Waterworks Extension at New Orleans.
“I have been unable to think of any plan,” said General Superintendent Earl of the Sewerage and water board of New Orleans, La., “to determine what waterworks extensions should be made with the small amount of funds available for that purpose. Some cities make extensions to the waterworks upon their cost being advanced, and reimburse those who have paid for the extensions out of the water rate collections made from those who use water therefrom. This would probably not be legal, as the New Orleans law stands, and as the New Orleans rates are fixed at that figure which barely meets the expense of the operation and maintenance of the plant, it should involve a very slow return, even in well built residence areas. If the line of my recommendation should be followed, it is possible that a lower percentage of revenue from the sale of water than 6 per cent, will have to be adopted as the limit. An ordinary block of 350 feet of W inch pipe, which costs $350, would require $21 a year revenue to earn 6 per cent, with the present minimum rates. Assuming that each house used only enough water to be within the minimum rate, which is usually true, it would make the revenue from the sale of water only $1 per house, thus requiring five houses, each taking a separate connection, to make $20 per year revenue, and since even $1 per year from the sale of water is in excess of the water actually used in many cases, and a lower minimum rate will probably have to be made for small houses with few occupants, even this estimated revenue is probably an over estimate in many cases. With the present tendency to build a house or two and then skip a square and build another house, it is evident that the revenue to he derived from extensions in sparsely built areas is too small usually to really warrant even single block extensions. One way to meet this condition would be to charge higher rates for water on small extensions and devote the excess charge to paying for the extensions; but, then, the legality of such a plan is doubtful. Another possible way for the board to handle the matter would be to advance a part of the cost of extensions, depending upon the rate of income. Some scheme along this line, it seems, might he worked out. No interest should be allowed in such cases, of course, which would about balance the relatively larger cost of maintenance as compared with the revenue on such lines. The injustice of such a plan would be, in fact, that the logical extensions close in and yielding entirely satisfactory revenue, which could otherwise be made and paid for as required, would have their full payment deferred by the mass of relatively illogical extensions which would each draw a share of the available fund. Thus if there were $500,000 of extensions yielding an average of 1 per cent., and $50,000 worth that yielded 10 per cent, and only $10,000 to divide between them in a given year, the extensions which earned 10 per cent, would only get half, whereas they are logically entitled to the whole, since they are paying a better revenue than the average, which is derived from the whole distri bution system.”