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Full text of "Remarks on the present project of the city government for supplying the inhabitants of Boston with pure soft water."

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REMARKS 



Present iproject of tl)c €\iu ©oDtrnmcnt, 



SUPPLYING THE INHABITANTS OP BOSTON 



PURE SOFT WATER. 



BY HENRY B. ROGERS. 



BOSTON: 

S. N. DICKINSON & CO., PEINTEES. 

184 5. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Boston Public Library 



http://www.archive.org/details/remarksonpresentOOroge 



REMARKS 



|)rc0cnt IProicct of tl)e €ita ©oocrnment, 



SUPPLYING THE INHABITANTS OF BOSTON 



PUEE SOFT WATER. 



BY HENRY B. ROGERS. 



BOSTON : 

8. N. DICKINSON & CO. PRINTERS. 

1845. 



The following Remarks were intended for the columns of a newspaper: 
but, on submitting them to the perusal of a friend, the writer was advised to 
publish them in the present form, and under his o^vn name. 



R E M A E K S 



The Act which has recently been obtained from the 
Legislature, for supplying the City with Pure Water, is 
soon to be submitted to the inhabitants, for approval ot 
rejection. Their action upon it will be final, and, more- 
over, will conclude interests of greater magnitude than any 
which have yet been affected by a popular vote, since the 
organization of the City Government. My connection 
with the Council, the past year, as a member of the Board 
of Aldermen, has necessarily given me some opportunities, 
not enjoyed by others, of forming a judgment upon the 
whole subject of the water movement ; and, as there are 
some indications that the public mind is now disposed to 
consider this matter with somewhat of the attention and 
calmness which its magnitude and importance imperiously 
demand, I am induced to make a few remarks upon its 
present character and position. 

Some of the projectors and zealous friends of Long 
Pond, have chosen to adopt the opinion, which they have 
been studious to enforce, as far as possible, that all persons 
who have opposed that project, or who, perceiving objec- 
tions to some portions of it, have desired further investiga- 
tion, are necessarily opposed to bringing water from 
abroad, from any source, and have no sympathy whatever 
for those among us who are deprived, in whole or in part, 
of this great blessing. 



\ 

\ 

\ 



The absurdity and injustice of such a belief, are obvious 
enough ; but its constant reiteration has, nevertheless, had 
its effect in misleading the public mind, and in preventing 
a free expression of thought upon the subject. No man 
likes to incur the public odium ; and, if the expression of 
an opinion against the Long Pond project is to enroll him 
among those who are set down as the inveterate enemies 
of all plans for water, human nature needs only to be 
consulted, to know that he will be seriously tempted to 
withhold it. One would imagine that the motives of 
those who differ, in respect to the relative advantages of 
the various schemes which have been brought forward, to 
obtain a common good, might, at least, be left unimpugned. 
Most assuredly, the true interests of all the inhabitants of 
Boston demand that the facts, reasonings, and objections 
of every man, should be carefully and candidly weighed ; 
and, especially, that all attempts to check inquiry, or to 
carry a particular measure, involving multifarious details 
and nice calculations, by creating a popular excitement, 
by noisy speeches, at Faneuil Hall or elsewhere, should 
at once be put down by the respectability and sobriety of 
the community. 

As I was unfortunately a candidate for Alderman, at 
some of the late city elections, it was to be expected that I 
should share the fate of others, in being, occasionally, 
pointed at, as opposed to supplying the city with water — 
any water. It will, therefore, be deemed not impertinent 
in me, to state my real views upon the subject. 

I am now, and for many years have been, in favor of 
bringing into the city, from abroad, a supply of water, of 
good quality, in sufficient quantity, from such sources, and 
upon such principles, as disinterested and competent men 
may, after due examination of the whole subject, in all its 
bearings, deem to be best. I am not aware of having any 
peculiar preferences for any particular plan, distinct from 



the facts which apply to it. I have no interest in the 
existing Boston Aqueduct Company, nor in any matter 
or thing which can be affected by one project or another. 
I pay a yearly tax of over four hundred dollars, which is 
fully my share; and I am willing to pay my proportion of 
any further sum, whether assessed pro rata, or for the 
water used, which may be rendered necessary, in order to 
procure and maintain such a supply. But I do not claim 
to have reached a degree of disinterestedness in this re- 
gard, beyond that of the great body of my fellow-towns- 
men ; for, from inquiry and observation, I am fully satis- 
fied, that the vast majority of our citizens, and including 
among them our men of competence, and our men of 
wealth, are equally disposed with myself, to accede cheer- 
fully to anything which the good of the inhabitants of the 
city, generally, can be shown to require upon this sub- 
ject. 

