Water Service and Water Rates
There is no branch of the municipal service that will receive greater condemnation in case of failure to function adequately or properly than the water works. This is perhaps even more a fact when this service is in the hands of a privately owned company. The slightest tendency of the water to be off-color or off-taste or otherwise lacking in quality or quantity will raise a storm of protest from the consumers. And yet. unfair as it is, these same consumers, at the first intimation of an advance in rates, will raise the echoes in their loud protestation against such a course.
This tendency may, to a certain extent, be the fault of the utility. The department or company may have in its employ, especially among those who deal directly with the consumers, from the superintendent down to the clerks and meter readers, individuals who are lacking in tact and who, in their dealing with the consumers may be short, impatient or even insulting in their manner. If this be the case, the quicker this condition is remedied, the better it will be for all concerned. Otherwise the utility has only itself to blame for the consequences.
Again, in the case of the raising of rates, or of water troubles that are not easy to remedy quickly, as for instance, discoloration or bad taste from algae, sinura, etc., the fault may lie with the department or company in not properly presenting its case to the public. Perfect frankness, a laying of its cards upon the table, a painstaking and patient presentation of its case by word of mouth, by circularization and through the medium of the daily press, even resorting to paid advertising, if necessary, are great helps in producing a favorable public sentiment.
The American public is, as a general thing, fair in its judgments when the case is properly presented to it. In nearly every instance injustice on its part is the result of improper or imperfect understanding. So that it is plain that frankness and courtesy are the keys which unlock the door to its good-will.
A rather unusual and thrilling service was that which some of the members of the New York City fire department were called upon to perform a short time ago. The fire was in a painter’s scaffold near the top of the tower and suspended from one of the cables of the Manhattan Bridge, some 450 feet above the street level. The bridge is of the suspension type, and the cables were being painted. The nearest water was from a standpipe on the vehicular roadway, 150 feet below the fire, so the men were compelled to climb the network of wires, spiderlike, and chop away the Durning platform with axes. This had to be done with one hand, while they clung for safety to the wires with the other. The fire was extinguished without any damage to the bridge.
The termination of the impossible situation that has obtained recently in the fire department of Chicago, Ill., and the final appointment of a head to succeed the veteran Chiet O’Connor, is a move in the right direction. The condition which has prevailed in the fire forces of that city for some time has spoken for demoralization and discord. It is to be hoped that this period is now passed and that the department will now work together as a unit.