Tag Archives: slow sand filtration

May 28, 1914: Chlorination of Torresdale Filtration Plant in Philadelphia

May 28, 1914: Municipal Journal article. Disinfecting Philadelphia’s Water Supply. By Francis D. West. “Bleach was first used at Torresdale [now called the Samuel S. Baxter treatment plant] in the form of hypochlorite of soda, produced electrolytically, during September, 1909. Two cells manufactured by the National Laundry Co. were used. A current of 35 amperes at 110 volts was used to decompose a brine solution. The chlorine and soda were allowed to recombine and the temperature was so high (about 110° F) that chlorates were formed. The bleach was applied directly in front of the first valve of one of the preliminary filters operated at a 20 mgd rate, or about 1/4 normal.

The conclusions were in part that the bacterial efficiency of the filter was considerably less than that of filters operated at four times the rate without treatment.

Hypochlorite was again used in December 1910. Due to the fact that the bacterial efficiency of slow sand filters decreases considerably in cold weather and the fecal organism B. coli communis was present in the filtered water, it was decided to use chloride of lime to disinfect the water in the filtered water basin. Treatment was continued until April 1911, when it was stopped; was again started December 1911, and was continued without interruption until February, 1913.

Liquid chlorine was first used Nov. 26, 1913, in conjunction with chloride of lime about 90 lbs. of liquid and 800 lbs. of powder being used daily until Feb. 9, when the use of chloride of lime was stopped.

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March 24, 1909: Disinfecting Water at Poughkeepsie, NY

March 24, 1909: Municipal Journal and Engineer article. Disinfecting Water at Poughkeepsie. “Sedimentation is ineffective because there is nothing to be precipitated, coagulation is ineffective because there is nothing for the coagulant to attack, the efficiency of the filters is not as good at this season of the year, so disinfection is being tried. So far the results have been marvelous.

By the simple adding of the disinfectant (chloride of lime) to the raw water, as if by magic the purification is complete. The hypochlorite is added in the pump and the water then passes through the sedimentation basin. The last bacteriological result shows a reduction from 17,500 to 100. The filters continue to assist in the purification, but there is no necessity for careful regulation.

At present we are adding the disinfectant at the rate of one-half part of free chlorine per million, which figures about 36 pounds of hypochlorite per day for our consumption. There is absolutely no taste or trace of the chlorine in the filtered water, the process is simple, safe and complete. The expense at our present rate is 75 cents per day, where it has been as high as $10 for alum.

The suggestion that this disinfectant method be followed came to us from Mr. George C. Whipple, of New York City. The accompanying cut shows the general layout of the purification plant. The water takes the following procedure: It is pumped from the river into the inlet end of the sedimentation basin, a total lift of about 50 feet; the water then passes through the basin and out at the outlet end, thence by pipe line into the intermediate basin from which it is distributed to each one of the filters. From the filters the water passes to the clear water well and thence back to the station, where another set of pumps sends it to the College Hill distributing reservoir.

The disinfectant is being added from the coagulant basin, which is situated between the laboratory and station, inasmuch as the coagulant use has ceased until more turbid water arrives. Then the alum will be used in small quantities and the disinfectant added at the inlet end of the sedimentation basin.”

Reference: Harding, Robert J. 1909. “Disinfecting Water at Poughkeepsie.” Municipal Journal and Engineer. 26:12(March 24, 1909): 484.

Commentary: Chlorination began on March 17, 1909, as noted in a post on this blog. Poughkeepsie was the third documented use of chlorine for drinking water disinfection in the U.S. as noted in the book The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives.

March 17, 1909: Chlorination at Poughkeepsie, NY

March 17, 1909: Drinking water chlorination begun at Poughkeepsie, New York. Chlorine was tested at the Poughkeepsie, New York filter plant in early February 1909 but the application of chlorine on a permanent basis at Poughkeepsie did not begin until March 17, 1909. Therefore, the Poughkeepsie water supply was the third example of chlorine disinfection in the U.S. and the first time that chlorine was used as an adjunct to slow sand filtration. George C. Whipple suggested the third application of chlorine to a water supply in a report to the City. As noted in The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives, Whipple was on the opposite side from Dr. John L. Leal in the two Jersey City trials. Poughkeepsie, NY is a medium-sized city that is located on the Hudson River about 70 miles north of New York City.

Whipple recommended that the coagulant preceding the slow sand filter at Poughkeepsie be replaced with chloride of lime, which began as a test on February 1, 1909. On March 17, 1909, continuous chlorination was begun using a permanent chemical feeding apparatus.

October 1, 1896: Standpipe Failure; 1896: Philadelphia Filtration; 1913: Water Year Start

1001 Stand Pipe Failure at Garden City KansasOctober 1, 1896: Engineering News article. A Stand-Pipe Failure at Garden City, Kan. “Sir: A brief note in regard to the failure of the Garden City stand-pipe, another addition to the already large number of failures of these structures, may be of interest to the readers of Engineering News.

