TO PROBE WATER WASTE IN MANHATTAN.
Last week there was a meeting of the members of the City Club of Manhattan, at which Professor Edward W. Bemis, the new deputy water commissioner of New York, and Charles N. Chadwick, one of the commissioners of the new water supply for the city, were present. Mr. Chadwick made an address on the Catskill water supply, using a number of lantern slides illustrating the subject. He took the stand that the immense system now being built, with its ultimate capacity of 500,000,000 gallons of water a day for the city’s supply, was the only way out of the water problem. After thirty years of operation its cost of $161,000,000 will have been met by the revenue derived by the city from the water it will provide and thereafter yield to the city $10,000,000 annually. The population of the city is increasing so rapidly that, if the Catskill system is not rushed, the city will face a water famine within a few years. The first reservoir, with a capacity of supplying 250,000,000 gallons a day, is to he completed in 1915, and it has been the intention to finish the second with a similar capacity, in 1925, and this revenue, lie suggested, could he applied lo the construction of subways, parks, and schools. In thirty years the revenue to be derived in this way, he said, would more than pay for the entire cost of construction and would pay oft the interest on the bonds issued for the work.
Professor Bemis explained the wmrk done in Cleveland along the line of saving water waste by meterage, lie said: “We found in Cleveland that for every dollar spent in putting a check on tho water waste that $2 were saved the city in the outlay that would have been necessary to establish extensions to the system. It seems to me that what was accomplished in Cleveland could not only he done here, but that the saving to New York would lie even relatively greater. The average consumption of water in this city is from 125 to 135 gallons for each inhabitant a day, and this can be greatly reduced. I am not prepared lo say that there would he a saving of 50 per cent, in the supply, as some have maintained, but it would he a very material saving in any event.” He explained that by a system of valves set in the water mains at least one in every city block, so that the water could be shut off at any time, would he one means of stopping waste. Then there ought to he valves at each feed pipe running from the street main to houses, and water meters installed in every building. In England there has been a great saving of water hv the simple means of stopping leakage from the street mains, and the people there have been perfectly willing to have a rigid system of inspection. Here we do not take to the meter Idea, and there is a wholesome dread of the inspector. But it will have to come. It will take a little time to get things going in the right way. It will he some months before we will be able to get down to the installation of meters. Before that is done there will have to he a thorough inspection of the water mains. 1 f we can get the new system of meters and of valves in the street mains going properly there will be no trouble in convincing the Board of Estimate, 1 am confident, that the work on the Catskill supply can be put off.”
Mr, Lincoln Rates made some remarks on the subject, in which be classed Mr. Chadwick as an “expansionist” as opposed to what he called the “economists.” The key to the situation, he said, is not in the construction of a system costing millions of dollars, hut iti cutting off the waste. It may he that the first reservoir might be necessary. hut I believe that if we got after the waste we should find that it would be unnecessary to exnend the money for the second part of the Catskill system, at least for years. The money saved in this way could be applied to the parks, schools, and subways, to which Mr, Chadwick referred. and they are badly needed. Of the quantity of water supplied to Manhattan and the Bronx 45 per cent, is unaccounted for. Where does it go? Docs it leak out through the pipes? M e ought to find out. The city of Washington proposed building an extension to its water sys tern, hut found that, when it had checked the waste, it was not necessary to spend the money. It is known that water has been stolen on a large scale in Brooklyn. One firm alone stole $585,000 worth in one year. A railroad company stole another large qunntitv of water in The Bronx.
One of onr bia apartment houses lias been another offender. Me ought to find out where the leakage is all over the city and attend to that before going any further with our expensive plans for the Catskill system. The city of London uses 3fi gallons of water a day per capita, against 135 for each inhabitant of this city. It has been suggested that the difference is to he accounted for in the number of baths we take. It requires twenty-five gallons of water for an ordinary hath. Every man, woman and child in New Y’ork would have to take four baths a day to make up the difference between the London consumption and our own.
Thomas A. Fulton produced statistics showing that 200,000,000 gallons of water a day are unaccounted for in this city. London uses 225,000,000 gallons a day, he said, so that the waste of New York would almost supply London. Mr. Fulton declared he could not see the logic of Mr. Chadwick’s contention that the Catskill system would pay for itself in thirty years. He recalled that there was still a debt of $82,000,000 on the old Croton waterworks, lie further said that our policy lias been to pour in more water and spend more money, while w’e ought to save the water and spend less money.