August 31, 1918: Service Line Materials, Lead is Everywhere

0831 Service line materials 1August 31, 1918: Municipal Journal article. Selection of Material for Service Pipes. “Service connections generally give more trouble to the superintendent than any other part of the water works system. This trouble is of two kinds, one being the deterioration of the quality of the water, the other consisting of leaks and stoppages. To minimize these troubles, the selection and laying of service pipes and the appurtenances combined with them should receive the most careful consideration of the superintendent….

About a year ago a committee of the New England Water Works Association collected some statistics about service pipe, mostly from New England States. These showed that 22 cities had abandoned the use of uncoated iron or steel pipe, 11 of them adopting galvanized, 4 adopting lead, 3 lead-lined, and 4 cement-lined. Seventeen had changed from galvanized to other kinds, 7 of these to lead, 7 to lead-lined, 2 to cement-lined, and 1 to enameled. Six had abandoned lead pipe, 4 of them for galvanized and 2 for cement-lined. Eight had abandoned lead-lined pipe, 5 for galvanized, 2 for cement-lined and 1 for uncoated iron or steel. Twenty-seven had abandoned cement-lined, 16 for galvanized, 6 for lead and 5 for lead-lined. The changes from plain ungalvanized pipes were made almost entirely on account of rust. Changes from lead pipes were largely on account of the possibility of lead poisoning, although in some cases it was on account of expense or because the pipes did not have sufficient strength. Lead-lined pipe was abandoned on account of lead poisoning and trouble from bursting and because of the difficulty of making joints that will not corrode.

Statistics collected by Municipal Journal in 1915 showed that, of 421 cities reporting 136 used wrought pipe exclusively and 130 for a part of their services: 144 used lead pipe exclusively and 130 for a part of the services; 4 used lead-lined pipe exclusively and 10 for part of the services: 1 used cement-lined pipe exclusively and 21 for part of the services; 1 used brass exclusively and 1 for part of the services, and 2 used tin-lined in part. Of those using lead for part of the services, 11 used it under paved streets, most of them using wrought pipe elsewhere. Lead-lined pipe appeared to be used largely and cement-lined exclusively in New England. Massachusetts was the most catholic using every kind of pipe reported.”

Commentary: From this article and the one published yesterday (August 30), it is clear that water system managers and operators knew the dangers of lead pipe in the 19th and early 20th century. The fact that it was still widely used in some cities into the 1980s and 1990s is astonishing on many levels. Of course, Washington, DC remains the poster child for how not to deal with a lead service line problem.

August 30, 1895: Birth of Alvin Percy Black; 1861: Lead Poisoning

0830 AP BlackAugust 30, 1895: Birth of Alvin P. Black. “Born in Blossom, Texas, in 1895, Alvin earned a B.S. Degree at Southwestern University, completed graduate studies at Iowa State College and Harvard, and received his Doctorate Degree from the University of Iowa. During World War I, he served in the Chemical Warfare Service; following that, he joined the faculty of the University of Florida in 1920 as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. During his tenure there, Dr. Black earned national and international recognition in the field of water chemistry. He served as a consultant to numerous municipalities throughout the country since 1935.

Dr. Black joined the American Water Works Association in 1929 and served as both National Director and President. He also served as a member of the National Advisory Dental Research Council of the U.S. Public Health Service, and was appointed by the Surgeon General of the United States as one of the original members of the Advisory Committee on Coagulant Aids in water treatment. Dr. Black also served as a national consultant to the Office of Saline Water of the Department of the Interior. He is considered, today, a pioneer in the design of water treatment systems.

Dr. Black was the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his work and contributions to the development of systems and techniques in the field of water purification and distribution. He was one of the original founders, along with William B. Crow and Frederic A. Eidsness, of Black, Crow and Eidsness, which became part of CH2M HILL in 1977. He passed away on February 23, 1980, at the age of 84.”

Commentary: In 2009, I was honored to receive the A.P. Black Research Award from the American Water Works Association. Shortly after the award was announced, I received a phone call from John V. Miner who said Doc Black was a friend, mentor and second father to him. He was kind enough to place into my care a book entitled Collected Works of A.P. Black—1933-1966. The book of Doc Black’s papers was put together by Ed Singley (a colleague and friend of mine) and Ching-lin Chen, both students of Doc Black. John Miner asked that I keep the book for as long as I wanted to but then pass it on to another. The inscription on the flyleaf of the book reads: “To one of my sons, John Miner from Doc Black, his second Dad.”

