WATER PROBLEMS OF STATE INSTITUTIONS
With Inmates of from One to Four Thousand, Institutions Equivalent to Small Towns—Hard to Locate Waste—Few Provided with Meters
BEFORE taking up some of the engineering phases of the problem of providing a suitable water supply for our various State institutions I will give you a brief outline of the administrative organization of the State Government, as now constituted under the Civil Administrative Code. This will give you a better idea of the nature of the work that is referred to us and the organization available for solving the problem. I call your attention to the similarity of the plan of organization provided for in the Civil Administrative Code, as compared with a large manufacturing industry.
The head of our State government is, of course, the governor. Under him are the nine department heads known as directors, each in charge of one department. They are:
Director of Finance.
Director of Public Works and Buildings.
Director of Public Welfare.
Director of Registration and Education.
Director of Agriculture.
Director of Public Health.
Director of Labor.
Director of Mines and Minerals.
Director of Trade and Commerce.
Each of these departments is further subdivided into divisions, the number depending on the number of subdivisions most convenient for handling the business of the department. Thus, for example, our department, that of Public Works and Buildings, has seven divisions, as follows:
Division of Highways.
Division of Waterways.
Division of Printing.
Division of Parks.
Division of Purchases and Supplies.
Division of Supervising Architect.
Division of Supervising Engineer.
The directors and heads of divisions are appointed by the governor. Their employees are all under civil service.
Compared to Large Manufacturing Industry
In our comparison with a large manufacturing industry, we then have the governor, comparable to the president and general manager; the directors, to the department heads of the business, and the division heads to the superintendents of the various departments. Most of you, no doubt, will remember when the business of the State was split up among a large number of boards and commissions, each acting independently of the others. F.ach could, and often did, do its own purchasing, hire its own attorneys, engineers, architects and other professional advisors, independent of the other board and commissions. Can you imagine a large manufacturing industry permitting each department head to have his own purchasing agent, his own lawyer, engineer and architect and to work independently of all the other departments? Certainly not. The State no longer does business under that plan either. As I have stated before, we are now operating just like a large manufacturing industry. If a department or division head needs supplies, a requisition is sent through the regular channels and lands in one of the four following places:
*Excerpt from a paper read before the Illinois Section, American Water Works Association, at the annual meeting at Urbana, Ill.
If it involves printing, it goes to the superintendent of printing. If it involves engineering construction, it goes to the supervising engineer.
If it involves architectural construction, it goes to the supervising architect.
If it involves general supplies, it goes to the division of purchases and supplies.
Systematic Allotment of the Work
These divisions make the purchases, but they in turn may call upon any other division or department for assistance and advice.
For example, if the department pf public welfare is in the market for blooded cattle for its farms, the division of purchases and supplies will call upon the division of animal industry of the department of agriculture for assistance in making the purchase. If the division of purchase and supplies wants data pertaining to coal, it calls upon the department of mines and minerals. If any department or division needs assistance in road construction, it calls upon the division of highways. If any department or division needs help in matters pertaining to heat, light, power, water, sewers, or similar matters, they call on us and we in turn may call upon the division of water survey or the department of health to work with us on the problem. The engineering division provides means of supplying the water, but the division of water survey or the division of sanitation passes on the quality of the water.
Briefly summarized then, the plan is to have each division specialize in some one branch of the State business and then have all matters relating to that branch referred to that division.
How the Plan Works Out
Let us see now how this plan works out in the management of our State institutions. The welfare department has supervision over:
12 hospitals for insane and feeble minded.
2 correction schools.
3 schools or homes for deaf and blind.
3homes for soldiers and sailors, soldiers’ orphans and soldiers’ widows.
The department of registration and education operates five normal schools. The University of Illinois is not included in this, as it does not come under the Civil Administrative Code.
In the operation of the above institutions, the departments of public welfare and of registration and education occupy essentially the position of tenant, while the department of public works and buildings occupies the position of landlord. The landlord in this case, however, furnishes not only the buildings, but also all supplies, including food, clothing, equipment, heat, light and water. Under this plan of organization, it follows that the details pertaining to supply of heat, light and water and similar service are under the supervising engineer.
Under the plan of organization, and especially as it is now carried out. the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the mechanical equipment is treated strictly as an engineering problem and worked out from an engineering standpoint, except, of course, tor the one drawback which seems to exist everywhere—lack of funds.
