WATER SUPPLY OF NEW YORK.
In a letter written to Mayor Low on the subject of the water supply of New York, Commissioner R. G. Monroe sets forth the fact that, with the completion of the new Croton dam, the Jerome Park reservoir, and one or more additional reservoirs on the Croton watershed, the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx will enjoy a daily supply of 400,000,000 gallons, instead of the present allowance of 300,000,000. He adds, however, that by that time these two boroughs will have so greatly increased in extent and population as to find the former quantity barely enough to supply the actual wants. Their present population is 2,000,000. which is supplied at the rate of 150 gallons per capita. The borough of Brooklyn, also, has today a population of 1,200,000, which consumes too,000,000 gallons, or eighty-eight gallons per capita, per day—a supply, which, under existing conditions, can be increased only by 15,000,000 gallons per day. If, therefore, the borough increases in extent and population (as is the case every year), it is clear that, even with the addition of the 15,000,000 gallons, it will be utterly impossible to keep up the present per capita allowance. The same conditions can be predicated of Queens, in which borough the private companies which supply its wants have just about reached their limit—a limit apparently more than reached in the borough of Richmond. The commissioner of water supply has. therefore, come to the conclusion (for so long and apparently even still resisted by the Citizens’ Union) that it is high time to determine on some additional source of supply and to begin the actual construction of new waterworks without delay. “This (he points out) has already been appreciated, and foundation has been laid. Much available data are, therefore, at hand.” The commissioner, accordingly, urges the mayor that, since the latter expects the water department to submit specific recommendations and completed plans for the action of the board of estimate and apportionment looking towards the settlement of this question, he should appoint a commission of three expert engineers, not connected with the city government, and. therefore, able to act independently, to make a full and exhaustive investigation of the problem from every point of view, and to report on what sources of water supply are most available and on the cost of utilising them. So far as he goes, Commissioner Monroe is iti the right of it. A new source of supply must be determined upon at once, and the actual construction of waterworks begun without delay, if within a very few’ years this city, with such tremendous interests at stake, is not to Miffer from a water famine. But, even according to the commissioner’s own figures, a scarcity of water mav occur any day, certainly within the period he has set down, short of which he seems to think there is no risk of such conditions arising. While, therefore, there should he no delay in providing for a more abundant supply in the future, is it not incumbent upon him to see to it. not only that such a supply, when it is obtained, is not wasted (as it will he, if the present lax conditions of inspection are allowed to prevail), but, also, that the existing preventable waste he put a stop to? Commissioner Monroe apparently coincides with the Citizens’ Union in pooh-poohing the compulsory meterage of water throughout the citya course which would avoid both now and in the future at least two-thirds of the present wastage, and thereby go a long way towards husbanding the existing supply, to say nothing of its being fairer to the consumer and more economical to the taxpayer. He lightly waves aside such a remedy as that and virtually cries down the adoption of the proper means for the prevention of waste, which, with its consequent saving of water (he insists) “cannot, in the judgment of this (the water) department, be made a substitute for extension of source of supply, but (he points out. if somewhat grudgingly) there will be a period of greater or less duration when a fixed and limited supply will be required to meet the demands of a rapidly increasing body of consumers. This emergency is unavoidable, and for this reason prevention of waste is a phase of the problem of imminent importance.” We hold that it was more than a mere “phase of the problem”; it is a necessary part of it, and one which, in justice to individual consumers and the great taxpaying community at large, which would be so signally benefited by the universal meterage of water throughout the city, should he at once adopted and maintained in perpetuity.