reverse current of water, where it undergoes a moic or less thorough cleansing by means of a strong current of unfihered water, the excess of which, with the larger portion of the deposited filth, is carried away through an overflow near the top of the cylinder.
Following the cleansing process, the reverse current is turned ofF and the filtering material again allowed to drop back to its proper place through the valves above spoken of.
The amount of alum used varies with the character and quality of the water ; the operator of a Hyatt plant in this State informed me that he used as little as six tenths of one grain, and as much as a grain and three-qua ters to the gallon during the different seasons of the year.
The appaient expense in operating a plant handling millions of gallons a day, is, in my judgment, the most serious obstacle which this syst m presents, althoug 1 the use of alum, necessitated by the rapid filtration, which must without its use fall lar short of rendering the water clear, would by some be considered an additional objection, both on account of the resulting hardness and the astringent character imparted to the water. I am aware that the objections here raised conflict decidedly with the claims and arguments offered in support of the system, and I offer them only as relating to the subject of this paper, “ The Water Supply of Toledo,” and as experience here has demonstrated the facts to be.
It may have been noticed that in considering the improvement of our water supply no reference has been made to Lake Erie as the future source of pure water for Toledo. My reasons for not doing so are manifold.
The western end of the lake is shallow and the general formation of its bottom clay, with a sparse deposit of gravel and sand.
Between this city and its nearest limits stretch twelve miles of muddy, sewage-polluted river and bay, and between the present terminus of our thirty inch main (Cherry street) and the nearest safe point for taking water from the lake stretch not less than fifteen miles.
At this point the depth of water will not exceed at its average stage eighteen feet, at which depth it is obvious that during storms the entire body of water must be affected from the action of the waves upon the clay and gravel of the bottom, and where, without doubt, any natural oil coming down the river must affect for the time being the purity of the water supply.
Finally, fifteen miles of large water main, mostly submarine, will cost not less than $1,500,000, a sum exceeding the entire disbursements, including the running expenses, of our works since their construction, and nearly equaling one-half of the present city debt. It is therefore apparently useless to seriously consider any plan looking to Lake Erie for a supply of dear and pure water; and, without doubt, the only feasible plan for attaining that very desirable result will eventually te what is here recommended—viz., large storage reservoirs, whose supply can be taken from the river during the time of its best condition, and where, after being so taken and stored, a further clarification may take place by subsidence.
In closing this paper I wish to express the hope that this association will continue its investigations into the problem of public water supply.
Nothing is of greater importance to the liealthfulness of cities or to the health and happiness of the human race.