Water Supply of Erie, Pa.

Water Supply of Erie, Pa.

The city of Erie, Pa., derives its supply by pumping from the lake. The pumping station, from which two intake pipes, one having a total length of 975 feet, the other 17,641 feet, are believed to be the longest pieces of submerged 60inch cast-iron and steel intake pipe in existence.

The pumping engines in service are three in number, a Gaskill horizontal compound pumping engine of 5,000,000 gallons daily capacity; a 12,000,000 Worthington horizontal compound high-duty pumping engine and an 8,000,000 gallon engine of the same type. There are also two 2,000,000gallon Cornish bull pumps, obsolete and out of commision. There is a reservoir constructed in 1873 and about two miles distant from the pumping station, the bottom of which is 210 feet above the zero level of the water in the bay, and when the water is carried to a depth of 27 feet it holds 32,952,934 gallons of water. There is also a standpipe, erected in 1868, bus it has not been in use for years. The distribution, at the date of the report, has 183 miles of pipe from 3/4-inch to 20-inches diameter, along which arc 1,760 stop valves and 840 hydrants of the Mathews make. The service connections were 15,209 in number, 421 being metered. The Union Water Meter Company, Worcester, Mass., furnished 212 of the meters in use. the balance being of other brands. Of the total amount of water pumped, 4,483,392.032 gallons, there was furnished, by meter, to manufacturers and other large consumers, 1.159,536,621 gallons. During the year there has been laid in the city 24,283 feet of main pipe and installed 20 additional hydrants, besides replacing a number of the old style 4-inch with modern 6-inch hydrants. The most important event of the year was, however, the completion of the new intake, which brings water from the open lake, in place of from the bay, and the turning in of the lake water on September 16. This work, begun in 1904, has been prosecuted for more than four years against almost overwhelming odds, and the commissioners express their obligation to the contractors, the T. A. Gillespie Company, for their untiring energy in completing the work. Since the installation of the new intake the typhoid fever rate has declined to a very small percentage, which fact alone justifies the abandonment of the bay as the source of supply, and proves conclusively the wisdom of the course pursued by the commissioners. One of the sedimentation basins on the peninsula has been in use for some time, and the second one is nearing completion. The entire cost of all this work has been paid out of the revenues of the department. The total receipts of the department for the year including the balance brought forward from the preceding year, amounted to $307,826, of which $145,879 was received from assessed and $52,133 from metered water rates. The disbursements, for construction maintenance and operation, amounted to $282,633, a balance of $25,192 being thus carried over to the succeeding year. Considering the magnitude and cost of the construction work, this is unquestionably a very excellent showing. One of the features of the water supply equipment in Erie, is the public swiming pool, built on reclaimed land near the pumping station. It is 75×155 feet, cement-lined and gives a depth of water ranging from 18 inches to 6 feet 9 inches. Convenient bath cabinets are provided and competent attendants are on hand, and it is needless to state that during the bathing season, the swimming pool, which is supplied through a 4-inch pipe with lake water, is liberally patronized.

Water Supply of Erie, Pa.

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Water Supply of Erie, Pa.

The pumping plant is located at the foot of Chestnut street, on the bluff skirting the shores of Presq’ Isle bay. Lying in the rear portion of the city, immediately back of the cemetery, is the reservoir, and to this the water is pumped from the plant on the bank of the lake. The reservoir is located on the highest land in the city, and its elevation is sufficiently above all other city points as to secure good pressure in all parts of the city. The water-works is equipped with a stand-pipe 251 feet high, while the bottom of the reservoir is about 200 feet above the water level of Lake Erie. The average depth of water in the reservoir at all times approximates twenty-five feet, constituting an ample reserve supply for use in case of accidents to the pumps at the pumping station. These pumps are of modern construction and pattern, and have a maximum guaranteed capacity of nine million gallons of water a day, and this capacity can, in case of necessity, and by pushing the pumps to their utmost, be increased to the extent of half a million gallons more daily.

But a year or two ago the daily consumption of water in Erie averaged about five million gallons. Now the daily average has increased to nearly seven million gallons, and is still increasing to such an extent that the water commissioners are negotiating for a pumping engine, of the latest make, which will of itself have a daily capacity of twelve million gallons of water. With such a pump in place and working, in addition to the ones now in use, the commissioners believe themselves prepared against any contingency which may occur for many years.

The demand for street pipes for service purposes has kept steadily alongside of the increase in the demand for water. There are now laid in the streets about fifty miles of mains, and there were laid during the year just passed mains to the length of nine miles. This amount of pipe laying in one year is remarkable, and is one of the most emphatic evidences of the prosperity and growth of the city.

The water department is on a strong financial basis, and is not only self-sustaining, but paying off its bonded and floating indebtedness as the amounts become due. The value of the plant, inclusive of buildings and grounds, pumping machinery, reservoir, mains in the streets, and assets of all description, may be placed at a million and a quarter of dollars, while there is an indebtedness outstanding, in the shape of bonds and obligations of all descriptions, of three quarters of a million dollars, leaving to the commissioners a surplus of about half a million of dollars above all liabilities.

The water pressure at the street at the foot of the reservoir may be said to be twenty pounds to the square inch, and this pressure gradually increases as the lake is approached, so that the register shows one hundred pounds per square inch at Second street, which skirts the top of the bluff along the bay front. Few water departments can show so high a pressure, and in case of fires the advantages of high pressure are almost inestimable. The rates for the use of water are lower than those of any other city excepting Chicago, where the same rates obtain in the aggregate. In some respects the rates of Chicago are higher, and in some lower, but in the total both are the same, and the difference in minor points arises from local peculiarities and the cost of rendering special service in Chicago.

During the year there were 8255 families, stores, manufactories, etc., supplied with water, this being an increase of 527 over the year previous, another evidence of the growth and prosperity of the city.

The ample water pressure that is gained by having the reservoir erected on the highest point of land in the city is of immense importance when viewed from the fireman’s standpoint, and more than once has it saved the city from a disastrous conflagration, and this, in connection with other local peculiarities, has caused insurance companies to accord an extremely low rate of insurance on risks in this city. Up to the present year the city has been singularly free from great fires, owing in part to the superior construction of the shops and buildings, the ample water supply, and the efficiency of the fire department.