American Society of Civil Engineers.

Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (Volume 81) online

. (page 65 of 167)
Online LibraryAmerican Society of Civil EngineersTransactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (Volume 81) → online text (page 65 of 167)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


of the Ohio River, ranging from about 5 to 60 ft., from minimum to
maximum, in a cycle of a few months.

During the high stages, the velocity of the flow is so great as to
scour away the silt deposits on the surface of the sand bed. To main-
tain quality and quantity of output at times of low river stages, when
there is not a scouring velocity for the removal of surface deposits,
Mr. Gray has endorsed, and there has actually been built at Parkers-
burg, a project with some of the earmarks of a mechanical filter. It
has a pipe system scattered over the bottom of 1§ acres of sand resting
on gravel of one grade, and, at intervals, it is proposed to back-flush
one-fifth of that area, or J acre; and on that J acre, it is proposed to
use about 40 000 gal. during an interval of 15 or 20 min. to remove
these clogging materials.

From the standpoint of hydraulics, the speaker is a little disap-
pointed that we have not obtained from Mr. Gray or his assistant, Mr.



798 discussion: water supply of parkersbueg, w. va.

Mr. Leland, some of the details with respect to that proposition. It brings
^^' up several queries : In the first place, as regards cleaning mechanical
filters, the fundamentals are, in a rough way, that the summation
of exit area of the orifices through which filtered water has to pass
should be less than the area of the distributing pipe. Otherwise, the
proper pressure is not obtained to force water through every orifice
throughout that area, so as to lift and wash the sand thoroughly, say,
with a vertical rise of wash-water of from 8 to 12 in. per min. At
Parkersburg, the sand is not cleaned so uniformly, but the facts as to
distribution of wash-water are not made plain.

Of course, it must be recognized that this is not a proposition
directly comparable with a mechanical filter, where wash-water is sent
at high velocity through a strainer system under every square foot of
filter bed in order to give a thorough cleaning. This Smith system
seems to be one of those arrangements where back-flushing is used
simply to lift the clogging material sufficiently so that whatever flow
there may be in the river may be sufficient to move that material
beyond this area.

Slow sand filters are back-filled, of course, very slowly, in order to
remove air, and Kirkwood's book on filtration states that, more than
50 years ago, such a filter at Tours, France, was cleaned by back-
flushing. However, it is stated by Kirkwood* that the head of water
was insufficient and the process was not successful.

To build this filtration system of 1| acres at Parkersburg has cost
$80 000. That is a somewhat larger sum than was spent at Lawrence,
Mass., for building in 1893 an open filtration plant extending over 2i
acres. The speaker does not recall what Mr. Fuertes and he reported
with respect to the cost of mechanical filters at Parkersburg, but is
inclined to think that it was markedly less than that of the Smith
system.

Speaking about costs, mention should be made of one point that
is set forth on page 752 of the paper, where it is stated:

"It is gratifying to note that the new pumping equipment has
effected an economy sufficient to pay the capital charges on the bond
issue required by the new plant."

As a citizen of Parkersburg and a member of the Water Board,
Mr. Hall is entitled to a great deal of commendation if he is able to
establish a new and reliable plant without any added cost to the tax-
payers; and the low operating expense of the Smith system is certainly
one of its strongest points.

This Smith system, which is understood to be patented, has not
been exploited at many other places. At Henderson, Ky., it was
reported on by Philip Burgess, M. Am. Soc. C. E., and found to have

• Pd. 125-126.



DISCUSSION : WATER SUPPLY OF PARKERSBURG, W. VA. 799

some local merit. George A. Johnson, M. Am. Soc. C. E., and his Mr.
associates at Wheeling, W. Va., reported on it at great length, with
unfavorable conclusions.

It is interesting that, within the past 6 months, Mr. Leland has
overhauled the sand and gravel, in connection with back-flushing, rather
early in the period of drought in 1916.

With regard to quality, the water furnished by the Smith system
is generally of good appearance. In point of hardness, it does not vary
markedly from that of the Ohio River. In that respect, it compares
with what would be produced by a filter plant of any kind.

