WATER STEALING EIGHTEEN HUNDRED YEARS AGO.
Frontinus, an ancient Roman military man and official, well known as the subduer of the Cymri and pacifier (according to the methods of Rome) of Wales in general, was made water commissioner at Rome eighteen hundred and six years ago, and served for about seven years in that capacity under the emperors Nerva and Trojan. As today the Croton aqueduct and New York’s water supply are being studied by Water Commissioner Monroe, so in A. D. 97 Water Commissioner Frontinus studied the aqueduct system of the Eternal City and found that forty per cent, of the water was wasted. There was systematic fraud all through the department. Proprietors of estates outside the city along the line of the aqueducts had tapped them by means of pipes buried under the ground. Within the city the mains were freely tapped by unscrupulous consumers, who wanted water without payment. It has been estimated that the water supply of ancient Rome, with its millions of people, was 400,000,000 gallons a day, so that about 100,000,000 gallons were stolen. Then, too, the workmen who were employed by the city to care for the aqueducts were found to be in the service of private citizens, and were thus drawing double pay. Frontinus brought about a reform for a while. Then he died, and things drifted hack to where he found them.