Words of Wisdom.
Below will be found the address of ex-President Benzenburg, delivered at the recent Milwaukee convention:
Gentlemen of the American Water works Association:
Having assembled in thirteenth annual convention, permit me to first extend to each member and guest a warm, personal and heartfelt welcome, with the hope that each of you may in reality feel that he is at home and entitled to anything in sight, and that when you return on your homeward journey, it may be with but kindest remembrances and a feeling grateful that you came.
As this, the year of the World’s Columbian Fair, will undoubtedly prove to have been the year of the greatest general education by the researches and studies it has afforded of the progress and development in every branch of labor, thought and genius within the limit of human conception, so may this meeting prove to have been the most successful in general attendance and in the disseminating of valuable knowledge and information through the papers presented and the discussions which they may have provoked.
Although the field of operation of the members of this association is more circumscribed than that of the other branches of the engineering profession, whose genius in the expansive fields of electricity, navigation, bridging, tunneling, metal, lurgy, construction and destruction, is unlimited by any apparent bounds, yet it embraces that which constitute an absolute necessity to human life, health and happiness, the providing of an ample supply ot pure and wholesome water, the furnishing of which is the first great mission of the water works engineer. and in the providing of which each has his own peculiar difficulties to overcome.
The evidences of the communication of diseases through drinking water, are constantly multiplying, hence the purity of the supply becomes the first great (and in cities and densely populated districts, the most complicated) question, and this purity the water-works man, though he does not always receive the credit, is naturally as jealous in guarding against contamination as he is to preserve his reputation, and the protection of which frequently through circumstances is made as difficult. Location makes the problem of purification often more perplexing than that of collection, storage or distribution, yet the water works engineer or superintendent is expected to overcome every obstacle in providing either, and this expectation must not be disappointed. Vigilance, therefore. must be the constant watchword, and not only every personal effort exerted to preserve purity, but the influence of the combined membership be utilized to produce such State and, if necessary, national legislation as may be requisite to protect the purity of the sources of our water supplies and to encourage researches and experiments for the purpose of supplying additional knowledge and information upon the subject of purification of water and the prevention of the pollution of streams.
The admirable and instructive work of the Massachusetts State Board of Health should be followed and supplemented in every State, and to that end let us unite and arouse public sentiment until that work is made perfect by the authorized researches of such boards throughout the Union.
That this question of furnishing and maintaining a pure and ample water supply is not an insignificant one, it is but necessary for me to mention that the supply of water furnished by water-works in this country alone, exceeds a,500.000,000 of gallons daily, which supply from over 8500 different sources must be maintained with a ratio of constant increase or fully 44,000.000.000 of gallons per year. When it is considered that this supply is furnished through 33,000 miles of pipe main and by water-works plants representing a capital ot over $590,000,000 invested, with a corresponding income and operating expense, the vastness of the interests entrusted to the careful protection and management of the members of this association becomes apparent.
Not only the purity but the adequacy of the supply for fire protection, the pressure, the economy in delivery, perfection in machinery, prevention of waste, cheapness of rates, protection in plumbing, etc., are constant problems for the membership of this association, which require the best efforts of the hydraulic, mechanical and sanitary engineer, of the chemist and scientist, the manager and the superintendent as well as the manufacturer of water-works supplies, and to aid in solving and perfecting of which is one of the missionsof this association. How far we have succeeded and what progress has been made during the past year the discussions and exchange of experience may indicate.
What has been accomplished in mechanical appliances, the innumerable exhibits in the World’s Fair present most positive proof of the astonishing progress made in this country, while models and drawings in almost every building furnishes a store of information relative to the collection, storage and distribution of water supplies in foreign countries.
That the matter of source and purity of supply is a subject of considerable continued study and investigation is again manifested by the titles of many of the papers to be presented at this meeting, and they will undoubtedly mark onward progress toward that laudable end.
This subject also received some considerable attention during the first week in August at the World’s Engineering Congress at Chicago, particularly at the hands of the members of this association who were in attendance, and herein as in all other engineering problems the congress proved a success far beyond the anticipations of those in charge of the same. The engineering field was divided into seven divisions, each in charge of the appropriate organization. The attendance in each section was large, foreign countries especially being well represented. Two hundred and seventy papers were presented, read and discussed, of which 117 were submitted by foreign engineers, who generally took a very active interest in the discussions.
On January 4 the matter of the participation by the American Water-works Association in the Engineering Congress and in the benefits and privileges of the engineering headquarters to be maintained in the city of Chicago and at the World’s Fair was, through a circular, brought to the attention of the members of this association. The responses favorable toward defraying our part of the expenses in maintaining headquarteis, however, were quite limited. But forty-nine of the members responded and (305 were contributed, of which $300 were sent to the treasurer of the engineering societies, and cards, which are good until the close of the headquarters this fall, were issued to all the subscribers. It was hoped that possibly a fair number of our foreign engineer visitors would be able to attend this meeting, but their stay is limited, many are already returning and others have many points of interest yet to visit. An invitation, however, was extended to all who might avail themselves of this opportunity to come and participate in our deliberations.
The apparent experience of the past years in the difficulty of obtaining papers of interest for the convention seems to continue and doubtless will unless.the members recognize that papers, though they may be exceedingly short, relating experiences and especially failures are most acceptable and produce the greatest interest. The experiences of one are not those of another, and although the conditions may be similar the methods employed may often vary greatly, hence the interest they contain. In relating failures sind the manner in which possibly they may have been overcome and the discussions following such papers, much valuable information will be obtained that may prove of greatest benefit to our membership as a warning against similar results.
No one should, therelore, hesitate to relate them, and each should be willing to give forth as well as to absorb information. Questions or papers, however, which by their very introduction may be used and construed into a favorable or unfavorable consideration by this association in cases in dispute or litigation, particularly where it may concern the interest of any member or members of this association, should not be encouraged, for they may some time trespass upon territory or subjects too dangerous for the harmony and general good of this association. With such matters this association has and should have no use nor connection, neither for grievances or disputes. It cannot ever, under any conditions, assume the appearance of championing a case, and in stating these facts,
I believe I am merely defining a well understood position that must not ever be forgotten, not even for courtesy’s sake, for if it is, it will mark the disintegration of the association, which has now well entered upon its mission of usefulness! Let that consideration, therefore, always prevail and infiuence our actions,
While upon the subject of papers, I would suggest that if possible, hereafter all papers to be read, be submitted to the secretary and printed by him fully two months in advance of the convention, so as to afford him an opportunity to distribute them to such of the members as may be induced to prepare a discussion upon them. Many who will not trust themselves to go on record with a statement of facts from memory, would be glad to prepare a discussion at leisure with their data, and facts within reach, while others who might be prevented from attending would be glad and willing to submit a discussion, thus additional interest and value would be given to our papers.
The memorial to Congress prepared by C. Monjeau, the secretary of the committee entrusted with that duty, wassubmitted separately to the several members of that committee last February. ‘I he time for the adjournment of congress being then very near at hand, and considering that perhaps it would be better to take ample time in preparing so important a document, the same has not yet been submitted. A meeting of the committee, however, is to take place here and its report may be submitted to obtain the approval and support of the association.
In conclusion, gentlemen, permit me to congratulate you upon the steady growth of our membership, and the ever increasing attendance and interest at each succeeding convention. It betokens its spreading influence and that its objects and missions are being more generally recognized and understood, and thus let us hope it will ever continue in harmony and unanimity of effort, and by the exchange of thoughts and opinions which it facilitates brush away tli* cobwebs of prejudice and retrogression.