April 12, 1958: Death of Edward Bartow

April 12, 1958:  Death of Edward Bartow.“Edward Bartow (1870–1958) was an American chemist and an expert in the field of sanitary chemistry. His career extended from 1897 to 1958 and he is best known for his work in drinking water purification and wastewater treatment. He was well known as an educator, and his many students went on to leadership positions in the fields of sanitary chemistry and engineering….

He began his career as an instructor of chemistry at Williams College about 1896. His first academic appointment was as an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas. He taught there from 1897 to 1905. While in Kansas, he worked with the U.S. Geological Survey analyzing the waters of southeastern part of the state.

His next position was as Director of the Illinois State Water Survey. He also held the title of professor of sanitary chemistry at the University of Illinois from 1905 to 1920. He led efforts to eliminate typhoid fever by developing treatment methodologies for water purification. In 1914, he began the first large-scale investigations of the new sewage treatment process called activated sludge. A bronze plaque was placed on the grounds of the Champaign-Urbana Sanitary District to commemorate the work on this process done by Bartow and his colleagues. The Illinois State Water Survey became well known for producing high quality work and the fourteen volumes of bulletins and reports published during his tenure are classics in the field of sanitary chemistry and engineering.

From 1920 until his retirement in 1940, he was professor of chemistry at the University of Iowa. He significantly enhanced the department and when he left, the number of PhD degrees awarded totaled 240 in chemistry and chemical engineering….

Bartow received many honors including an honorary D.Sc. from Williams College in 1923. Several societies honored him with life memberships. In 1971, he was inducted into the American Water Works Association Water Industry Hall of Fame.”

Commentary:  This posting is from another one of the biographies of inductees into the Water Industry Hall of Fame that I wrote for Wikipedia.

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April 11, 1956: Central Utah Project Authorization

The Bonneville Project was just one component of the Central Utah Project

April 11, 1956: The Central Utah Project (CUP)was authorized under the Colorado River Storage Act.  “The CUP is a water resource development project that provides water supplies to the central portion of the state of Utah. It was authorized under the Colorado River Storage Act of April 11, 1956, with planning and construction initially by the Bureau of Reclamation (“BuRec”). The CUP diverts a portion of Utah’s 23 percent share of the Upper Basin of the Colorado River to originally a 12 county area within Utah …. Project features divert water from the southern slopes of the Uinta Mountains and the Colorado River to the Wasatch Front through a collection system consisting of a series of aqueducts, tunnels and dams.

The CUP was considered by local farmers and civic leaders as far back as the turn of the century. In 1902, these leaders began investigating the Strawberry Valley Project, and subsequently it was one of the first in the nation to be constructed in 1905 under the newly passed Reclamation Act of 1903. The original study envisioned a farsighted project that would divert waters from Uinta Mountain streams as far east as the Yellowstone River for storage in a reservoir situated in the Strawberry Valley. The water would then flow by tunnel through the Wasatch Divide into the headwaters of the Spanish Fork River. By 1919 local municipal, agricultural and state leaders began planning for the expansion of the Strawberry Valley Project to obtain additional water supplies. Between 1939 and 1945 the BuRec investigated means of developing additional Colorado River water. In 1945, BuRec studies identified and first named the CUP in a document entitled “Project Planning Interim Report.”

The state of Utah and its congressional delegation worked diligently to gain authorization of the CUP and were successful in having the CUP, Initial Phase, authorized for construction as a participating project under the 1956 Colorado River Storage Project Act.”

April 10, 1913: Small Water Treatment Plants in Illinois

April 10, 1913:  Engineering Newsarticle. Conditions of Small Water Purification Plants in Illinois. By Ralph Hilscher. “In Illinois there are about a dozen water purification plants with rated capacities of about 2,000,000 gal. per day, or less, which involve the use of coagulants, settling basins and filters. Of these, with possibly two or three exceptions, it can be said that none produce an effluent that attains at all times the standard of purity that any municipality should demand for Its public water-supply. Some of these plants yield an effluent during the major part of the time, which is of quite satisfactory quality, but fall far short of successful operation during periods of excessive turbidity and color in the raw water. Others produce an effluent at no time that is of good appearance and satisfactory from a hygienic standpoint.

The poor results realized are due largely to certain faults in design and operation, which are more or less common to these small installations. Many of the plants are of obsolete design and in practically all the plants, too great economy was attempted in building and certain essential features were omitted. The operation has usually been deficient due to lack of experience and expert advice In such matters. Certain faults largely responsible for the short-comings of these plants will be discussed [in the larger article].

Reference:  Hilscher, Ralph. 1913. “Conditions of Small Water Purification Plants in Illinois.” Engineering Newsarticle 69:15(April 10, 1913): 707.

Commentary:  Like today, there were problems with small water systems throughout the U.S. The image of the double-plunger angle blowoff valve has nothing to do with the article about small water treatment plants. It was just a cool drawing in the same issue of Engineering News.

April 9, 1914: Kensico Dam Excavation

Kensico Dam 2012

April 9, 1914:  Engineering Newsarticle. Excavation and Foundation Work for the Kensico Dam. By Wilson Fitch Smith. “SYNOPSIS-A masonry dam 307ft. high, 1843 ft. long, containing 900,000 cu.yd. of masonry will store 29 billion gallons of water near the lower end of the Catskill Aqueduct, New York City additional water supply. Expansion joints 80 ft. c. to c., drainage wells, inspection galleries, and an architectural treatment of the downstream face of the dam are among its special features. The contract price was nearly $8,000,000. Steam shovels were used for excavating work and cableways for handling the excavated material and much of the contractor’s plant. Guy and stiff-leg derricks were used to complete the excavation and to place masonry. The contractor’s plant represents an investment of more than $1,000,000 and is operated largely by electrical current. During seven months of 1913, a total of 316,000 cu.yd. and in September, 58,242 cu.yd. of concrete and concrete blocks were placed in the dam. Progress on construction to date indicates that the dam will be completed long in advance of the contract date, which was about 1920.

