Water Department of Council Bluffa

Water Department of Council Bluffa

For just one year Council Bluffs, Iowa, a city of 35,000 inhabitants, has owned its waterworks system, which supplies about 5,200 services, and during the past twelve months has cleared approximately $60,000, after expending about $140,000 on extensive improvements, etc. It is now being further extended and, when completed, the system will suffice for the needs of 50 years from now. The plant was built 30 years ago and practically had not been improved since it was installed. The city paid $510,000; the $600,000 bond issue realized $608,000, and as the city had set apart portions of the levies for hydrant rentals, it started with over $100,000 at its disposal. The council found that, as the water company bad refused to lay new mains, there were about 10 miles more or less of small mains laid in the streets by private citizens, some of them being 1-inch or 1/2-inch pipes. One man would lay a pipe for himself and two or three would connect with it, the result being that if more than one person wanted to drink, the others would have to wait for their turn. Of settling basins, in the true sense of the word, there were none. Of pumping engines there were two, but only one wax ever used, the other standing idle in the weeds near the pumping station, to he taken thence and installed in place of the one in use in case of a breakdown. Fortunately no such breakdown ever occurred If it had happened, the citizens would have had to put up with a scarcity of water, perhaps none at all. while the one pump was being taken down and the other was moved from the weeds and installed in its place. The breakdown, however, fortunately never took place. Owing to the arrangement of the three basins by which the water flowed into one basin and was pumped from that into the two others alternately and then into the mains, not only was the distribution throughout the city irregular, but the water never had a chance to settle. The pumps themselves were 30 years old. In the beginning they were cheap affairs as pumps, but dear to operate. The building was poor, and the arrangements for shipping and storing the coal was as poor and inconvenient as possible. To-day at the Thirty-third street station three new basins of reinforced concrete are nearly completed. Their total capacity is 8,000,000 gallons—a 48-hour supply. The Water is pumped into the first basin, whence it flows over a weir into the second, and thence over another weir into the third, the aeration process taking place in the second. This ensures the proper settling of the supply. Two new electrically driven pumps with a combined capacity of 20,000 gallons have been installed, the power being secured from the Electric Light Company. An old pump in the station, together with the steam plant that operated it, will be removed and a neat building will enclose the pumps and the standpipe into which the old machines pumped the water which flowed from it into the Broadway reservoir.

Into the Broadway reservoir the old boilers, which are still in good condition, are being moved, and so much better are the arrangements, and with the use of better coal, it will now be necessary to employ one boiler for the pumps. In this station are two 30-year-old pumps, with a capacity of 4,000,000 gallons daily. They are very expensive to operate and will be used only in case of emergency. The new pump just purchased has a capacity of about 8,000,000 gallons in 24 hours and will cost less to operate. The old brick reservoirs are in bad shape and will be overhauled, after which they will be made into one storage basin, with a capacity of about 10,000,000 gallons, and the walls will be concreted. At this station the water is pumped into the mains and what is not used flows into the Glen avenue reservoir. The pressure in the business section of the city is about 90 pounds, but in case of fire it can be at once raised to 100 pounds —sufficient to throw a stream over any building in the Bluffs. In the hottest weather the consumption of water is only 4,000,000 gallons daily; the capacity of the new plant is more than double that amount. As to the mains: The 10 miles of private mains and their inadequate capacity have already been alluded to. In other streets larger mains were needed. Main street, for instance. had only a 6-inch main—totally inadequate in case of fire for the many business buildings upon it. A 12-inch main, therefore, was laid upon this street and larger hydrants were set, although the old main and hydrants were left in position. Sixty new hydrants have been set where they were badly needed, and last year three miles of new mains were laid and 10 miles more are being added, with five miles more for next year—all by the city and at no expense to the property owners.

Meters are being installed and every service will soon be metered—also at the expense of the city. So far between 700 and 800 meters have been installed by the city. Of the 5,200 consumers about 2,000 have their supply metered; the rest will soon be similarly accommodated. The meter rates are 35 cents per 1,000 gallons; the flat rates, where still levied, are from $7 to $30. In some cases the meters, which were installed under the old regime, are owned by the consumer, who then pays a minimum rate of 50 cents a month; where the city owns the meter the rate is 75 cents a month.

X. H. Goodnough. chief engineer of the state board of health, Massachusetts, writes of the Ludlow water as supplied by the reservoir, has “long been notorious on account of the excessive growths of microscopic organisms that it contains, especially at this season of the year, and if this water is supplied without the (ration, there is no doubt that it is extremely objectionable.”

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