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THE SAFETY OF THE RESERVOIR.

A public meeting, convened by Mr G. P. Clifford for the purpose of considering steps to be taken with respect to the making safe of the Rosa Creek reservoir, was held at the North Dunedin Drillshed last evening. There were about 200 persons present, and Mr James Wilson was chosen as chairman, The Chairman, in stating the object of the meeting, said that the citizens had a right to expect the City Council to do something definite in the matter of the reservoir. He was of opinion that there was not a man in the City Council who was qualified to give an expert opinion on the subject. They had had reports from engineers and others, particularly Professor Black, to whose report the speaker attached considerable importance. He had himself no doubt that there was a leak from the reservoir, though he was not afraid that anything serious would happen for years. He thought that the thanks of all the residents of that flat were due to Mr Clifford for the action he had taken in the matter.—(Applause.) Mr Clifford’s action up to the present point had been thoroughly disinterested, and therefore he thought that Mr Clifford should not be “sat upon.” He advocated that they ehonld insist upon the City Council doing something in the matter. Mr Clifford, who was received with applause, stated that ho would commence with the beginning of his knowledge of the reservoir at d trace it down to the present time. A little time after the Reseivoir Water Company was started, the directors

soli what shares they could and asked him to sell the balance. He sold them all, and the shares became valuable stock. A scare about a leak was started—no doubt to depreciate the value of the shares, which it did aud he explored the place thoroughly, but could find no leak, There used to be a pool between the by-wash and the reservoir, which at the time he spoke of was covered with a green vegetable growth, but a month afterwards this spot was dry. Where were the springs then ? He did not see any. He returned in 1876 from a visit to England, and upon again inspecting the reservoir, discovered a little stream a spring lie believed he called it then amounting to only a few gallons of water in the twenty-four hours. He drew _ the attention of Mr Mirams to it, and said it should not bo, but Mr Mirams poohpoohed the thing. He (the speaker) soon after went to live near the paper mill, and then ho thought he would like to be sure there was no flow, or otherwise he might be the first to go to Pelichet Bay.— (Laughter.) For a month or so he could find nothing, but after the Corporation commenced quarrying, in 18S2, at tho foot of the reservoir, he went one day to see what tbs little flow was like, and saw that there Wi s a stream as big as two of his fingers. He measured the flow, and found it was 5 Algal in the twenty - four hours, although Mr Mirams said afterwards that it was C,4oogal. There was no gauge at the place at the time, but one was put there two days afterwards. He next wrote to tho mayor (Mr Gore) on tho subject, and Mr Mirams furnished a report, in which he maintained that the flow was from a spring, but added that that was what Mr Davys, the inspector, had told him ; and Mr Mirams had stuck to that until last (Wednesday) night. Nothing was done until 1880, when it was found that the flow measured ll,ooogal. A deputation, for which he acted as spokesman, waited on the mayor, and told him that whether the flow was from springs or not it ought to be rectified. He (the speaker) then addressed a letter to the City Council, and Mr Mirams wrote a report in which he admitted the flow to be 14,400ga1, or equal to the contents ofthirty-six4oogaltanks. Itwassaidthatthat was nothing, and that there was no danger. He wanted to know whatsize they wanted it to be.—(Laughter.) That letter of his drew from the City Council tho only letter he ever received from them, which substantially said that they did not mean to do anything, because from observations during the last four years the flow of water was ascertained to bo independent of the pressure in the reservoir. Finding that the Council could not do anything, he wrote to the then Attorney-General (Mr Stout), requesting him to compel the Council cither to give a satisfactory explanation of the cause of the flow, or, if they were unable to do that, to take steps to put the lives and property of tho citizens out of danger.— (Applause.) To that he got a reply, stating that the Attorney-General did not see his way clear, or something or other. Finding ho could not do anything in one way he thought he Would try another, and accordingly he wrote to the Mayor and councillors individually, telling them that if they let the reservoir fill and life was lost in consequence they would be morally guilty of manslaughter. That frightened some, but the timid ones were soon talked over, Mr M. R. Duncan then examined the reservoir, and spoke without doubt about there being a leak. The next gentleman to come on the scene was Professor Blaok, and then the reservoir was emptied till, he believed, tho water came only just above the scour pipe. Professor Black put ammonia into the reservoir, and got it from all the flows mentioned. That proved clearly that the flows came from the reservoir, hut they began to be told where the flows might come from—from around the bank or above it, or elsewhere. When the reservoir was emptied he went up and noticed that the flow seemed just the same. The next day he did not think it was so much ; on the day after he was sure it was not so much ; and at the end of a week, “by jingo,” it had ceased. —(Laughter.) Where was the leak then ? It was easily accounted for, the embankment being of such a tremendous width that it took a week before it got dry.—(Hear.) Then Mr Robert Hay came and dived and delved, and he admitted there was a leak. He also admitted that what was called the concealed pipe came direct from the reservoir and was a very dangerous thing. A great deal of credit had been given to Mr Hay for what he had recommended, but the speaker did not think he deserved it. He charged some of the Corporation officers with misleading the Council in the matter, and he also charged the Council with misleading the public. In proof of the latter assertion he quoted from remarks made by the mayor (Mr John Barnes), Crs Fagan, Robin, and Barron, at a meeting of the City Couiicil on February 22, 1886. Referring to a statement by Cr Robin that “ both the inkt and outlet of the reservoir pipe had been stopped, and it was found that the water remained at the same level—another proof that the flow did not come through the bank,” he asked if they stopped both ends of the pipe, how tho devil they could expect water to come out?—(Loud laughter.) He denied that he had been ci eating any scare in the matter, and said it was the Council that had created the scare ; he had done everythiug to keep the matter quiet. (Laughter.) He had never given an opinion on the matter; he had simply said: “I say there is a flow of water there that should not exist.” He noticed that the City Engineer in his report to the City Council on the previous night had shifted his ground; not a word about the springs, but he (Mr Mirams) did not think the water came through the puddled walls. The matter was one that concerned everyone in tho City, for they might have to pay a rate of 5s in the £ if the reservoir were not put right. There was no doubt that if tho worst came the Corporation would have to pay compensation, for they had bad no end of warnings. The only thing he saw that could be done was to have an inspector appointed, la the Old Country there were inspectors of reservoirs, the same as there were in this colony inspectors of machinery and mines. He moved—“ That a petition be presented to Parliament praying them to appoint an inspector of reservoirs with duties and powers similar to those of the inspectors of machinery and inspectors of mines.” Mr Grant seconded the motion.

