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quantity of water, and if more is consumed or passes through the meter the consumer would have to pay for that additional quantity.”
Although at first sight the expense of the meters would appear to be prohibitive, both the consumer and supplier would soon be reconciled to the outlay, the one because he would know what he was paying in proportion to the water he received, and the other because they were only supplying water for which they were paid.
The consideration of the subject of this paper would not be complete without a reference to the important question of the conservancy of our rivers.
It is useless to discuss the method and conditions of supply, if the sources of water are not to be preserved to us, and it is quite certain that, with the immense growth of the population of this kingdom, it will not be long before this preservation becomes a pressing necessity.
In the report presented to Parliament by the Duke of Richmond's Select Committee on Conservancy Boards, in 1877, a very workable scheme was recommended by their Lordships. The Committee say that :
" In order to secure uniformity and completeness of action, each catchment area should, as a general rule, be placed under a single body of conservators, who should be responsible for maintaining the river, from its source to its outfall, in an efficient state. With regard, however, to tributary streams, the care of these might be entrusted to district committees, acting under the general directions of the conservators; but near the point of junction with the principal stream they should be under the direct management of the conservators of the main channel, who should be a representative body, constituted of residents and owners of property within the whole area of the watershed.”
But although the question of improving the water supply by preventing the pollution of the rivers, was incidentally mentioned by their Lordships, it is evident that the main object of the report was the prevention of floods, and not the conservancy of water for the supply of populations. Now, it may well be said that the one subject is at least as important as the other, and just as the recurrence of a number of wet seasons at that time brought the question of the floods prominently before the Duke of Richmond's Committee, it may safely be asserted that a corresponding succession of dry seasons will compel the serious attention of the Government to the other part of the subject. We need go no further than our metropolis for the proof of this, for if, in addition to the saving of water by the prevention of waste, the flow of the Thames were properly regulated by works in the higher parts of its watershed, there is no reason why the river should not be in a condition which although leaving very much to be desired in the way of improvement, would yet be tolerable, and, according to past experience, absolutely not injurious to health.
When presiding over the Mechanical Section of the meeting of the British Association, at Dublin, in 1878, on which occasion the opportunity was taken to very fully discuss, from a variety of aspects, this question of rivers conservancy, I made a suggestion which, I believe, is worth repeating at the present time. In my address to the Section it was stated :
“ When it is considered that many lives are annually sacrificed, either directly by the action of floods, or by the indirect but no less fatal influence of imperfect drainage, when it is remembered that a heavy flood, such as that of last year, or that of the summer of 1875, entails a monetary loss of several millions sterling in the three kingdoms; that during every year a quantity of water flows to waste, representing an available motive-power worth certainly not less than some hundreds of thousands of pounds; that there is a constant annual expenditure of enormous amount for removing débris from navigable channels, the accumulation of which could be mainly if not entirely prevented ; that the supply of food to our rapidly growing population, dependent as it is at present upon sources outside the country, would be enormously increased by an adequate protection of the
fisheries ; that the same supply would be further greatly increased by the extra production of the land, when increased facilities for drainage are afforded ; that, above all, the problem of our national water supply, to which public attention has of late been drawn by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, requires for its solution investigations of the widest possible nature, I believe it will be allowed that the question, as a whole, of the management of rivers is of sufficient importance to make it worthy of being dealt with by new laws to be framed in its exclusive behalf.
"A new department should be created—one not only endowed with powers analogous to those of the Local Government Board, but charged with the duty of collecting and digesting for use all the facts and knowledge necessary for a due comprehension and satisfactory dealing with every river-basin or watershed area in the United Kingdoma department which should be presided over, if not by a Cabinet Minister, at all events by a member of the Government who can be appealed to in Parliament.”
It is earnestly to be hoped that no further time will be lost in passing an Act to deal with this subject, and that no considerations of a party or private nature will be allowed to prevent a scheme of so important and imperial a character being made as complete and comprehensive as possible.
In conclusion, as I commenced by saying, I have not attempted to say anything new ; indeed the subject has already been in the hands of far abler exponents than myself ; especially would I refer to Dr. Frankland's very able and comprehensive Sixth Report of the Rivers Pollution Commission, the careful study of which is recommended to everybody who wishes to master the details of the question.
SOURCES OF WATER SUPPLY.
By JAMES MANSERGH, M.Inst.C.E., and M.E., F.G.S.,
It used to be a popular belief that if a well were sunk at any place to a sufficient depth into the ground, there would be reached an inexhaustible reservoir of water, a store that had been filled in some mysterious manner at the creation of the world, and would suffice for the use of man for all time.
It is now well known that all supplies of water, whether found upon the surface, or below it, in underground depths, are derived from the rain which falls upon the earth, and that it depends upon the geological character of the surface receiving the rain whether it shall run off in the form of streams and rivers, or soak in and be apparently lost.
Rain is produced from the evaporation of invisible aqueous vapour, principally from the ocean, by means of solar heat, its condensation, primarily into the shape of clouds, and subsequently into the form of drops, which fall to the ground.
The sea is thus a storage reservoir of boundless capacity, and the sun is the great prime mover which pumps the water up from this reservoir, distributes it over the land, and lifts it to the hills, where it may be impounded in natural or artificial lakes, and thence delivered by gravitation to the plains below.
After being discharged on the earth in the shape of rain or snow, a part of the water is re-evaporated, but the greater part begins at once to travel downwards, either over the surface, in the form of rills and streams, and so on to the ocean whence it came, or through the surface, if this is permeable, into fissured or porous rocks below.
A portion of this latter water passing into the ground at high levels, has several courses open to it.
It may appear
in the shape of springs at lower levels, or rise in the beds of rivers, or run out through fissures on to the sea beach, or sink below sea level, whence it will be recoverable only by artificial means.
Nature has in this way provided water from one great source in ample quantity for the use of man, but works of varying character, under differing local circumstances, must be constructed to store and utilise it.
Altitude and the geological structure of a district are the two principal factors which determine what the source of water supply must be in such district. The two greať classes into which sources may be divided are (a) aboveground and (6) underground sources.
The former (a) has several subdivisions, which may be described as follows :
1. Water may be taken from the heads of streams by laying pipes right up to the springs, to convey it away for supply without any intermediate storage, as in the case of Lancaster. This is a source which in some sense belongs to the two classes, for the water is taken just as it ceases to be underground water, and is being delivered on to the surface above ground.
2. It may be obtained from a natural lake like Loch Katrine, as in the case of Glasgow.
3. It may be collected from a high-lying watershed area, by impounding a number of small streams in artificially constructed reservoirs, as is done for the supply of Manchester.
4. It may be taken from a large river flowing past a town, as is done in the case of the Thames and Lea for the supply of London.
The second class (6) is not divisible in the same way as (a), but may be taken as embracing supplies of water obtained from many varieties of geological stratification, such as chalk, colites, coal measures, millstone grit, magnesian limestone, Bagshot sands, and many others.
All water, when discharged upon the earth as snow or rain, is practically pure, but its character is very soon VOL. VIII.-H. C.