With regard to the bacteriological aspect of the water, it is doubtful
whether it is of as good a quality as would be afforded by any of the
so-called standard modern filter systems or as good a water as the
people of Parkersburg ought to obtain. It is rather doubtful whether
this water supply is able to comply with the standards of the United
States Government, as set forth by the United States Public Health
Service, a branch of the Treasury Department, viz., not more than
2 B. coli per 100 cu. cm.

That Department has provided certain tests for intestinal bacteria
in waters supplied to Interstate carriers. Looking over the analyses
on page 786, it is doubtful whether the City of Parkersburg could sell
water to the railroads which pass through it and not get into trouble,
if there should be a thorough analytical study of the water.

In making that comment, it is only fair to state that this is a
wonderfully transitional age, in point of water quality. Many cities
are supplying water of the highest type in point of quality, either by
filtration or by the elimination of sources of pollution. By this means
the typhoid death rates of American cities have been reduced to a
point which seemed almost inconceivable 10 or even 5 years ago. We
have death rates to-day, in cities supplied with filtered surface water,
which are as low as those found in European cities, in Holland, and in
certain Rhenish districts, where they have pure water from under-
ground sources.

There is, however, a very anomalous situation prevailing in America
to-day, in that in some of the surface water supplies there seem to
be bacteria of many different kinds, which are classed by laboratory
men as members of the B. coli group. Some of them are said to be
the sour milk bacteria — whatever that may be. Others are said to be
bacteria which grow on grain and are found in soils.

In certain districts, where there is a purely rural population, with
here and there a scattered village, it is said that there are water sup-
plies which are so polluted, according to laboratory evidence, that they
could not reasonably meet the Government standards, even after
filtration.



800 discussion: water supply of parkebsburg, w. va.

Mr. In relation to this matter, it may be stated that there will be pub-

^ ^^' lished within the next few weeks a new edition of the so-called
"Standard Methods of Water Analysis" (American Public Health
Association), the purpose of which is to separate some of these forms
of bacteria from the so-called Bacillus coli. Just where it will lead
is not known, but the situation to-day, in point of quality of water
supply for American cities, is a very anomalous one. It is not readily
known whether any given city is living up to the legal requirements
of the Federal Government; and, if it is not, it is not known whether
the apparent fault is genuinely attributable to sewage pollution,
whether it is due to laboratory caprices in reference to the sour milk
bacteria, whether it is due to harmless bacteria that grow on grain,
or whether it is the fault of the handling of water by filtration, or
otherwise.

It is hoped that the next year or so will see a sharp turn in the
road, a change from the uncertainty of the past to a definiteness of
assignment between cause and effect, so that there surely will continue
the improvement in quality which is one of the striking features of
the past generation in the point of municipal water supply.

The speaker is glad that the author has presented this paper. It
sets forth some simple truths which could be considered to advantage
by all who are interested in the subject. He has not been very prolific
in setting out the specific details of the Smith system, and it is to be
hoped that more data may be obtained later.

Mr. Potter's remarks bring up a question that is very active in the
interpretation of the treaty passed in 1912 between the United States
and Great Britain, with respect to controlling the pollution of
boundary waters. There has been under discussion now for about 3
or 4 years the wording of a procedure to stipulate plainly what shall be
the quality of the boundary waters, so that life or property on one side
of the boundary shall not be aflFected prejudicially by those who dis-
charge sewage into these waters on the other side. After the many
efforts made by the Canadian and United States Governments to solve
that question, it would be better to wait until we get further evidence
from those who are at present studying it.

With regard to Mr. Potter's remarks on the so-called intestinal
bacteria, some men want to exploit water analyses very quickly in
laboratories, where the results are to be used by the men responsible
for the management of a filter plant, or by those who direct the
endeavors of a large number of inspectors on a water-shed. Presump-
tive tests are not well thought of by those who desire to form an
opinion on the intrinsic merit of the sanitary quality of water, and
especially in the comparison of different waters. For the past 10 or
20 years there have been growing up two factions with respect to



DISCUSSIOX: WATER SUPPLY OF PARKERSBURG, W. VA. 801

applying laboratory methods to the control of water supplies. The Mr.
men in one set want to get results in 24 hours. They have had their
way for the last 5 or 10 years. They have brought into municipal
water reports, during the last few years, a set of results which have
helped the filter operator, but, to the men who have given years in
attempting to control water pollution, these results are open to
grave suspicion and are exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, of
interpretation.

