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country. Water-rights are already very valuable, and they will probably become still more so. Would it be possible to safeguard our successors by insisting that special waterrights, if now asked to be created, shall be subject to revision, without compensation, after the lapse of 100


However, to return to rainfall, and explain why I stated it to be the origin of water supply. All rain and melted snow must be disposed of, either by evaporation, percolation, or flow into streams and rivers. The first class, evaporation, is, of course, not a supply, and therefore we must not pursue it. Percolation is the source of all springs and of all well-water. Sometimes, as at Lancaster, the springs are so large, that even a considerable town can be supplied by merely laying pipes to the sources whence they burst forth ; sometimes they run into the reservoirs of gravitation water-works; sometimes they pass, as in the chalk districts, for miles beneath impervious strata, finally being either pumped up from wells, or even, in rare cases, rising as true Artesian wells above the surface of the ground; and sometimes they pass even deeper, as in the red sandstone supplies pumped from extreme depths for Liverpool and other towns.

The water which runs off the surface is sometimes utilised by throwing a bank across a stream, and thereby forming a reservoir behind it, as, for instance, in the new supply for Liverpool from the Vyrnwy, where the reservoir will form a lake larger than many of those in Cumberland. Sometimes the lakes themselves are utilised as reservoirs, as, for instance, Loch Katrine and the surrounding lakes, and sometimes, as at York and London, the rivers are drawn from by powerful pumping machinery.

It is often said there are few things so uncertain as the rain. That is both true and false. True as regards our ignorance of the future, false as regards our knowledge of the limits within which the quantity of rain will be found to vary.

There are now hundreds of records of rainfalls in this country of thirty or more years each, and in a very large majority of them it will be found that the following proportions will be within 7 per cent. of the truth :

Wettest year, 45 per cent. more than the average.
Driest year, 33 per cent. less than the average.
Driest two consecutive years, 26 per cent. less than the average.
Driest three consecutive years, 21 per cent. less than the average.

There are many other facts respecting the laws of rainfall distribution, concerning which time prevents my saying anything, but I trust that enough has been said to establish the necessity of a perfect system of rainfall registration as the basis of any efficient hydraulic organisation.


Mr. E. K. BURSTAL thought Mr. Symons had made out a very strong case indeed for limiting to some extent the period to which water rates should be absolutely unalterable. They had been accustomed to consider that the three driest consecutive years were one-sixth less than the average, but he now showed that they were one-fifth less ; and as the difference between one-fifth and one-sixth was considerable when dealing with very large quantities, that was a sufficient reason why some such suggestion as his should receive serious consideration.

Mr. LIGGINS wished to point out the great importance of using rain gauges. Some thirty years ago he spent a month in Santa Cruz, and there he found the rain gauge was the first thing which interested the manager of an estate when he got up in the morning. The next year he visited his own estate in the island of Antigua, and found only two rain gauges in a whole group of islands ; but in consequence of what he had seen in the Danish islands, he interested all his friends, from the Governor downwards, in introducing the system. The result was that every estate in the island from that time had constantly used the rain gauge with great satisfaction.

The same course had since been adopted in Barbadoes, and he only wished the farmers of England were as enlightened as the planters of those islands, and would see the importance of having rain gauges on every farm in England. He was quite sure they would be pleased with their week's work when they came to tabulate it, and would find the benefit of the information thus obtained. When there were such divergencies as were indicated on the map, there was a clearly proved necessity that, in every district, they should know what they might expect, so as to guide them as to the desirability of commencing the various agricultural operations.

Sir ROBERT RAWLINSON, C.B., remarked that the rain gauge only afforded part of the information, and that a very imperfect part, of that which was necessary for the engineer in pursuing his practice. The rain gauge recorded the rain that fell into it ; it did not record the evaporation that took place outside of it. In this country a season might have a rainfall which should take place in a certain order, and which would register in the rain gauge a certain quantity of water, but scarcely any of that water would have been available for the engineer. For instance, in this country, after a continuance of dry weather, a heavy shower on the mountainous districts in Wales, or elsewhere in the kingdom, would do very little for the engineer, because nine-tenths of the water would go back into the atmosphere before it got down into any stream to feed a reservoir. That was a fact which young engineers should know. If in the mountains of Wales, for instance, a rainfall of 2} inches took place in a week, and then stopped, there would be no feeding water for an engineer's reservoir. Then, if an interval of dry weather should take place, and another 2} inches of rainfall during a week (which would be a tolerably heavy fall), the engineer would have no feed into his reservoir. He could mention one instance where, on the east coast of England, a reservoir which he had himself constructed was run dry, and for twenty months continuously there was no rainfall in that district which was capable of feeding it. Those were important facts which young engineers must take into account.

Mr. MACKNIGHT, with regard to Mr. Symons's reference at the end of his paper as to legislation being very desirable on the subject, said that gentleman had not told them in what direction the legislation he desired should proceed. For his own part he considered that a great deal of injury had been done to the country and to the public interests by premature and rash legislation on these subjects. He thought a great deal more information was required on scientific points before such attempts were made. In Scotland, in various sanitary matters, a great deal of harm had been done by premature legislation, where persons holding particular views on matters of scientific observation had influence enough to get legislation passed in those directions, and it had then turned out that instead of doing good it had done a great deal of harm. A great deal more information should be before the public and scientific societies before such attempts were made, and he deplored the fact that the country should be allowed to suffer from premature sanitary legislation.

A vote of thanks for the paper was then passed.




Author of Handbook on House Sanitation.

I BELIEVE that I am uttering a fact which no one can discredit, when I state that there is no object in social economy which is more important, having regard to the aggregate number of persons affected by it, than the supply of water to village communities and rural districts.

At the present moment, when the International Health Exhibition may help to draw attention to sanitary objects of varying degrees of importance, it may be well to make clear that the condition of rural districts, in relation to water—the first essential of healthy life—is a positive disgrace to a country represented by a State Department whose efforts, it appears to me, should be specially directed to the protection of small communities less able to help themselves than large ones ; and is a sad reflection on the present advanced stage of sanitary knowledge—an admission which the special meteorological condition of the present season, and a possibility of a visit of cholera, brings home to all minds with increased force.

If it should be understood, too, that the existence of this condition of things is to be traced, not so much to the absence of potable water, or the difficulty of bringing it into use, as to the disinclination of local authorities to develop the capabilities at their command.

It may be said with truth that, as a general rule, Local Boards and Boards of Guardians having jurisdiction in rural districts, who have been called into existence to supply the sanitary requirements of those districts, are animated with less desire to perform the duties devolving upon them than to avoid them. It is indeed notorious that the majority of members of Local Boards are elected under a pledge to oppose such works as sewage and water supply, on the ground that the rates will be increased ; and knowing this to be the case, and that few persons of superior position are willing to take part in Local Boards, because they would invariably be outvoted, it is easy to understand why rural districts should be the last to move in the water question. It is, however, very difficult to explain why the clergyman and medical man of rural parishes, whose higher education should be a guarantee that the right thing would be done, fail to exercise proper influence. If, perchance, they are elected to serve on Local Boards, it almost invariably follows, that the one forgets what he has said in the pulpit as to the influence on the Future of sudden death; whilst the other ignores the advice he has given his

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