The Water-Works of Hartford, Conn.
The Board of Water Commissioners of the city of Hartford have, within certain limits, by direct legislative action, all powers necessary for obtaining and maintaining an adequate supply of pure water for the domestic consumption of the city. This is a liberty not enjoyed by the officers of some municipalities, but which in this case has been found to work to the benefit of the city, and to the credit of the various boards which have managed its affairs since the inception of these works, Previous to 1855 the water supply was derived from wells and a few small wooden conduits furnishing little water and under light pressure. During the jears 1854-5 a distributing reservoir was built on the highest land within the then city limits, into which water was pumped from the Connecticut river, something less than one mile distant.
The capacity of these works becoming inadequate, owing to the growth of the city and increased demands from consumers, the quality of the water moreover being questioned, it was decided by a vote of the citizens, October 3, 1864, to adopt a gravity supply, the source to be from the eastern slope of a mountain range west of and distant about six miles front the centre of the city. Il was at that time supposed and asserted that the damming of a small mountain stream would, with the laying of a main pi|e over the intervening distance, afford an ample supply, if not for all time, at least for a long term of years. It did indeed, with one auxiliary storage reservoir and pretty frequent resort to the pumps, which had been kept in working older, answer the more pressing demands of increased consumption till about the yeat 1873; in that year it was determined to develop and increase if possible the water-shed to such extent tlint water from this source could be furnished in abundance, and the use of the pumps at the river lie dis|en*ed with. / Since this time additions have been made to the water-shed,’storage reservoirs, catch ponds and canals constructed, and such arrangements made that the whole of the immediate available water-shed is now developed to its full extent, very little if any of an ordinary year’s rain-fall being wasted. Arrangements for the addition of a large and at present disconnected drainage area are now being made, and it is ex|ietled that constructions more than doubling the present available supply will be completed before their pressing need has been demonstrated by the unanswerable argument of a year’s short supply.
The works for maintenance of supply at the present time are confined to a drainage area of about ten square miles, on which are situated in various localities and at different elevations live storage reservoirs, having a capacity of about 1,200,000,000 gallons, about ten miles of canal and numerous small catch ponds, all arranged in such manner as to distribute the rain-fall according to the various capacities of these different basins, and in most cases allow the drawing off of w ater from any of these reservoirs into the distributing reservoir without passing through other ponded water. The lowest of these live storage reservoirs is also used as a distributing reservoir. Its capacity is 146,000,000 gallons, its area thirty-two acres and it has a depth of thirty-four feet at the gate house. From the distributing reservoir two 20-inch iron mains convey the water to the city. These mains arc laid parallel and about twenty feet apart, and are gated and connected at intervals, so that a uniform flow is maintained in each, or sections of either may be flushed or shut off for repairs without interfering with the city supply.
By an arrangement of catch |onds at the three waterways entering the distributing reservoir, water from any other reservoir may be intercepted and by ” by passes ” carried around the distributing reservoir and made to enter either or both of the above-mentioned supply mains. These arrangements enable the management to supply direct to the consumer water from any one of the storage reservoirs, and since their introduction no complaint of impure or fishy water has been made. The two supply mains are at various points arranged for flushing, as are also the street mains, of which at present there are about seventy-five miles in use. These are also so arranged as to avoid dead ends and insure as complete circulation as possible.
The total cost of these works has liecn to the present time about $1,800,000. Since 1882 the revenue, w hich is now about $160,000, has exceeded current expenses and cost of new constructions, and such excess has been used in reducing the bonded indebtedness. About $300,000 worth of bonds have been taken up in this manner, the amount now outstanding being about $750 000.
The officers annually elected by the commissioners are a president who must also be a member of the commission and whose duties arc those of presiding officer and superintendent of the various departments; a secretary, acting next to the president, and an engineer in charge of construction and maintenance of supply. The present incumbents of these offices, who have all filled their positions for nearly or about twenty years, are : President, lion. Ezra Clark; secretary, J. S. Chase; engineer, Henry W. Ayres.
Hartford is justly proud of its water supply and exhibits its works with pleasure, claiming to have not only an excellent supply, but to lurnish water at a minimum cost to the consumer as compared with other cities, at the same time accumulating a surplus for the redemption of its own bonds or the enlargement of its present system.