On considering these figures in type in a municipal report, without
any personal knowledge of the environment to which these data apply,
trouble ensues. Some of these bacteria, classed as B. coli, innocent as
they may be, may multiply and breed in water under certain tem-
peratures. This certainly adds to the complications. There ought to
be a marked change with respect to laboratory data for the sanitary
control of the quality of water supplies in America. Engineers must
recognize two distinct phases, one, the quick result to help the filter
operators and the men who direct inspectors. When it is desired to
get a measure of sanitary quality, however, it is necessary to go deeper
and further, and to take 8 or 9 days for analysis, something which the
filter operator will not tolerate. On the proposition of telling whether
or not a water will measure up to prescribed sanitary requirements, it
seems highly important to make every effort to separate fecal from non-
fecal bacteria in the laboratory.

Nicholas S. Hill, Jr.,* M. Am. Soc. C. E. — Mr. John W. Hill and Mr.
Mr. Fuller have covered this paper so thoroughly that it leaves very '^ jr.
little to be said in the way of discussion. The speaker certainly agrees
with both of them in their criticism of the Parkersburg system.

The situation in Parkersburg recalls a condition that so often exists.
and the futility of expert reports under certain conditions, that is, the
natural tendency of people to adopt a so-called pure underground water
supply, with all its uncertainties as to quantity, rather than the accept-
ance of a surface water supply of known abundance, treated with
modern processes which have a known efficiency.

The use of underground waters is not without dangers; and, with-
out discussing this paper in detail, it might be well to call attention to
a situation which sometimes arises where underground water supplies
are developed. The speaker alludes more particularly to the East
Orange water supply in New Jersey, and will refer to the case of
Harper versus the Mountain Water Company. This case was tried
at Somerville, N. J., before the Hon. William J. Magie, then Chief
Justice.f The following is a passage from the Judge's charge :

* New York City.

t A convenient summary of this case, by Vice-Chancellor Emery, may be found
in 20 Dickinson, p. 479.



803 discussion: water supply of parkersburg, w. va.

Mr. "I think I should first give you what the law defines as the rights

^' j'r^^"' ^^ parties respecting water running in streams. Any one owning on
the banks of a stream of running water is entitled by law to have the
waters of the stream come down to him in their natural flow, uncon-
taminated, unreduced, and unobstructed, except so far as Nature
affects them. Persons owning above the line of the person who has
these rights have also rights in the water passing them, and their
right is to have the water pass them and go down to those below unaf-
fected by obstruction from below or unaffected by obstruction or
abstraction from above; each of these parties has a right to the use
of the water, which is a reasonable use of the water as it passes. Water
may be thus used for irrigation, for the watering of cattle, for the
use of water around buildings and houses, for the use of water to
produce power and thereby run mills or whatever else power may be
applied to. I say the riparian owner, that is, the owner on the bank
of the stream, has the right, the right to water coming down from
above unobstructed, unpolluted, and in its natural flow."

The same rule has been applied to a clear case of a subterranean
stream, and apparently no distinction is drawn, whether the under-
ground water is regarded as i)ercolating water or water of a well-
defined subterranean stream.

Vice-Chancellor Magie proceeded to say that though a person or
company might strike underground streams and abstract underground
water which "might" come to the surface, and might carry this per-
colating water off and sell it, yet, if by their works they abstracted
the water or reduced the level of springs or streams which "had" come
to the surface, it was an actionable wrong. The words "might" and
"had" in this case are emphatic. The jury was directed that, if it was
shown by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant had ab-
stracted an appreciable quantity of water which "had" come to the
surface in a pond, spring, or stream, so as to diminish the flow, and
had done this either by pumping from the stream or from a well, or
by both, then the plaintiffs were entitled to damages.