The Kensico Dam, now under construction by New York City, for a storage reservoir in the valley of the Bronx River, three miles north of White Plains, is an important feature of the Catskill water-supply system. It takes rank among the notable masonry dams of the world not only on account of being one of the largest, but also because of the methods of construction which enabled over 300,000 cu.yd. of masonry to be placed in the dam during the working season of 1913.”

Reference:  Smith, Wilson F. 1914. “Excavation and Foundation Work for the Kensico Dam.” Engineering News. 71:15(April 9, 1914): 763.

Commentary:  This dam is one of the most beautiful masonry dams ever built.

April 8, 1915: New Pump Station at Saugus, Massachusetts

April 8, 1915:  Municipal Journalarticle. New Pumping Station Near Completion. “Saugus, Mass.-Work on Saugus’ $25,000 standpipe is progressing rapidly and will be completed in a few weeks. The standpipe is situated on the highest elevation in town. The elevation from the floor of the pump house to the base of the standpipe is 200 feet and with the additional 85 feet, which will be the height of the standpipe, will give a pressure of 126 to 130 pounds, which, at the present time averages 40 pounds pressure in Saugus Centre and East Saugus. The contractors are the Chicago Bridge & Iron Works Co., of Chicago. The standpipe will be supplied by two 300-gallon centrifugal pumps, manufactured by the De Laval Pump Company. These pumps will be driven by two 20-horsepower Westinghouse motors, automatically arranged to keep the height of water in the standpipe at a stated level, without the employment of an attendant. The standpipe is to be used for fire protection principally, for which purpose there has been installed a 6-inch remote control, electrically operated valve, to be operated from the central fire station, which, in case of fire, by the pressing of a button will force the standpipe pressure into the mains.”

Reference:  “New Pumping Station Near Completion.” 1915. Municipal Journal. 38:14(April 8, 1915):478-9.

Commentary:  Pumps powered by electric motors were taking over from the old technology of powering water pumps with steam engines.

April 7, 1904: Baltimore Sewer System Construction Legislation

April 7, 1904:  Baltimore Sewer System. “Baltimore was one of the last major cities on the east coast to construct a proper sewer system. The City’s inability to install sanitary sewers until 1915 tarnished the appeal of what was otherwise a successful city. Several commissions throughout the nineteenth century formulated plans for a sewer system for Baltimore, but were unsuccessful because of economic conditions and fighting between political parties.

Lacking a sewer system, Baltimore relied primarily on privy vaults (cesspools) for waste disposal until the early twentieth century. Privy vaults are holes dug 3 to 75 feet deep, though most were quite shallow. Baltimore’s sandy soil was ideal for privy vaults, making the method the most economically viable form of waste disposal. It was estimated that in 1880, with a population of 350,000, over 80 thousand privy vaults were in use in the City.

The Great Fire of 1904 proved to be the final factor in the construction of a sewer system in Baltimore. A new spirit among the residents arose from the ashes of Baltimore and there was a drive to rebuild and improve the city. On April 7, 1904, the Sewage Enabling Act passed in the Maryland legislature. It provided ten million dollars for a new sewer system in Baltimore. Construction began in 1907 and the sewage treatment plant was operational in 1915. Public health improved, as did the image of the City. Today, the Back River and Patapsco wastewater treatment plants serve 1.6 million people and treat up to 250 million gallons of sewage per day.”

April 6, 1916: Typhoid Lawsuit and Reservoir Damage Lawsuit

April 6, 1916:  Municipal Journalarticles.

“Three Sue City for Typhoid Deaths. Milwaukee, Wis.-Three suits brought against the city of Milwaukee as a result of the recent typhoid epidemic, have been filed in circuit court, by two men for the deaths of their sons, and by a woman for the death of her husband. They are for $10,000 each. The complainants claim that the victims contracted the disease from the use of lake water, alleged to be unfit to drink because of the sewage which is being constantly emptied into the lake. The suits charge negligence in allowing the water to become polluted and at the same time supplying it to drink. It is claimed that at various times during the last ten years the city officials have been notified of the condition of the water, but that no attention has been paid to the warnings.”

Lake Worth Spillway

“City Wins Reservoir Damage Suit. Fort Worth, Tex.-The second court of civil appeals has reversed and remanded the reservoir damage case against the city of Fort Worth, in which a jury in the sixty-seventh district court had awarded the plaintiff $39,867.88 for damage to her land flooded by the backwaters of Lake Worth and alleged damage to adjoining uplands. This is the first of four big reservoir damage suits that have gone against the city under the present administration to be submitted to the higher court. It was appealed on the grounds that the court erred in admitting certain testimony and of misconduct of the jury in considering matter that was not in evidence. The jury awarded $75 an acre for 361 acres of lowlands and $9 an acre for 839 acres of uplands. City witnesses appraised the lowlands at from $35 to $50 an acre and testified the uplands were not damaged. By the reversal the city also saves the interest on $39,867.88 from April 28, 1915.”

Reference:  Municipal Journal. 1916. 40:14(April 6, 1916): 489.

Commentary:  The typhoid fever epidemic in Milwaukee was caused by a city employee turning off the chlorine disinfection system for about 10 hours. The epidemic resulted in 513 cases and 59 deaths from typhoid fever. As filtration and chlorination became more widely installed to protect water supplies, it became harder for cities to claim that contaminated water supplies were not responsible for typhoid fever deaths. The combination of engineers wanting to do the right thing and lawsuits resulted in an accelerated introduction of the new technologies.