WATER WORKS IMPROVEMENTS IN WILMINGTON.
The Board of Water Commissioners of Wilmington, Del., has addressed a communication to the president and members of the city council in which the Commission states it unanimously agrees with a recommendation made by George W. Fuller, C. E., that it is desirable that the cityown the entire rights at the city dam and recommends that the rights to the stream flow nowowned by the Lea Milling Company (one-half) be purchased by the city if they can be obtained at a reasonable figure. The communication was in reply to one from the city council in reference to proposed improvements to the water plant in which the council asked: “Is the pollution and diversion of water from the Brandywine Creek by the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company a violation of law?” and the answer to this question, the Commission thinks, should be obtained by the city’s legal representatives. The Board relates that the city solicitor had been asked for his opinion but had received no formal reply. The city council had also asked a second question: “If the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company were restrained from polluting the water taken from the Brandywine Creek, and if the five or seven million gallons of water daily polluted and diverted through the sewer into Lea’s race were to flow into the city dam, would there be any necessity for years to come to acquire the Lea Milling Company’s water rights or any other rights of like nature?” to which the Board of Water Commissioners answ-ers in part as follows: “To this we would answer that there have been in the past some few instances after continued drought when the city needed more stream flow than it received. The commission is of the opinion that at no time does the flowavailable for city pumpage equal one-half of the total flow at the city dam. This arises from the present construction of the head gates, the natural channel of the stream, and the diversion into the Lea race of most of the waste water from the Joseph Bancroft & Sons Company and the Jessup & Moore paper mills. The natural flow of the stream is further affected by ponding of the water by upper riparian proprietors. The present commission, therefore, unanimously agrees with Mr. Fuller’s opinion that it is desirable for the city to own the entire rights at the city dam, which would somewhat clarify the present situation. In explanation of the item of $150,000, which is our estimate of the value of these water rights, we would remind you that several years ago the city could have purchased the entire property of the Lea Milling Company—-so we have been informed—for $200,000. The total assessment of the Lea Milling Company is $04,154. This includes everything except the water rights, which have never been assessed and upon which no tax has ever been levied. Deducting the assessment of the real estate from the suggested purchase price, the value of the water rights would be $135,840. The Water Commission needs no property of the Lea Milling Company except for water rights. The water rights for power purposes, in our opinion, are no more valuable now than they were then, therefore, we considered that the figure named by us was a liberal allowance. We therefore indorse the project to purchase the additional water rights if they can he obtained at a reasonable figure, fair alike to the city and to the Lea Milling Company, hut we would strongly emphasize that the possible illegal diversion of water above the city dam, or the purchase of additional rights to the stream flow should not delay the improvements to the water system, as outlined so fully and ably in Mr. Fuller’s report. No matter how the two questions propounded to us are answered, the fact remains that the plant additions should be undertaken at once and pushed through as rapidly as possible to completion, and the other matters to which you call our attention should be taken up in due course by the proper authorities.