TOO GREAT ABUNDANCE: OUTCOME, WASTE.

TOO GREAT ABUNDANCE: OUTCOME, WASTE.

“Too much of a good thing (says the old saw) is good for nothing.” The proverb, if somewhat musty, may be modified in the case of water into “Too much water is good for waste,” and waterworks men can answer for it that, even with all the abundance of water, as of so many other natural productions in the United States, there ensues at times a serious, even a dangerous lack of this, one of the chief necessaries of life, owing altogether to the enormous waste that goes on, with the full knowledge of the municipal authorities, in so many cities. It is a well known fact that foreign municipalities use from one-half to two-thirds less water per capita than American cities. Granting for argument’s sake that more attention is paid to baths and waterclosets on this side of the Atlantic than on the other, that admission would not invalidate the assertion that the waste of water in the United States is both enormous and uncalled for, costly to the cities which indulge in it, unjust, also, to the conscientious and economical citizen, and unfair to the small consumer, all of whom are thus compelled to pay for water which they have not used nor could use, unless they of set purpose kept their faucets running day and night. If the avoidable waste were stopped, as it would be in great measure by meters, there would still be water enough and to spare, while the pumping, fuel, and maintenance expenses would be appreciably lessened, the price of the water lowered to the consumer, and the cost of procuring another supply, often at a great distance from the city or town, either avoided altogether, or else staved off for years. Instances innumerable could be quoted to prove this point. Take, for example, Cincinnati, Ohio, where meters are installed wherever it is clear that water is being wasted without the city being recouped for that waste. In some cases where this has been done, the revenue from that particular consumer has been doubled—in every instance, it has been sensibly increased; the waste has been considerably lessened; and there has been no complaint from the consumer of being stinted in his water supply. There are, of course, many who advance objections, more or less specious, against water meterage. Among these is that which claims that the introduction of meters entails a very large outlay upon the city, and one which it takes many years to repay. But. as a rule, the city is not metered all at once, and the money saved at the end of the first year, if only in the cost of maintenance, not only pays the interest of the outlay, hut also leaves a surplus, more or less large, which goes towards meeting the expense of metering another section, which, in its turn, begets a saving there, plus that going on in the first section metered, and so on, till within a very few years the whole cost of installing meters is covered; the avoidable waste has been stopped; and the city set at ease as to the adequacy of its water supply. Another objection is. that the expense of the maintenance of the meters thus installed falls heavily upon the city. That, however, is a mistake. To quote only one instance, that of Harrisburg, Pa.: The accounts as kept by the water department of Pennsylvania’s capital show that the annual saving in the waste of water more than covers the expense of repairing the meters, which, after all. amounts only to one per cent. Thus, from whatever standpoint the matter is looked at. it will be seen that it pays to install water meters even in places where, owing to the superabundance of water, there is no fear of a scarcity and. therefore, at first sight no need of guarding against it by meterage, if only because the less the water supplied by mechanical means, the less wear and tear there is of the supplying machinery. the smaller the consumption of coal, or of whatever means is employed in the pumping and distribution of the water, and the less the amount to be paid out in salaries for workers round the pumping station—all of the money saved in this way going to diminish the taxpayers’ burdens.

Chiconee and Holyoke, Mass., have no use for a metropolitan water system. The latter city considers it would have ground for a suit against Springfield if it took water from the Connecticut river.

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