THE WATERWORKS OF DECATUR, ILL.
An Historical Account of the Plant From Its Inception in 1879 to the Present Time.
Itv Harry Hut lira nil’.
Decatur, Ill., was first supplied with water from a well near the junction of the East Wood street and the Illinois Central railroad. The well was sunk in July and August, 1870, in an effort of the city to furnish water for a rolling mill that was established in the town at that time. When the well was completed a six-inch main was laid from it to a tank that the Illinois Central company had placed near its crossing with the Wabash railroad. From that point a four-inch main was continued east to the rolling mill, which was a mile and a half from the well. The railroad was connected with the water system, because in these days it was considered an important customer. A Cameron pump was purchased from Kupferle & company, St, Louts, for $1,460. This pump had a daily capacity of about 51×1,000 gallons and it was installed about December 1, 1870, with Engineer Benjamin Hinkle in charge. It was soon seen that the supply of water was not equal to the demand, so steps were taken to enlarge, the system. In January, 1871, Mayor Priest called a m iss meeting of citizens to discuss the question of a better and larger water supply, both for fire purposes and for domestic use. At that meeting it was resolved that a sum not to exceed $100,000 in bonds, be issued for the purpose of building a new pumping station and tile laying of more mains. In May. 1871. ground was purchased by the city on the north bank of the Sangamon river, the place where the pumping station now stands. t the same time it was decided to lay a twelveinch main from the pumping station to the Lincoln square a distance of one mile. On June 16. 1871, a contract was let to Dodson & Holmes to Ornish and install a No 1 Hollv pump, two No. 6 Holly patent electrical rotary fire pumps and 5.»8o feet of twelve-inch mains. The contract price for all the work was $34,937.06. The pumps were guaranteed to supply 1,000000 gallons of water every tvventv-four hours; also to furnish a pressure to send thr-e streams 100 feet high at Lincoln square. The contract was completed in good time and was accepted by the citv. Beniamin Hinkle was installed as chief engineer; Aldermen McNabb. Mills and Harostrite were made a supervisory hoard, and H. Mueller was made city plumber at the same time—-the exact date of his appointment being October 23, 1871. The aldermanic supervisory board was named on November 6, 1871. Decatur has now the Holly system of waterworks, with pumping station a mile south of the centre of the city, with the Sangamon river as a source of supply, and the works are in good condition. Troubles came early to those who at first had charge of the plant. It was discovered that, whenever the river was high, in the spring and at other times during the year, the water was muddy and unfit for use. In order to procure some filtering, in the fall of 1874, the city built a reservoir on the north oank of the river, near the pumping station. This was done by sinking a timber crib, IOO feet long, ten feet wide and six feet high. The crib was arched over with brick, and was sunk low enough to put it in a stratum of gravel four feet below the bed of the river. This reservoir furnished a limited supply of excellent filtered water. A year later, in 1875, this underground crib or reservoir was extended a distance of 400 feet east along the river. It took some time to finish this work, but in October, 1877, the city had an underground reservoir 500 feet long. This proved to be all that was expected of it and furnished an abundance of good and pure water. At that time it was thought necessary to connect the reservoir directly with the river as a precautionary measure, to make sure there should be enough water in the event of a heavy fire. A twenty-four-inch cast iron pipe was laid from the east end of the reservoir to the centre of the river. In 1878 it was found necessary, in order to increase the supply of water when the river was low, to build a dam. 1‘liis was completed in October, 1878. This raised the river four and a half feet at the reservoir and the inlet pipe, giving a permanent head of over eight feet to force water into the reservoir. After the completion of the dam, not much was done for a time. Some mains were laid, principally four-inch. Then the need of a more abundant water supply in the city began to be felt. This was because of the rapid increase in the population, the establishment of big factories and the increasing importance of the city in every way. To meet this need a Clapp & Tones pump was purchaser! on March 9, 1882. It was rated at having a capacity of 3,000,000 gallons every twenty-four hours, and was installed in place of the old Holly pump. The price of the Clapp & Jones pump in place was $7,550. Up to this time the