Later, there has been the decision in the case of Frank Meeker
versus the Mayor and City Council of East Orange. The City of
East Orange recently established an underground water supply, deriv-
'ing its water through wells about 150 ft. deep. The plaintiff stated
that, before and at the time of the establishment of wells, he owned
certain property and lands in Millburn and Livingston, having an
area of about 100 acres, that by reason thereof he was entitled to the
benefit and advantage of a certain spring and stream running and
flowing into and through those lands, and that the defendants, by
Artesian wells, pumps, and reservoirs, did, between January 19th,
1905, and September 25th, 1906, divert large quantities of water from
said springs and streams, to the prejudice of the plaintiff.



DISCUSSION : WATER SUPPLY OF PARKERSBURG, W. VA. 803
Judge Adams, before whom the case was tried, charged the jury as Mr.

. .-, N. S. Hill,

lollows : Jr.

"If you are satisfied that if, by the operation of the defendants'
works in intercepting underground waters, any existing natural sur-
face stream was diminished in its flow on the land of Mr. Meeker to
an appreciable extent, he has suffered an actionable wrong, and is
entitled to compensation."

Furthermore, he stated that the alleged diminution of the surface
streams and the alleged destruction of the run-off from the springs
are claims independent of one another, but covered by the same legal
principle. He referred to the Harper decision, and stated:

"It is not easy to determine just what inferences are legitimate
from the language used by His Honor, Chief Justice Magie, in dealing
with a case similar to this and yet not altogether analogous. On the
whole, I conclude that the Harper case warrants this Court in saying
that when an existing spring, actual, not merely potential; visible, not
occult; a spring, not a well; brought to the surface by natural force,
not conducted there by the labor of man — when such a spring is
depleted by subterranean suction occasioned by the operation of a
pumping plant like that at East Orange, an actionable injury is
inflicted upon the owner of the land on which the spring is situated,
for which the law will award sufficient compensation."

In another case. Smith versus the City of Brooklyn (160 New York,
page 357), the following principle was laid down. If a city, by the
operation of a water system, consisting of wells and pumps on its own
land, drains the contiguous territory, and thus diverts and diminishes
the flow of water in a natural surface stream on the land of another,
it is answerable in damages, under the law that no one may divert or
obstruct the natural flow of a stream for his own benefit to the injury
of another.

Under these decisions, no provision whatever has been made for
the assessment of permanent damages. A man brings an action for
the damages resulting from the diversion of underground waters for
a definite period, and asks to be reimbursed for the damage which he
has suffered during that period. With surface streams the damages
awarded are permanent, and the Courts have defined their measure as
the difference in the value of the property before and after diversion.
The result of these decisions has been that East Orange has been in
constant litigation since 1905, when its underground system of water
supply was started, and the City has been compelled to acquire by
condemnation more than 1 750 acres of land for which it has no specific
use, in order to prevent continuing damages from accruing from year
to year. This property has cost the city $400 000 more than the
original estimate for the water supply system, or approximately 25%
of its value.



804 discussion: water supply of parkersburg, w. va.

Mr. There are many situations in which such a condition may develop,

jV. ' ' and every engineer should use great caution in advising a municipality
to embark in an undergromid water supply before satisfying himself
that such a condition is not likely to arise.

The speaker simply calls attention to this added element of uncer-
tainty, in conjunction with consideration of this paper. It is not
always possible to develop underground water supplies and be entirely
free from claims for damages to surrounding property, as many suppose.

Mr. Walter E. Spear,* M. Am. Soc. C. E. — It would be pertinent to

^^^^' the discussion of this paper to speak of two of the larger German
ground-water works which derive at times a large portion of their
supply from adjacent streams in somewhat the same manner as the
Parkersburg works. The collecting works of the first of the two
large ground-water plants supplying Dresden- — the Saloppe Works —
with which many members of the Society are doubtless familiar,
consist of a slotted cast-iron pipe, about 4 700 ft. long, and from 18
to 26 in. in diameter, which is laid along a low bank of the river
about 50 ft. from the edge of the water at ordinary low stages in
the Elbe, and about 8 ft. below the river surface. The cover of sand
and gravel over the gallery is about 15 ft. The maximum yield of
this water in 1904 was given as 12 000 000 gal. per day. Originally,
it was believed that all the water obtained at this plant represented
the ground- water flow from the upland water-shed that came slowly
through the gravel strata in the broad river valley. This idea, how-
ever, was soon abandoned. At high river stages, when the ground
over the gallery was flooded, it was found that very considerable quan-
tities of water came directly from the river through the 15 ft. of cover.
Ordinarily, the water from this gallery was of very good quality,
but, when the river was in flood, and a large proportion of the supply
was filtered river water, it showed some deterioration. During a
flood in 1896, when the river was 10 ft. above the surface of the
ground over the gallery, there were several thousand bacteria per
cubic centimeter in the water delivered at the station. There was
no typhoid fever in Dresden as a result of the flood, but many cases
of intestinal disorders were reported in the city.

