The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, MAY 20, 1880.
In a cablegram which reaches us amongst a budget of news sent to the Australian papers, but which have only this week found their way to New Zealand, by the Wakatipu, the information is conveyed that iron and steel have fallen in price in England 30 per cent. If this statement is a fact, it is not a welcome one to the Ashburton Municipal Council, who have now on hand over £4,000 worth of iron pipes, of all the dimensions needful for the laying down of a large and and complete system of water supply. The pipes, as our readers are aware, were pm-chased when the Borough had in view the construction of a scheme of water supply that was to cost £15,000 ; and but for the want of funds there was sufficient enthusiasm to carry the scheme to completion. But, however enthusiastic the Councillors may have been on the more expensive scheme, there intervened that terrible commercial depression, which stopped all the money supplies, knocking every idea that meant giving away cash out of people’s heads, and damping effectually the ardor of our municipal magnates on the question of the larger water scheme. Leave was obtained from the ratepayers to raise a loan of £15,000, but owing to the untoward state of the money market, action has not yet been taken on the floating of it, and it is questionable now if it ever will bo- The hard times sharpened the wits and cleared the eyes Of all who had to engage in business transactions, and the pressing need for a water supply and a drainage system, and the absence of funds to provide these, gave fruitfulness to necessity, the mother of invention, in the minds of the Borough councillors, so that they were constrained to turn practical eyes to a simple scheme that had often before been spoken of, but because of its modest simplicity was neglected, if not pooh-poohed. It was a scheme that Nature showed to be practical, for during one flood she sent a supply tearing down exactly the same course that has now been adopted by the Council as their water supply route. For many days “ dubs ” of water lay along the side of the railway line ; and while they lay th ej they were not altogether useless. A fire occurred in a cottage in Moore street, and the presence of one pool in the near vicinity, a remnant of the flood, showed how valuable to Ashburton might become the course from the river the water filling that pool had followed to reach the depresion in the ground it so opportunely filled on the occasion io which we refer. That pool was pumped almost dry by _ the Fire Brigade, and for a time, as the financial squeeze had not yet been felt, it was thought that no more would be heard of the modest idea of bringing the water through the Domain. Now, however, that scheme has been fixed upon, and is being carried out; and a few days will see its completion. It is called_a temporary scheme, to be sure ; but we feel certain that it will not be temporary, and will supply all Ashburton’s wants for a long time, notwithstanding such sneers as are occasionally thrown at it. Meanwhile the pipes, costly pipes, that were procured for the more elaborate scheme, lie useless by the side of the railway, while the Council and the County differ as to whether the special fund set aside by the latter for a water supply for the Borough shall absorb what profit may arise from the sale, or it shall go to the funds of the struggling Municipality. The Chairman of the County, with his usual acumen, holds that the profit of the sale, if the sale is to take place, ought to go the special water fund, while the Borough Councillors believe they have a right to it. And while the question is undecided the iron market has fallen, and fallen considerably. But were prompt action taken to find a market in the colony, we believe prices would yet be obtained that would leave a broad marginon the original costs of the pipes,— bought as they were at an exceptionally advantageous time—and yet make it worth the candle for colonial purchasers to deal with the borough for such pipes as they require. It is to be hoped that, when a thousand, or perhaps two thousand pounds are to be made out of the sale, the opportunity will not be lost of disposing of them at a profit before the market falls—and whether the special fund or the borough derive the benefit, it ought by all means be made a point to secure the profit. While the two bodies dispute over its disposal the opportunity for gaining it may slip away and the pipes will remain useless to the bprough, useless to the county, deteriorating in value as they lie unused, while they may now be converted into money and represent a great advance on the figure that was paid for them.