Water Supply Problem Similar to Small Town
Most institutions are located outside of the corporate limits of cities so that, in general, they must provide their own source of water supply. We have in these institutions examples of practically every source of supply, including rivers, natural ponds, deep wells and shallow wells and even springs. One institution, the Southern Illinois Penitentiary at Chester, has three entirely separate sources of supply: the Mississippi River, an artificial lake in the hills back of the institution, and a large spring. One pumping equipment likewise represents practically every type of pumping equipment used in plants of similar size.
When you consider that the population of most of the institutions operated by the welfare department is from 1,000 to 4,000 and that these people live within the institution, year in and year out, you will realize that the problem of water supply for such an institution is very similar to the problem of the water supply of a small town, except that our system covers a smaller area.
Few Institutions Supplied with Meters
Unfortunately, few institutions are supplied with meters, and in order to arrive at even an estimate of the water consumption per capita we had to use such data as was available. Nevertheless, using the best data available and supplementing this with tests from time to time, we found that the water consumption per capita for the welfare institution varied from about 70 to 350 gallons per capita per day. You need hardly be told that the 70-gallon per capita institution was on a meter basis, while the institutions with a larger consumption, as a rule, pumped their own supply. I have been told at some of these institutions which pump their own supply, that “our water costs us nothing, as we pump it from our own wells.” As a matter of fact, this statement is not quite as foolish as it sounds to an engineer, and for this reason: At most of our institutions the principal load on the boiler plant is the heating load, and for about seven or eight months in the year there is no exhaust steam wasted. For all practical purposes then, the only cost of the water during the seven or eight months of neating season is the wear and tear on the machinery. You must keep in mind also that at most all of these institutions much of the common labor around the power plant is inmate labor.
However, the wasteful habits acquired during the seven or eight months of the heating season are continued during the remainder of the year, and then it costs coal. There is another angle of the problem to consider: As the institution grows its pumping capacity must be increased or its per capita consumption reduced. If reasonable economy is practiced in the use of water the demand can often be reduced to a point where the same pumping equipment, which supplied them in the past will be ample for the enlarged institution.
Waste of Water Hard to Locate
If the waste of water were permitted to continue it would mean the purchase and installation of additional pumping capacity in order to supply this waste. Here, then, the waste of water requires an additional outlay of money to permit the waste to continue.
One of the most interesting cases of water waste, and perhaps one of the most difficult to locate and stop, was at the Pontiac State Reformatory. All of the water for the power house, the laundry and the domestic hot water supply was pumped from a spring-fed lake on the institution grounds. Water for all other purposes was purchased from the local utility company. No records were available of the amount of water pumped from the institution lake, but the water furnished by the local utility company was metered. I was surprised to find that this part of the institution had a consumption which reached a maximum of 220 gallons per capita per day. That is to say, this institution used 220 gallons per capita per day, exclusive of the water used in the power house, the laundry and the domestic hot water system. We inspected the plumbing and found it in apparent good condition; we tested the meter and found it accurate within ordinary commercial limits; we tested for leakage of underground mains and were surprised to find this leakage was so small as to be practically negligible, in spite of the fact that much of the underground piping was wrought iron and steel pipe, which had been installed for years.
Trouble Found in Cell Houses
We finally divided the institution into sections, as far as the arrangement of mains would allow, put a meter on each section and read these meters, as well as the meter on the service main, hourly for twenty-four hours. That solved the problem. We found the cell houses to be the trouble-makers. Each cell has a lavatory with a single self-closing faucet and a closet, flushed by means ol a self-closing cock. One of the cell houses showed a per capita consumption of 140 gallons per day, while the other showed a per capita consumption of 72 gallons per day. Carrying our investigation further, we found that the inmates had learned that by turning the selfclosing faucet wide open, they could balance it in this position, and by a little rough usage, could burr the top of the tooth or bevel, giving the pin a better surface to rest upon and thus making it all the easier to balance in this position.
On arising in the morning, all the inmates apparently washed in running water, for during the first hour after rising, 434 inmates in the north cell house used 5,500 gallons of water, or 12.6 gallons per inmates per hour.
In the south cell house, 543 inmates used 3,700 gallons, or slightly less than 7 gallons per inmate per hour. In this connection, it is of interest to note that the north cell house, which housed the more unruly boys, used 12.6 gallons per capita per hour, while the other cell house, occupied by the better behaved boys, used but 7 gallons per capita per hour. We also found that the all-night consumption ran rather high, indicating that a number of the boys were letting their faucets run wide open, presumably to have cold drinking water should they awake in the night and want a cold drink.