This stand-pipe was built by Palmer & Son, of Kansas City, Mo. It was located about one-fourth mile from the Arkansas River, and a few feet above its bed. It was 10 ft. in diameter, 130 ft. high, and was supported on a masonry foundation on a level with the surface of the ground…

About four years after erection a crack appeared on the west side of the pipe, in the angle iron connecting the bottom to the first course. This was soldered but continued to leak and about 21/2 years before the failure a new piece of angle, about 5 ft. long, was put in. Four of the six brackets had their legs broken about this time, and were repaired by bolting to them a strap of iron which passed down around the anchor bolt.

On April 30, 1896, during a very high wind from the northwest, estimated to have a velocity of 60 to 70 miles per hour, with occasional gusts of 90 miles, and which wrecked many of the windmills in this vicinity, a crack appeared on the north aide of the bottom angle iron. This crack increased in size for 11/4 hours, until it was 5 ft. long, with the water rushing out rapidly. Suddenly the angle iron to which the north guy was fastened gave way and the pipe blew over in the southwest direction. The pipe was about one-fourth full at the time of failure with both pumps delivering into it at nearly their full capacity.

The bottom angle iron broke at the angle all the way around except where the new piece was put in, where the first course failed along the rivets. All the brackets were broken, and the bottom was broken somewhat at its center around the entrance pipe.

It seems quite clear that the failure was due to three causes: (1) The weakness in the angle iron connecting the bottom and first course; (2) to the brackets not being long and strong enough; and (3) to the fastening of the guys being weak.

  1. C. Murphy, Hydrographer U. S. Geological Survey.”

Commentary: Sometimes we need to remember our failures as well as our successes. It was through an analysis of these failures that eventually water standpipes were properly designed and constructed in the U.S.

1001 Philadelphia Water Source ContaminationOctober 1, 1896: Engineering News article. Filtration of the Philadelphia Water Supply. “A vigorous crusade against the further use of Schuylkill River water, without filtration, is being led by the Woman’s Health Protective Association of Philadelphia, and the subject is being actively discussed by the press of that city. All admit that the present supply is impure, and that the water from this river is blackened with coal dust or made yellow by mud at every high stage In the river, and that it is liable to contamination from six cities upon its banks above Philadelphia, whose aggregate population Is 350,000. An entirely new supply, from a distant source of permanent purity, is undoubtedly the most attractive solution to the difficult problem presented, and for years put extensive surveys and investigations have been made with that end in view. But the enormous cost of such an undertaking, coupled with the lack of available means in the City Treasury and the disinclination to permit a private company to control the water supply of Philadelphia, have so far prevented any of the many projects of this sort which have been brought forward from being carried out.

Filtration has been often suggested, in Philadelphia. Several years ago certain parties backed by the city press, seriously recommended the location of filter-beds or filter-galleries In the River Schuylkill itself, an absurd scheme, which was dropped as soon as computations were made of the area required for the quantity of water to be filtered, the cost of construction, and the difficulties and risks of maintenance. But since the success of sand filtration as a means of purification of water has become generally understood, the intelligent citizens of Philadelphia have become strongly in favor of the construction of a system of filter beds. Our readers will recall that an appropriation to build a single filter-bed was before the Philadelphia Councils some months ago, and was only defeated by a close vote.

Recently the agitation for filtration has been started anew by the publication of a report upon the project of filtering the city’s water supply made to the Woman’s Health Protective Association by Mr. Allen Hazen, of the firm of Hazen & Noyes, of Boston.”

1001 Philadelphia TyphoidDeathRateCommentary: This article is important for several reasons. It highlights the struggle to choose between finding a “pure” upland source of water versus treating water supplies that were available locally. The fact that a citizens group got involved and hired Allen Hazen is notable. In the late 1890s, hundreds of cities were dealing with the same problem—contaminated water supplies. However, most of them did nothing for a long period of time and many people died. Philadelphia had a lot of trouble getting the political muscle organized to make it happen. An excellent website created by the Water Department historian highlights the struggle over filter construction. “Between 1900 and 1911, Philadelphia built a system of five [slow] sand filtration plants on high ground along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers…Costing $28 million, the filtration system was the largest public works project in the city up to that time and the largest filtration works in the world.”

Reference: Engineering News. 36:14(October 1, 1896): 218-9.

1001 US-GeologicalSurvey-Seal.svgOctober 1, 1913: October 1 is the first day of a water year. “A water year is term commonly used in hydrology to describe a time period of 12 months. It is defined as the period between October 1st of one year and September 30th of the next. The water year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends. (the year within which 9 of the 12 months fall). Thus the 2010 water year started on October 1, 2009 and ended on September 30, 2010. Use of water year as a standard follows the US national water supply data publishing system that was started in 1913. This time interval is often used by hydrologists because hydrological systems in the northern hemisphere are typically at their lowest levels near October 1. The increased temperatures and generally drier weather patterns of summer give way to cooler temperatures, which decreases evaporation rates. Rain and snow replenish surface water supplies.”

