April 17, 1888: Paper read at AWWA national conference by J.T. Fanning, President. Water Supply Treatments and Sources. “The first and highest among municipal duties is that of securing the most wholesome public water supply and thereafter faithfully protecting the same. If charged with this duty the municipality goes to the river, the lake, or the hill-side stream in search of a pure supply, it will learn that all these waters have their sediments and solutions, and most of them have such impurities as will catch the attention of even a careless observer.
When the public eye observes, or the public receives a rumor that these impurities are flowing from its taps, there is a liability of exceedingly capricious opinion. This capriciousness over real, and more often over supposed, impurities, is one of the chief difficulties with which projectors and managers of water supply have to contend, and out of it have grown discussions and hatreds and divisions that have almost rent communities asunder.
Sometimes the consumers of water accept a supply graciously when to do so is to endanger their community, and on the other hand lack of funds or probable profit may influence the acceptance of a pernicious source until a change is more feasible.
Commentary: It is no wonder that contaminated water supplies were killing people by the trainload during the late 1800s. Water professionals did not think much of customer service back then.