We worked out a modified design for their self closing Cocks, which consists essentially ol a stop so arranged that the faucet, or cock, cannot be opened into the wideopen position. We also replaced the bar handle with a round, smooth disc, having a knurled edge. These changes are now being made, and I am curious to see what plan the inmates will work out to beat us at that game.
Complete New Pumping Station, But No Water
At the Watertown State Hospital we are just completing a pumping station which promises to solve the water problem there for some time to come. When we took charge, a year and a half ago, this institution had a new pumping station, built over a reservoir or basin, with a single small well, opening into the bottom of the basin. It was quite complete, except that there was practically no water to pump. The small well was useful only as a test well, giving us a clue as to the depth at which water was obtainable, the height to which the water would rise and the quality of the water.
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Water Problems of State Institutions
(Continued from page 1229)
Having obtained this data we drilled two wells, one on each side of the pump house. Well No. 1 is 275 feet deep, while in the case of well No. 2 we had to go down to a depth of 325 feet to get the same flow and kind of water. It is interesting to note that in drilling these two wells, not over 65 to 70 feet apart, we encountered different strata all the way down. In the case of well No. 2, we got practically the same water at a depth of 325 feet that we got in well No. 1 at a depth of 275 feet, only that the flow was about 75 g.p.m less. As we were in solid rock at that point, I decided to dynamite the well. We exploded 60 pounds of 40 per cent, dynamite at the bottom of the well, and succeeded in increasing the flow to just a trifle more than the flow of well No. 1. The wells are now being connected to the pumps and we expect to have the station in operation within the next two or three weeks.
Bad Situation at Jacksonville
Most of you know something of the water situation at Jacksonville. It affects us directly, because we have three institutions located in that city, all depending on the city for their water supply. For years the water service there has been subject to interruptions and was extremely unreliable. A year ago we were threatened with a complete shut-down of the water supply and, in fact, arrangements were under way to temporarily close the institution and transfer the inmates to other institutions, when the snow melted and relieved the situation. During that time, conditions had become so bad that it was necessary to shut the water off the buildings during certain hours in the day, as there was not enough water to keep the plumbing in operation 24 hours per day. Snow was dumped into the institution reservoir and, in some instances, snow was brought into the buildings, melted in the bathtubs and the water used for mopping up the floors.
During this time, an insane hospital, a school for blind children and a school for deaf children were practically without fire protection. We took every precaution, but you can imagine the relief we all felt when the water service was resumed.
New Wells to be Drilled
At several of our institutions we are contemplating drilling wells during the coming summer, provided, of course, an appropriation is made for that purpose. Unfortunately, this source of water supply is a good deal of a gamble, both as to quality and quantity, to say nothing of the probable depth to which a well must be drilled. A good well is such a simple solution of the problem, however, that when we receive any encouragement from the division of water survey, I am inclined to try that method first on the theory that even if it turns a failure, there is some justification in making the expenditure, in order to definitely settle the question whether this plan is feasible in that location. If a complete log of the well is preserved at the institution and also in the office of the supervising engineer our successors will have valuable data which we did not have, when they in turn are called upon to make further extensions.
Fire Fighting Equipment
A discussion of our water supply problem would not be complete without a reference to the fire fighting equipment of our institutions. I am frank to say that the fire fighting equipment of our institutions is totally inadequate. We are, however, asking for additional appropriations and, in the meantime, will try to do the best we can with the facilities at hand.
Most of the institutions have an elevated tank for their daily supply. This is kept well filled and is the first “line of defense.” When a fire is reported the fire whistle is blown, the fire pump started and the tank then shut off, giving us direct fire pressure on the mains. In some instances there are separate fire mains, but usually fire pressure has to be put on the entire system.
Every institution makes some attempt at an organized fire department, and some of them, I am pleased to say, are quite efficient. We recently had midnight fire at one of our institutions, in which, within five minutes after the first alarm was telephoned to the night operator, the fire pumps were in full operation and three lines of hose were playing on the fire. Except in one instance,, a year ago, when a water main laid too near the surface had frozen and was useless, our fire fighting equipment and organization had handled every alarm promptly and effectively.
Fire fighting is always serious business, and in an institution which houses several thousand insane people, who are totally incapable of protecting themselves and are, moreover, often behind locked doors, the question of fire protection and of fire fighting are doubly important. When you take away a person’s liberty and lock them up—whether they are sane or insane—you owe it to them to protect them against fire with every means at your disposal. While we are doing this to a limited extent now, I hope that before long our facilities will be greatly improved and our fire fighting equipment will compare favorably with the best equipment of our cities.