August 30, 1861: New York Times headline–Fifty Prisoners in the County Jail Poisoned by Drinking Water Impregnated with Carbonate of Lead. “On Tuesday night last, about twenty of the prisoners confined in the Kings County Jail, were seized with vomiting and purging, accompanied by other symptoms, indicating that they had partaken of some deadly poison. Dr. Charles A. Van Zandt, the Jail Physician, was at once sent for by the keepers and by judicious management succeeded in saving the lives of all attacked, numbering, up to yesterday, about 50 of the inmates of the jail. When Dr. Van Zandt examined the first case, he was considerable puzzled to know in what manner the prisoners had been poisoned, but after a while he arrived at the conclusion that it must have been from the Ridgewood water, with which the jail is supplied throughout, in the common lead pipe. Fortunately he hit upon the right cause and was able to neutralize the reflects of the poison. He at once ordered the Ridgewood water to be cut off, and directed that well water — of which there is an abundance on the premises — should be used.”

August 29, 1924: Richmond, Virginia Filter Plant Completed

1924 Richmond, Virginia grocery store

1924 Richmond, Virginia grocery store

August 29, 1924: A complete filtration plant is finally built in Richmond, Virginia. Albert Stein built the first effort to filter a drinking water supply in the U.S. in Richmond in 1832. However the filtration plant was not successful and it was abandoned in 1835. Other efforts were made over the years to treat the Richmond water supply.

“Although Richmond did nothing effective to improve its water supply until well into the twentieth century, settling basins were proposed from time to time. In 1860, the city council asked the superintendent, Davis, and its city engineer, W. Gill, to make plans for a new reservoir “with a proper filter.” They proposed filters cleaned by reverse flow. A new reservoir was put in use January I, 1876. Later, under Superintendent Charles E. Bolling, and the health officer, two narrow settling basins, about a mile long, with provision for drawing off the sediment alternately, were provided. On December 22, 1909, large coagulation basins were added. Chlorination with hypochlorite was begun June 26, 1913, on Levy’s recommendation, following a few cases of typhoid fever in Richmond. In 1914, apparatus for applying liquid chlorine was installed. But not until August 29, 1924, was a complete purification plant available, with coagulation basins, mechanical filters, aerators and a clear-water basin, for the whole of 30-mgd capacity.”

Reference: Baker, Moses N. 1981. The Quest for Pure Water: the History of Water Purification from the Earliest Records to the Twentieth Century. 2nd Edition. Vol. 1. Denver, Co.: American Water Works Association, 130-1.

August 28, 1869: Birth of Allen Hazen; 1882: Death of John Rose Leal

August 28, 1869: Birth of Allen Hazen. “Allen Hazen (1869–1930) was an expert in hydraulics, flood control, water purification and sewage treatment. His career extended from 1888 to 1930 and he is, perhaps, best known for his contributions to hydraulics with the Hazen-Williams equation. Hazen published some of the seminal works on sedimentation and filtration. He was President of the New England Water Works Association and Vice President of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

During a year spent at MIT (1887-8), Hazen studied chemistry and came into contact with Professor William T. Sedgwick, Dr. Thomas M. Drown and fellow students George W. Fuller and George C. Whipple. As a direct result of his association with Dr. Thomas M. Drown, Hazen was offered his first job at the Lawrence Experiment Station in Lawrence, Massachusetts. LES was likely the first institute in the world devoted solely to investigations of water purification and sewage treatment. From 1888 to 1893, Hazen headed the research team at this innovative research institute into water purification and sewage treatment.

Hazen is most widely known for developing in 1902 with Gardner S. Williams the Hazen-Williams equation which described the flow of water in pipelines. In 1905, the two engineers published an influential book, which contained solutions to the Hazen-Williams equation for pipes of widely varying diameters. The equation uses an empirically derived constant for the “roughness” of the pipe walls which became known as the Hazen-Williams coefficient.

In 1908, Hazen was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to a panel of expert engineers to inspect the construction progress on the Panama Canal with President-Elect William H. Taft. Hazen specifically reported on the soundness of the Gatun Dam (an integral structure in the canal system), which he said was constructed of the proper materials and not in any danger of failure.

Hazen’s early work at the Lawrence Experiment Station established some of the basic parameters for the design of slow sand filters. One of his greatest contributions to filtration technology was the derivation of two terms for describing the size distribution of filter media: effective size and uniformity coefficient. These two parameters are used today to specify the size of filter materials for water purification applications. His first book, The Filtration of Public Water Supplies, which was published in 1895, is still considered a classic.

His first assignment as a sole practitioner in 1897 was the design of the filtration plant at Albany, New York. The plant was the first continuously operated slow sand filter plant in the U.S.

One of his early assignments was as consultant to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to determine the best method of providing a safe water supply from the Monongahela River. For decades, the City had been wracked with typhoid fever epidemics. At the time, mechanical filtration (or rapid sand filtration was just beginning to be understood as a treatment process. As a conservative engineer, Hazen recommended that the City install slow sand filters to remove both turbidity and harmful bacteria from its water supply. As early as 1904, Hazen recommended the filtration of the Croton water supply for New York City. As of 2013, a new filtration plant on that water supply is nearing completion.

