American Municipalities Appropriating Huge Sums for Extensions and Improvements to Water Works, Filtration and Purification While Hundreds of Smaller Towns Will Install Systems

WHILE the water works was not hit as hard by the war as some other public utilities, owing to the indispensability of water supply, nevertheless extensions and improvements outside of those which were imperative, were suspended.

With the removal of manufacturing restrictions, as well as the fear of heavy future war taxes and general hard times, and with an apparently bright future for labor supply, there has been a pronounced and lively move toward completing pre-war extensions and making new improvements. The attitude in the smaller cities seems to be that as long as they are going in for extensions or improvements, and with general conditions quite satisfactory, they might as well do a good job of it and put the plants in such shape that they will be sufficient for years to come. This is shown by the unusually large appropriations made by small cities and towns for water works additions. For example, the town of Pipestone, Minn., which, at the last census, had a population of 2,475, is going to spend $77,000 for water works improvement; Calexico, Calif., rated at 797 population, has sold $42,000 worth of bonds for water works improvements; Wharton, X. J., with a population of 2,983 in the last census, will spend $150,000 on water works. These are but three; there are scores of similar cases.

The increasing number of small towns installing new water works plants deserves notice. During January of this year thirty-seven towns, in reports to this journal, stated that installations of water systems were either under way or had been provided for by bond issues. The contrast with the same month of last year is conspicuous, during which period but 19 such reports were received. Some of the water plants provided for by bond issues or other means include Brainard, Minn., where $250,000 will be spent; Quinton, Okla., $98,000; Elizabethown, N. J., where the Elizabethtown Water Company and affiliated companies will construct a large water plant, including filtration works.

In medium sized cities the tendency is also toward extensive improvements. Filtration plants, pumping stations and large reservoirs are frequently mentioned among proposed improvements. Wausau, Wis., has already asked bids on construction of a 4.000,000-gallon filtration plant estimated to cost $500,000; at Monroe, La., a $100,000 bond issue has been authorized for a filtration plant; Parsons, Kas., will build a filtration plant costing in the neighborhood of $90,000 during the current year, and Dover, N. J., intends having a new plant before the year is over. Muskogee. Okla., will spend $200,000, Watertown, S. D., $90,000, and Bellevue, Ohio, $135,000 on general waterworks improvements, while Dayton, Ohio, will install new pumping machinery.

Large cities show similar activity in preparing for waterworks betterment as indicated by the following:

St. Louis, Mo., a bond issue of $20,000,000 is being considered for enlargement of water works.

Cleveland, Ohio, $14,810,000 of’ bonds will be issued for public improvements, principally in the water works.

Dallas, Tex., an election will be called soon to vote on issuing $3,000,000 of bonds for water works improvements.

Kansas City, Mo., is to spend about $1,250,000 on a new storage reservoir and necessary equipment therefor.

Denver, Colo., plans are being made for water works extensions this year which, it is estimated, will cost approximately $600,000.

Baltimore, Md., press reports state this city is planning a new pumping station and a new filtration plant of 120.000,000 gallons capacity.

Newark, N. J., reports state that city is considering an appropriation of $800,000 for water works extensions and improvements.

Waterbury, Conn., will spend between $125,000 and $150,000 on extensions of water mains during current year.

Wheeling, W. Va., plans are being prepared for a filtration plant.

Boston, Mass., city plans to complete high pressure water system this year and build three high pressure pumping stations.

What Will Be Needed This Year

The needs of the water works field will, during the current year, be heavy and will include all kinds and types of apparatus and supplies, for one large improvement or addition usually makes necessary a lot of auxiliary equipment. For instance, an appreciable extension of mains requires, besides pipe, hydrants, valves, and service connection appurtenances where new services are made possible thereby; likewise, an increase in pumping capacity through additional boiler equipment and additional feeder mains, with necessary valves, etc.

Boilers: The difficulty of securing boiler equipment due first to war restrictions and second to diverting factories of such equipment to lines more directly contributing to winning the war brought the number of water works boiler installations down to a minimum during the past two years. The reaction will mean a very busy period for boiler manufacturers during the present year.

Boiler accessories: What has been said of boilers applies equally well to stokers, chain grates, ash and coal conveyors, if not more so. Even though these labor-saving devices were urgently needed during war time, the lingering impression in the minds of some waterworks men that they were luxuries was effective in checking their installation at the first pinch of war economy and well before governmental restrictions were imposed. On the other hand, their excellent performance in all kinds of war industries, working under very high pressure and when the labor problem was most serious, will prove a big impetus in putting automatic stokers, chain grates, ash and coal conveyors in even the most conservative of water plants.

Chemicals: There will be an increase in the use of chemicals proportional to the increase in water consumption through opening up of new systems and relaxing in water economy. The use of chemicals (hiring the war was, however, but little diminished from that used in peace time, for standard for purity had to be maintained at all costs.

Filters and Sterilizers: If present activity is any index of what is to come, 1919 will be the greatest year that filter manufacturers have ever experienced. Fully a score of medium sized cities are already planning to install filtration plants and as many more are considering chlorination equipment or electric sterilizers. A few of the proposed plants are enumerated above.

Gas and Oil Engines: The unprecedented number of small water works plants being built will mean a large demand for gas engines, which have shown themselves to be very satisfactory for operating pumping engines where only unskilled help can be afforded.

Meter and Meter Boxes: A much closer approach to universal meterage this year appears to be the aim in water plants which have given meters a trial. The large cities in particular are looking with more favor upon the adoption of a policy of metering all services.

Motors: With the adaptation of the centrifugal pump to small water works and the more general use of electric driven deep well pumps, the suitability of electric motor drive on small installations has become evident. A very large percentage of new pump installations, as well as a large number of present steam or gas driven pumps, can be expected to be provided with electric drive during the present year.

Pipe: The amount of pipe required in the coming months must necessarily be in proportion to the extensions made, and which, from all indications, will be very large.

Pumps: Replacement of obsolete pumps and installations to make up for the two-year period of comparative inactivity, as well as to meet the needs of the year as they arise, will keep pump manufacturers hustling during 1919. This applies to installations for large cities and to deep well and air lift pumps for towns alike.

Tanks: As usual, tanks will find a demand in the larger part of small water works installations.

Trenching Machines, Backfillers, and Tamping Machines: It will be a long time before sufficient unskilled labor can be secured to take care of even normal labor needs. There will be but one way around this difficulty when water main extension work begins on a large scale; make use of such labor-saving tools as trench machine, backfillers and tamping machines.

Valves and Hydrants: The demand for hydrants and valves will be measured by water main extensions.

Summing up the situation, it may be stated without fear of going beyond the limits of conservatism that the coming year will see a greater demand for every tvpe of machinery and equipment employed in water works service than has ever been experienced in any previous twelve months in the country’s history.

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