The Schierstein Works, supplying Wiesbaden, at the time of the
speaker's visit in 1904, drew a supply of water from 32 wells driven
along the Rhine at a distance of from 200 to 400 ft. from the water
at low river stages. These wells were about 35 ft. deep, and penetrated
a thick stratum of sand and gravel, which was covered for the most
part with a layer of sandy clay 10 ft. or more in thickness. Ordinarily,
the supply from these wells was of good quality. It was practically
all ground-water, but the cover of sandy clay was known to be absent

• Newjork City.



DISCUSSION : WATER SUPPLY OF PARKEESBURG, W. VA. 805

in the river channels, and the director of the works, Mr. Halbertsma, Mr.
considered it wise to put in an ozone plant at the works to sterilize ^^^^'
the water when the Rhine was in flood.

In looking over the description of the Parkersburg collecting works
and noting the meager thickness of cover over the screen sections,
it would seem to be the part of prudence for those responsible for
their operation to put in a sterilization plant. Although such a plant
might well be operated all the time, it should certainly be used when
the river is in flood, when the surface of the filter, therefore, is inac- *
cessible, and when the analysis of the water shows signs of pollution.

The Parkersburg plant has some slight resemblance to artificial
ground-water works constructed extensively in Sweden, where there
are natural beds of sand and gravel, as at Parkersburg, without any
adequate supply of ground-water. At these works in Sweden surface
water is applied through open channels to the , surface of these
beds of pervious material, and the water filtering through is abstracted
below, generally from wells driven at a safe distance from the open
channels. The surfaces of these beds may be cleaned like a filter,
by cutting off the supply and allowing the water to drain away. In
respect to the depth of material through which the water flows to
the wells, and the readiness with which the filter surface may be
cleaned, these Swedish works differ from the Parkersburg plant, and
these points of difference seem to constitute the chief elements of
weakness in that plant.

T. Kennard Thomson,* M. Am. Soc. C. E. — This paper is of Mr.
special interest to the speaker because he has long had a high opinion o™^''°-
of the author, a graduate of West Point, and has himself had con-
siderable experience in, on. and with the Ohio River, first at Kenova,
about 125 miles south of Parkersburg, where the depth was 6 ft. at
low water and 66 ft. at high .water, with very sudden fluctuations
or floods; then at Mingo Junction, about 75 miles above Parkersburg.

The speaker also designed caissons for the Wabash Bridge over
the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh, just above the junction of the
Monongahela and Alleghany, about 200 miles above Parkersburg.

Mr. Fuller has mentioned the impurities of the Ohio River water,
and his reference can readily be understood by any one who knows
the river. In the first place, to give some faint idea of the sediment
carried by this river, it might be stated that, during the winter of
1890-91, one of the coffer-dams for the Kenova Bridge, which was
approximately 30 by 100 ft. and 25 ft. in depth, was left in the river.
When the waters subsided in the spring this coffer-dam was found
to be filled to the brim with sediment. The speaker has no means of
knowing whether or not the river could have filled it more than once
during the winter.

• New York City.



806 discussion: water supply of parkeesbueg, w. va.

Mr. A river which carries such an immense quantity of sediment and

omson. -g subject to such severe floods and dry spells is not very dependable,
to say the least. To make matters worse, the river is not only
polluted by the discharge from many sewers, but, also, during these



Online LibraryAmerican Society of Civil EngineersTransactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (Volume 81) → online text (page 65 of 167)