waterworks plant had cost $155,000; but it was soon found necessary to increase the supply. So that on January 14, 1884, two pumps were purchased from 1C. P. Allis & Co., of Milwaukee. Each of the pumps had a capacity of 2,000,000 gallons a day, and their cost was $14,500. These pumps, with the Clapp & Jones engine furnished a supply of 7,000,000 gallons a day. In 1884 a sixteen-inch main was laid from the waterworks up South Broadway to the foot of East Main street—a distance of 6,756 feet. This main was connected with the twelve-inch main on Lincoln square by way of East Main street. That gave two direct mains from the pumping station, with this big increase in the amount of water pumped it was found that the underground reservoir could not filter it. At times the water was so bad that it could not be used for drinking. It became necessary to blow out the mains from the hydrants every fifteen days, especially during the spring and summer months. Having all the water supply needed, it was decided to figure on an adequate filter plant, and in 1894 a Warren filter was contracted for. At the same time a reservoir was built, having a capacity of 3.000,000 gllons.” A new Hughes pump was also installed to pump to the filter plant; it had a capacity of 3,500,000 gallons a day. The reservoir and filter plant were placed on a hill about 500 feet north of the pumping station, and they have an elevation of ninety feet above it. The total cost of the improvements made at this time (1894) was $50,000. In 1898 the plant was given a general overhauling, under the direction of Mayor B. Z. Taylor and Engineer C. A. Daigh, both now deceased. This overhauling was at a cost of $35,000. The capacity was increased 000,000 or more gallons a day. Connections were also made with all pumps direct to the city mains, so that, if it became necessary, direct pump ing could be resorted to at the rate of 9,500,000 gallons a day. Harry RuthraufT was first employed by tne city in June, 1888. at the age of twenty-two. as a helper or caulker of water pipe, lie acted in that capacity until the spring of 1891. when he was advanced to foreman, and continued in that capacity until June, 1893, when he was t■ ‘ v, ier inspector, and in June, 1894, the duties of plumbing inspector were added to his list. He now’ has charge of all standpipes, water meters and all apparatus used in taking water from the public water system, and has to inspect plumbing, stop waste of water and exercise a general supervision over the distribution system, except the filter plant and pumping station. At the time ne was appointed water inspector there were about six water meters set, and, believing there was too much water pumped for the revenue received, he had four assistants appointed, who made a canvass of the city, and found a number of places using water that were not on the records. Many other places were also found that were on the records, but had not given in the total number 01 fixtures. The amount to he paid by all those companies was raised, and, if they had remained on the flat rate the revenue of the city would have been increased by $9,264.07 a year, lie also recommended that all large consumers be asked to place meters, which was done, and resulted in a raise of the revenue by $5,000, and at the same time much waste water was cut off. The city was pumping less water and getting more money for it. The inspector is now agitating that all services be metered.
Total, 184.042 feet, as follows: Sixteen-inch, 12.792 feet; twelve-inch, 12,492 feet; eight-inch, 399 feet; six-inch, 128.052 feet; four-inch, 30.307 feet.
Hydrants.—Holly, twenty-eight; Bourbon, forty-seven; Flower, five; Galvin, twelve; R. 1). Wood. 237—total, 329. Of the hydrants. 127 have six-inch supply, with five and a half-inch steamer connections.
Meters.—The total number of meters in use is 1.204, as follows: Trident, 262; Lambert. 188; Nash, 183; Davies, 158; Mersey, 127; Niagara, 118; Crown, eighty-four; Thomson, thirty-three; Keystone, fourteen; Worthington, thirteen; Empire. nine; Columbia, eight; Pittsburg, six; Gem, one. All meters arc tested before they are installed, and they must be within two per cent, of being correct. Consumers outside the city pay one rate and a half; churches, a half rate; hospitals are on the free list. The number of water takers is 2,800; the revenue for 1903 was $32,812.92: expended on construction and repairs. $26,772.90—net gain 1903, $6,040.02; estimated revenue for the year 1904, $38,870; construction and repairs, $26.500; estimated gain, $12,370. The coming year promises to be a busy one. There are 2,200 feet of six-inch pipe on the ground now, which will he laid as soon as spring opens. It is probable that a mile of twelve-inch main will he laid this year. The bonded indebtedness of the city is $16,000, at five per cent. That is all the indebtedness the city has.