Our Summer Vacation
Pumps and their Value to Man
It has been asserted by some city health officials that many cases of typhoid fever in cities can be traced to the unsanitary conditions existing in summer resorts. The drinking water of most cities is now under strict supervision, while that of isolated farms, of small seaside resorts, and of scattered mountain hotels is left to the care of individual proprietors, and in only too many instances receives no attention whatever. The sewage disposal is often inadequate and badly planned, and the water becomes dangerously contaminated. A strong, healthy person, with plenty of outdoor exercise and with hygienic habits, may be able to resist the disease germs present in the poor water supply; more often the summer guests carry back with them to their winter homes the germs of disease, and these gain the upper hand under the altered conditions of city and business life. It is not too much to say that every man and woman should know the source of his summer table water and the method of sewage disposal. If the conditions are unsanitary, they cannot be remedied at once, but another resort can be found and personal danger can be avoided. Public sentiment and the loss of trade will go far in furthering an effort toward better sanitation.
In the driven well, water cannot reach the spout unless it has first filtered through the soil to the depth of the driven pipe; after such a journey it is fairly safe, unless very large quantities of sewage are present; generally speaking, such a depth of soil is able to filter satisfactorily the drainage of the limited number of people which a driven well suffices to supply.
Abundant water is rarely reached at less than 75 feet, and it would usually be impossible to drive a pipe to such a depth. When a large quantity of water is desired, strong machines drill into the ground and excavate an opening into which a wide pipe can be lowered. I recently spent a summer in the Pocono Mountains and saw such a well completed. The machine drilled to a depth of 250 feet before much water was reached and to over 300 feet before a flow was obtained sufficient to satisfy the owner. The water thus obtained was to be the sole water supply of a hotel accommodating 150 persons; the proprietor calculated that the requirements of his guests, for bath, toilet, laundry, kitchen, etc., and the domestics employed to serve them, together with the livery at their disposal, demanded a flow of 10 gallons per minute. The ground was full of rock and difficult to penetrate, and it required 6 weeks of constant work for two skilled men to drill the opening, lower the suction pipe, and install the pump, the cost being approximately $700.
The water from such a well is safe and pure except under the conditions represented in Figure 142. If sewage or slops be poured upon the ground in the neighborhood of the well, the liquid will seep through the ground and some may make its way into the pump before it has been purified by the earth. The impure liquid will thus contaminate the otherwise pure water and will render it decidedly harmful. For absolute safety the sewage discharge should be at least 75 feet from the well, and in large hotels, where there is necessarily a large quantity of sewage, the distance should be much greater. As the sewage seeps through the ground it loses its impurities, but the quantity of earth required to purify it depends upon its abundance; a small depth of soil cannot take care of an indefinite amount of sewage. Hence, the greater the number of people in a hotel, or the more abundant the sewage, the greater should be the distance between well and sewer.
By far the best way to avoid contamination is to see to it that the sewage discharges into the ground below
the well; that is, to dig the well in such a location that the sewage drainage will be away from the well.
In cities and towns and large summer communities, the sewage of individual buildings drains into common tanks erected at public expense; the contents of these are discharged in turn into harbors and streams, or are otherwise disposed of at great expense, although they contain valuable substances. It has been estimated that the drainage or sewage of England alone would be worth $ 80,000,000 a year if used as fertilizer.
A few cities, such as Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, realize the need of utilizing this source of wealth, and by chemical means deodorize their sewage and change it into substances useful for agricultural and industrial purposes. There is still a great deal to be learned on this subject, and it is possible that chemically treated sewage may be made a source of income to a community rather than an expense.
FIG. - A deep well with the piston in the water.
FIG. - Showing how drinking water can be contaminated from cesspool (c) and wash water (w).