From the Richmond Dispatch, 1/31/1859, p. 2, c. 1

The Water Question

…Resuming the question of the proposition for increasing and improving the supply of water for city use. We repeat that Mr. ELLETT’S plan of a supply for a large portion of the city flowing from a high point in the canal, without the intervention of a pumping force and attendant expenses, is certainly the most economical that could be devised. We think his argument, showing that the supply would be wholesome, is conclusive. The only question in our own minds with regard to it is as to the means of filteration which Mr. E. has not developed.

But strong prejudices are aroused against this plan, and it may be that they may become irreconcilable. These prejudices, however, must operate as strongly against the propositions of Mr. Ellet and Messrs Gill and Davis for a prospective increase of supply by pumping the water from the canal to the reservoirs. Added to the full weight of water required by these plans from the canal to work the pumps. If, as is alleged, there will be sometimes too little water for a supply flowing through pipes to the lower part of the city, how is it to be expected that we shall get enough both for supply and for working the pumps! We do not acknowledge the force of the arguments against any of these projects; but merely present the case to those who urge them against one. – They rule out all the schemes and must look to other means.

Are there others? We may increase the supply by increasing the forcing power at the present location, if the water power be sufficient, and if not, by the use of steam. The supply being increased, we may be elevating a reservoir, building some new ones at proper places, and improving the system of distribution, by larger pipes, &c., diffuse the supply more generally and equally, so as to satisfy every body. We suppose that in this way the wants of the city may for a long time be accommodated, and we may leave to posterity the solution of the further problem of a still greater supply when these means fail.

Another plan we have heard of is projected by the intelligent and practical Superintendent of the Water Works, Mr. Davis. We shall not undertake to give its details, but merely the prominent features of it. This plan proposes the drawing of a supply from Gillie’s Creek, by a steam forcing pump located near the gas works at Rocketts, which are to supply fuel for the engine – the coke made in manufacturing the gas answering admirably for the purpose. To answer present purposes the water forced from the creek to be elevated to a column erected on Hospital Hill – this column to be tall enough to bring the water at its top to a level with the present reservoir. It is contended that the water thus elevated will produce a new and steadily maintained pressure from Hospital Hill (just beyond Church Hill) that will stop the constant drain from the elevated points on Shockoe Hill, and cause those points as well as those on Church Hill to be constantly supplied. At present it would be only necessary, it is supposed, to pump the water from Gillies’ Creek during the day time.

After a time, when the supply is deficient, a reservoir may be built on Hospital Hill, to hold any amount that may be deemed necessary. As to the capacity of the creek, we understand that its volume, ordinarily, is equal to 5000 gallons per minute, and that last summer, during the almost unprecedented drought of that season, the amount flowing along its bed, was equal to 1500 gallons per minute. The mill, located upon it at Rocketts, continues grinding throughout that remarkable drought.

We do not know the height of the elevation to which the water would have to be forced from this creek. The water itself is very pure, clear and soft. It would seldom, if ever, need to be filtered. The supply, if the data given us is accurate, is ample.

We hope the Council will get Mr. Davis’ plan before it. It is certainly worthy of examination. Mr. Davis’ good sense and reputation as a man of excellent practical judgment, would entitle any proposition of his to a respectful consideration.

Let us have all the plans and examine all. – Those who find none to suit them, ought to be able to present views of their own. Simply to attack, all will not do. More water, and a better distribution of it we must have. It will be edifying to those who revolt at one scheme at least to look into others if they have none of their own to offer.

Go to top