Hazen received honorary degrees of Doctor of Science from both New Hampshire College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (1913) and Dartmouth College (1917). In 1915, he received the Norman Medal which is the highest honor given by the American Society of Civil Engineers for a technical paper that “makes a definitive contribution to engineering science.” He was selected as an Honorary Member of the American Water Works Association in 1930. In 1971, he was inducted into the AWWA Water Industry Hall of Fame with his friend and colleague, George W. Fuller.”

Commentary: This entry is part of the biographical entry for Hazen in Wikipedia that I wrote in June 2012. I did not know much about him until I wrote the article. He was truly an amazing engineer who excelled at everything that he was engaged in.

August 28, 1882: Death of John Rose Leal. John Rose Leal was born on October 20, 1823 (or possibly 1825 or 1827) in Meredith, Delaware County, New York. His parents were John Leal and Martha McLaury who were descended from early settlers of Delaware County, New York. There are records that John Rose Leal’s great-grandfather Alexander Leal was born in Scotland in 1740 and immigrated to the British colonies in North America, landing in New York City on April 13, 1774. On John R. Leal’s mother’s side, his ancestors came from Ireland and Scotland.

There is little information on John R. Leal’s early years. According to one source, he received his preliminary education at the Literary Institute, in Franklyn, Delaware County, New York and at the Delaware Academy in Delhi, New York.

John Rose Leal received his medical training under Dr. Almiran Fitch of Delhi, New York and completed his medical degree at Berkshire Medical College. Located in the westernmost regions of Massachusetts, Berkshire County, the medical college was in a remote part of the young country separated from the rest of the state by the Berkshire Mountains. The mission of Berkshire Medical College was to train doctors to serve the sparsely populated rural areas that were dominated by agriculture. Founded in 1822 as the Berkshire Medical Institution, the school had to overcome resistance from Harvard Medical School that objected to the establishment of another medical training facility in Massachusetts. With a student population of about 30 in the 1840s, a medical education was offered to students for the magnificent sum of $140 per year.

John Rose Leal received his medical degree in 1848 and shortly thereafter opened up a medical practice in Andes. Dr. Leal continued his education with a post-graduate course at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City—an institution that would figure prominently in one son’s education.

There is a limited amount information about his wife, Mary Elizabeth Laing, from historical records. Born in 1837, the fourth child of eight children, she was the daughter of Rev. James Laing of Andes, NY. She was born in Andes, NY, after the family moved there from Argyle, NY. Her father was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Andes.

John Rose Leal and Mary E. Laing were married in Andes on August 29, 1855. Mary E. Laing was only 18 when she married the successful country doctor. John L. Leal was born to the couple on May 5, 1868. Census records from 1860 show that another child was born to the couple about 1859 in Andes, William G. Leal. Another brother was born much later in Paterson, New Jersey, about 1870, Charles E. Leal. There are no records showing that William G. Leal survived into adulthood. Charles E. Leal lived to the age of 24 and died in 1894 in Paterson.

The simple rural life in Andes, New York was shattered by the Civil War in 1862 when the 144th Regiment, New York Volunteers was formed in Delaware County and the surrounding area. John R. Leal’s first appointment was as regimental surgeon and over the next three years he was promoted to surgeon at the brigade, division and corps levels. Toward the end of the war he held the title of Medical Director in the Department of the South. According to an obituary, Dr. Leal was wounded twice and was with his regiment at the battle of John’s Island.

The 144th Regiment was stationed on Folly Island in 1863 as part of the siege of Charleston, South Carolina. According to the history of the regiment, “very nearly every man in the Regiment got sick…with bad and unhealthy water to drink.” The only treatment at the time for the debilitating dysentery that overwhelmed the Regiment was the administration of “opium pills” by Dr. Leal. The pills did not cure anything but they made the recipients feel somewhat better. Dr. Leal became so ill that he received medical leave for a time, but it is clear from the records that he never fully recovered.

Dr. Leal was mustered out of the 144th Regiment on June 25, 1865 after which time he returned to his simpler life in Andes, New York. However, he brought a dreadful souvenir of the war home with him and he suffered with it for the next 17 years.

In one obituary, it was stated: “…his death, which resulted from an attack of peritonitis of an asthenic character, sequel to an attack of dysentery, which at the outset did not indicate an unusual degree of severity, but was undoubtedly aggravated by the chronic diarrhea from which he had been a sufferer more or less constantly since his retirement from the army.”

Another obituary was equally clear as to the cause of his death: “He never recovered from the effects of disease contracted on Folly Island, and this induced other complications, resulting in his death.”