May 28, 1914: Chlorination of Torresdale Filtration Plant in Philadelphia

0528 Torresdale Cl2May 28, 1914: Municipal Journal article. Disinfecting Philadelphia’s Water Supply. By Francis D. West. “Bleach was first used at Torresdale [now called the Samuel S. Baxter treatment plant] in the form of hypochlorite of soda, produced electrolytically, during September, 1909. Two cells manufactured by the National Laundry Co. were used. A current of 35 amperes at 110 volts was used to decompose a brine solution. The chlorine and soda were allowed to recombine and the temperature was so high (about 110° F) that chlorates were formed. The bleach was applied directly in front of the first valve of one of the preliminary filters operated at a 20 mgd rate, or about 1/4 normal.

The conclusions were in part that the bacterial efficiency of the filter was considerably less than that of filters operated at four times the rate without treatment.

Hypochlorite was again used in December 1910. Due to the fact that the bacterial efficiency of slow sand filters decreases considerably in cold weather and the fecal organism B. coli communis was present in the filtered water, it was decided to use chloride of lime to disinfect the water in the filtered water basin. Treatment was continued until April 1911, when it was stopped; was again started December 1911, and was continued without interruption until February, 1913.

Liquid chlorine was first used Nov. 26, 1913, in conjunction with chloride of lime about 90 lbs. of liquid and 800 lbs. of powder being used daily until Feb. 9, when the use of chloride of lime was stopped.

0528 Torresdale Plant

March 24, 1909: Disinfecting Water at Poughkeepsie, NY

0324 Disinfecting at PoughkeepsieMarch 24, 1909: Municipal Journal and Engineer article. Disinfecting Water at Poughkeepsie. “Sedimentation is ineffective because there is nothing to be precipitated, coagulation is ineffective because there is nothing for the coagulant to attack, the efficiency of the filters is not as good at this season of the year, so disinfection is being tried. So far the results have been marvelous.

By the simple adding of the disinfectant (chloride of lime) to the raw water, as if by magic the purification is complete. The hypochlorite is added in the pump and the water then passes through the sedimentation basin. The last bacteriological result shows a reduction from 17,500 to 100. The filters continue to assist in the purification, but there is no necessity for careful regulation.

At present we are adding the disinfectant at the rate of one-half part of free chlorine per million, which figures about 36 pounds of hypochlorite per day for our consumption. There is absolutely no taste or trace of the chlorine in the filtered water, the process is simple, safe and complete. The expense at our present rate is 75 cents per day, where it has been as high as $10 for alum.

The suggestion that this disinfectant method be followed came to us from Mr. George C. Whipple, of New York City. The accompanying cut shows the general layout of the purification plant. The water takes the following procedure: It is pumped from the river into the inlet end of the sedimentation basin, a total lift of about 50 feet; the water then passes through the basin and out at the outlet end, thence by pipe line into the intermediate basin from which it is distributed to each one of the filters. From the filters the water passes to the clear water well and thence back to the station, where another set of pumps sends it to the College Hill distributing reservoir.

The disinfectant is being added from the coagulant basin, which is situated between the laboratory and station, inasmuch as the coagulant use has ceased until more turbid water arrives. Then the alum will be used in small quantities and the disinfectant added at the inlet end of the sedimentation basin.”

Reference: Harding, Robert J. 1909. “Disinfecting Water at Poughkeepsie.” Municipal Journal and Engineer. 26:12(March 24, 1909): 484.

Commentary: Chlorination began on March 17, 1909, as noted in a post on this blog. Poughkeepsie was the third documented use of chlorine for drinking water disinfection in the U.S. as noted in the book The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives.

March 17, 1909: Chlorination at Poughkeepsie, NY

0324 Disinfecting at PoughkeepsieMarch 17, 1909: Drinking water chlorination begun at Poughkeepsie, New York. Chlorine was tested at the Poughkeepsie, New York filter plant in early February 1909 but the application of chlorine on a permanent basis at Poughkeepsie did not begin until March 17, 1909. Therefore, the Poughkeepsie water supply was the third example of chlorine disinfection in the U.S. and the first time that chlorine was used as an adjunct to slow sand filtration. George C. Whipple suggested the third application of chlorine to a water supply in a report to the City. As noted in The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives, Whipple was on the opposite side from Dr. John L. Leal in the two Jersey City trials. Poughkeepsie, NY is a medium-sized city that is located on the Hudson River about 70 miles north of New York City.

Whipple recommended that the coagulant preceding the slow sand filter at Poughkeepsie be replaced with chloride of lime, which began as a test on February 1, 1909. On March 17, 1909, continuous chlorination was begun using a permanent chemical feeding apparatus.