In answer to questions Mr Clikkord said that the water which came through from the reservoir was not muddy; it was, on the contrary, extremely clear. Ho could not say whether it left a deposit of clay, but there had been vegetable growth. When that leak began to show muddy water, then it was time to look out, because it became doubly dangerous then, He was positive that a competent Home engineer would not have passed that reservoir as being safe. He had been to the reservoir very often. Upon his soul it took up nearly all his time. He could not say whether the indentation was level with the fissure of the leak ; he had not examined it for the purpose of discovering that. At any rate water came through the embankment; that was a certainty, and it was evident—very evident —that there was a leak of large dimensions. Tho motion was then put and carried nan dis.

The Chairman considered that some further action would have to bo taken with regard to this important matter. Ho was of opinion that Government would not go so far as to appoint a general inspector of reservoirs, but they would probably appoint an engineer to investigate this particular one, Mr W. Gregg was of opinion that it would be the best thing to appoint a committee to look after tho matter of the leak in the interests of the citizens generally. Further, it might bo advisable to approach the City Council asking them to investigate the matter, and at the same time requesting them not to allow more than 25ft of water to acccumulato in the reservoir. At the present time he believed there were some 38ft of water in the reservoir, and, considering the agitation regarding the danger of this leak that was at present disturbing them, the amount was far too large. A Voice : There’s nothing to prevent them putting more water in. Mr Clifford considered that when 38ft of water was in the reservoir it was pretty full, and if there was a succession of very heavy rains, and then a downpour, the reservoir would then till, and not a soul could possibly prevent it, because the scour pipe aud by-wash weie not uiffioicntly large

to keep the water to the previous level. The water in the reservoir should be kept down a great deal, because 38ft was far too much.

Mr W. Watiien moved—“ That this meeting appoint a committee to forward the resolution already passed to Parliament.” It was very evident that some practical good would result from the meeting, but it was unfair that all tho work should be put on Mr Clifford's shoulders.—(Hear.) In 1872 he had become intimately acquainted with this alleged leak in the reservoir, and the only way in which the matter could bo properly settled was by appointing a strong committee to carry out the resolutions passed. He would remind those present that, so far as the City Council were concerned, the citizens should not expect very much from them at present, as that body lacked sufficient funds to complete the works already going on. The City Council were less wealthier than people imagined, and had they not been so short of funds they would doubtless have attended to tho matter long ago.—(A Voice : “ That’s no excuse.”) Mr Gregg seconded the motion.

Mr M. Cohen was of opinion that they should name their Committee before they put tho motion to the meeting. He did not intend expressing any opinion then on the matter that had been discussed, but ho thought it was but fair that the Council should know of the extent of the feeling fo insecurity in connection with the reservoir that existed in the minds of people in that immediate locality.—(Applause.) The Council did not appear to be aware that any general feeling of insecurity existed among the people who lived along the banks of the tho Leith ; and therefore it became necessary that the names of those who supported Mr Clifford’s action should be made known to them as early as possible.—(Hear, hear.) Having lived in that end of the ward for some time, he could say from his own personal knowledge that that feeling of insecurity affected far more people than some of the Council were disposed to believe. Mr Cohen’s suggestion being agreed to, the following gentlemen were appointed a committee to take steps to give effect to the resolution: Messrs M'Gavin, Gregg, J. Mitchell, A. Thomson, Owen, S. M'Donald, J. Wilson, Morrison, J. R. Hooper, Stevens, and Pow.

Mr E. S. Clarke said it appeared to him that there was one matter with regard to which there was greater reason for fear than the leak itself, and that was the pipes which were brought through the embankment. This was a matter which should be taken into very serious consideration. Both the supply pipe to the City and the scour pipe on the inside were brought through the embankment without any protection. There was also another serious matter in connection with the reservoir, and that was the question of insufficient provision for carrying olf the storm water in the case of a very heavy ilood. It might not bo generally known that the by-wash was not able to take away the water that (lowed into the reservoir. On one occasion the water was flowing over the whole of the upper embankment, and if it came over the embankment of the lower reservoir in the same way it would be a much more serious matter than the leak.

Mr Clifford said it was a recognised thing that it was dangerous to carry pipes through an embankment. They should either be carried through a tunnel, or the water should be brought over the embankment by a syphon. On the motion of Mr VVahiek a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to Mr Clifford for the trouble he had taken in connection with the matter of the reservoir.

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Bibliographic details

THE SAFETY OF THE RESERVOIR., Evening Star, Issue 7945, 28 June 1889

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THE SAFETY OF THE RESERVOIR. Evening Star, Issue 7945, 28 June 1889

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