Reference: McGuire, Michael J. 2013. The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives. Denver, CO:American Water Works Association.

Commentary: Dr. John Rose Leal was the father of Dr. John L. Leal who was responsible for the first chlorination of a U.S. public water supply—see The Chlorine Revolution.

August 27, 1914: Providence, Rhode Island Water Supply

William P. Mason

William P. Mason

August 27, 1914: Municipal Journal article. Experts Chosen for Providence Water Supply. “Providence, R.I.-Prof. William P. Mason, head of the department of chemistry at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, and X. H. Goodnow, chief engineer of the Massachusetts State Board of Health, have been engaged as experts to report upon the proposed Scituate source for an increased water supply for Providence, by the special City Council committee in charge of the matter. Messrs. Mason and Goodnow will begin work at once, and will report on the problem of quality and quantity of supply needed for this city, the best source for this supply, whether or not it shall be filtered, and any other problems in connection with the matter which the committee may put before them. An examination of all possible water supplies within the State will be made by them, in an endeavor to find whether or not there is another source which, for quality and quantity of supply, is as good as or better than the Scituate scheme. They will be given time enough to investigate all phases.”

Commentary: William P. Mason was President of AWWA in 1909. He also testified in favor of chlorination of the Jersey City water supply at Boonton Reservoir during the second Jersey City trial. Besides being a professor at a distinguished engineering

August 26, 1908: Excavation of a Sewer in the New Town of Gary, Indiana

0826 Wet Excavation of Sewer TrenchAugust 26, 1908: Municipal Journal and Engineer article. Wet Excavation of a Sewer Trench. “At Gary, Ind., where two years ago was prairie is today a city of 15,000, with ten miles of paved streets, twenty miles of gas mains, electric light plant, telegraph and telephone service. To complete the list of public services a sewerage system is now nearing completion, which will contain about twenty miles of mains and cost about $350,000. Several details of this system contain novel features, but one of the most interesting is the method employed by the contractors, Green & Sons, of Chicago, in trenching through a swamp underlaid with so-called quicksand. This trench was approximately 30 feet deep, 22 feet below the level of the ground water. The material excavated is said to be so saturated that an excavation in it one foot deep will take a width of thirty feet. The ground is in several places very low and contains ponds three or four feet deep. These conditions made ordinary methods impossible.

The contractors accordingly adopted a method novel in many respects. The upper eight feet, more or less, down to ground water, were excavated by means of a scraper bucket elevator, the width being made greater than that of the trench proper and no sheeting being used. Following this, a pump and series of connected wells in a double line in the center of the trench were used along 132 feet of the trench to remove the ground water to a depth of something less than sixteen feet. After this the trench was excavated in twenty-two-foot sections, sheeting being driven meantime to a further depth of six feet. Pump No. 1 was then moved ahead, and two others were set up, connected to wells dose to the sheeting on each side, and the excavation was then carried about sixteen feet deeper and the brick sewer built. In Boston and other places the method of drying the soil by numerous pipe wells before excavation has been used, but there are several features of the Gary work which are new and the work as a whole is, we believe, of greater magnitude than those referred to.”

Commentary: It appears that Gary, Indiana sprang out of the ground as an industrial center complete with a city infrastructure. The most interesting thing about this article is the amazing photograph. As noted on the photo it was taken from the mast of a bucket excavator, presumably with a photographer in the bucket towering 30-40 feet about the ground.

August 25, 1909: Waverly, Kansas Typhoid Fever Outbreak

0825 Waverly KansasAugust 25, 1909: Municipal Journal and Engineer article. Surface Water in Reservoir Causes Typhoid. “Waverly, Kan.-Professor Hoad, Engineer of the State Board of Health, who is investigating the sanitary condition of Kansas towns, says the worst place he has seen for many days is Waverly. The town has a population of about 500 or more people, and for the last two years typhoid fever has been practically continuous. Professor Hoad said that he and Dr. Crumbine, Secretary of the Board, had studied carefully all the probable causes, eliminating them one by one-even Dr. Crumbine’s fly-until finally it was narrowed down to the city water. The city gets its water from a large well or small reservoir, and this had been continually polluted by surface washings. Professor Hoad made the statement that if at the present time the same per cent of cases to the number of population existed in Topeka as now exist in Waverly there would be about 550 cases of typhoid in Topeka. He and Dr. Crumbine appeared before the City Council and ordered them to cement the outside of the wall, which is to be raised three feet. Then the water is to be pumped out and the inside of the wall plastered, after which the well is to be thoroughly disinfected. When this is done Professor Hoad will inspect the work and make a test of the water.”

Commentary: Dr. Crumbine is the same fellow who championed the banning of the common cup in Kansas and was instrumental in getting it banned on interstate carriers by federal regulation.