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THE WATER SUPPLY QUESTION., Marlborough Express, Volume XXI, Issue 78, 8 April 1885
THE WATER SUPPLY QUESTION.
[To the Editor of the Express.]
Sir, — Having engagements, which will probably necessitate my absence from Blenheim, when the next meeting to consider the water supply takes place, I shall feel obliged it you will afford space m the Express for the following few remarks :—
The importance of having a good supply of water for tho town is what, no doubt, most of the inhabitants will admit ; but the question is— whether we can yet afford it? Having a lar^e interest m Blenheim, I naturally would like to see effective water works establiahed ; but ngain that desire has to be subordinated to other serious considerations -and they impel me to say that such a project is premature, and beyond onr present capabilities. Ulenheim is a large township, with but a comparatively small population Bcattmi'd all over it. It can contain,
without over-crowding, ton turn.'* iis present inhabitants; whilst tao uost of water works for its own population will be noarly as much as if it won; fully inhabited, thereby placing a. burden upon us which wo shall be unable to bear, and detoiring people from settling m it, at the same time diiving many of our best townspeople to live outside of the boundaries of the town. This has been the result m the fine township of Oamaru — -where tho aggregate lates are butweun fuor and live shillings m the pound. Therefore, however desirable, I consider it would be ruinous to undertake such works until we have at least doubled or trebled our numbers. Blenheim has neither endowments nor revenue, but all must come out of rates, which, though heavy, are at present inadequate for more pressing necessities. For domestic use few towns are so well off as Blenheim, as artesian wells are to be obtained everywhere m it, and at a trifling coat. Also for sanitary purposes it is favorably circumstanced. A weir four feet or thereabouts high being placed across the Omaka some few chains to tho south of the High street bridge, would raise the water sufficiently high to feed a principal covered drain (to be regulated by a sliding sluice board at the river end), and from the main drain, other smaller ones could bs gridironed and supplied with water sufficient to regularly flush the pipe sewers m the principal streets of the town. Against fires these drains might also he utilised.
Should, however, the requisite majority of the ratepayers have the temerity to decide upon obtaining waterworks, the scheme should be well considered. There are three already propounded, viz., the Holly plan ; the Taylor and the Wairau rivers gravitation system. The Holly plan, is, I apprehend too novel, and without the test of experience m New Zealand yet. As described, it is too complex and depending for its success upon nontingenciea that may not turn out as required, as for instance the great uncertainty, or improbability of obtaining an adequate supply of water from any artesian sinkings that might be undertaken. (In the late season our household artesian wells gave a diminished flow). While m addition the machinery would be liable to break down, and certain to wear out, and involves the constant expense of working, as well as the heavy wages of at least two competent engineers to attend to it constantly. In short, it is too new-fangled and hypothetical an experiment for Blenheim.
The gravitation system is thoroughly known and reliable. If properly planned and executed the work will last /or generations without further expense. But to obtain the supply of water from the Taylor river district, is wholly out of the question. There the rainfall-collecting-hills, are not precipitous, but rounded and hummocky ; and for upwards of thirty years have swarmed with pigs, and been clad with sheep whose droppings, •fee, have encrusted the entire surface and been trampled into the soil, inches deep. And as if this were not enough, there are now thousands npon thousands of dead rabbits, m all stages of rottenness, together with large quantities of poisoned grain scattered over those hills, the varied poisons from all of which every shower of rain washes down into the Taylor river, rendering its water not merely deleterious, but absolutely poisonous. For the future tbe same state of matters will doubtless continue.
Thea again, to procure water from the Wairau river near Rock Ferry, is objectionable on account of the distance and enormous expense ; and moreover from the heavy floods and the nature of the soil, the construction of a reservoir, ; there would be most difficult, if not impracticable.
But there is another source, although I am not aware of anyone having yet mentioned it, and that is the Omaka river. This river originates m the precipitous rocky mountain range that divides the Waihopai from the Awatere, and which range is snow-clad for a considerable portion ot the year. The water issuing thence is very pure ; and whatever solid impurities may come into it m its downward course, subside m the numerous deep holes m its bed which act as traps, while any floating impurities are either exhaled or filtered through the good many miles of shingle bed of its course, ere it reaches Dog Point, on a line with Renwicktown. The Omaka, at Dog Point, I am informed, has an altitude of about 300 feet above Blenheim ; but even half of this height would be equal to a perpendicular column of water 150 feet high, which would give an enormous pressure at Blenheim, and send the water above any of its highest buildings with powerful force. The ground near Dog Point is very suitable for constructing a reservoir, and all the required material except cement is on the spot. Also, there is an exhaustless amount of shingle, grit, and sand, suitable for forming graduated nitration beds, from Bhingle down to rough sand, for purifying; the water before reaching the reservoir. From Dog Point to Blenheim the distance may be between six and seven miles. The main piping required would consequently be much I less than m either the Taylor or Wairau river schemes. However, looking to the future, and the demand that would be sure to arise for water power for machinery m tho town, I would advocate, not less than a 12-inch pipe for the one-third of the distance next Blenheim, a 15-inch pipe for tho middle third, and an 18-inch pipe for the upper third next the roservoir. Thiß would always maintain a powerful head of water, and tho increase m diameter m the middle and uppor section pipes would not be attended with much, if any, increase m cost, as they could be cast proportionately thinner m metal than the 12-inch town end pipe, which would require to be thicker and very strong to resist the increased lateral or bursting pressure of the column of water. The saving m freight and carriage would also be considerable, as such sizos would telescope into each other.
But as Baid at tho beginning, I hopo no water scheme at present will bo undertaken, for tho population of Blenheim cannot hear it without boing crushed. General and vigilant insuranco againat fire is tho only alternative, and the augmented coat of that will be loss than a water rato aufliciont to make up tho interest on the loan for waterworks—even if we could obtain a loan — respecting which I have my doubts. ' 1 am, etc., James Sinclair. Blenheim, April 7th, 1885.
THE WATER SUPPLY QUESTION., Marlborough Express, Volume XXI, Issue 78, 8 April 1885
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