An extra supply of pure soft water is absolutely needed 
for the comfort and welfare of this city. Such a supply 
the great majority of our citizens are determined to have ; — 
and the necessary cost of furnishing it they are willing to 
pay for. These I take to be facts beyond dispute, and I 
shall therefore regard them as such. 

The real questions, then, to be considered, are — from 
whence is the water to come, and in what manner is it to 
be brought in ? 

Is Long Pond the best source of supply, and is the plan 
proposed by the Commissioners the safest, the wisest, and 
the most economical which can be devised for obtaining 
it ? The last question is the only one of practical impor- 
tance at this time, and we will therefore confine our 
principal attention to it. 

With regard to the project of Long Pond, I am not pre- 
pared to say, absolutely, that future and more extensive 
examinations may not satisfactorily prove it to be the best 



which can be adopted; but, after having faithfully read 
whatever has been written upon the subject of water, since 
the time it first occupied the public attention, and carefully 
endeavored to understand the bearings of all the facts and 
suggestions which have been brought out in relation to it, 
I am prepared to say, that, in my judgment, it ought not 
to be assented to by the citizens at the present time. 

The reasons which have led me to entertain this opinion, 
I will endeavor to unfold as briefly as possible. 



First, the City authorities, to whom are committed, by 
the Charter, all the municipal interests of the citizens, had 
not decided Long Pond to be the best source of supply, at 
the time the question was submitted to a popular vote ; and 
their subsequent action was the result of that vote, and not 
of their own convictions. 

The history of this matter is both curious and instruc- 
tive ; and the detail of some of the prominent facts may 
serve to show how far sound principles, or party preju- 
dices, and unwise zeal, have been the basis of past action. 

In the month of July last, a period of the year when 
many members of the Common Council are absent from 
the city, an order was introduced into that body, to raise a 
joint committee, to consist of one person from each ward, 
" to consider and report what measures, if any, may be 
adopted, to procure an abundant supply of pure soft water, 
for the use of the city." The order was passed, and came 
up to the Board of Aldermen, who concurred therein, and 
joined the Mayor and two others to the committee. In 
August, the joint committee made a report upon the sub- 
ject submitted to them. It closed with an Order, in sub- 
stance, that they have power to appoint three commissioners, 
who should report " the best mode, and the expense of 



bringing the water of Long Pond into the city ;" which 
passed in concurrence. The preamble of the report ex- 
pressed the opinion that Long Pond was the best and 
only practicable source of supply ; but this opinion was 
strongly objected to by some members, as wholly prema- 
ture. It was said, however, that the order only contem- 
plated an examination, and expressed no opinion ; that the 
vote was to be taken on the order; and, as in other cases, 
members were not presumed to be committed by the 
opinions or reasonings of the report. It was stated that 
the object was not to prevent any examination of other 
sources, but only to obtain a full estimate upon this, 
as one of the most prominent, and in respect to which 
there was less clear information than of the others. 
With this understanding the order passed. At the next 
meeting of the Board, however, a member, not feeling 
entirely satisfied with the course which had been taken, 
offered an explanatory resolve, which was, in substance : 
" that the order which had been previously passed, 
was not intended to be an expression by the Board, of 
any opinion, with regard to Long Pond being the best 
source of supply, and did not commit it in any way to 
that measure, or preclude it from examining other sources 
hereafter." This resolve passed, without objection, except- 
ing on the ground that it was unnecessary. 

Almost simultaneously with the introduction of the first 
order, viz : July 29th, 1844, a petition, signed by Walter 
Channing, Henry Williams, and others, was laid before 
the Board. It requested that a legal meeting of the inhab- 
itants of Boston might be called at Faneuil Hall, for the 
purpose of procuring a vote of the citizens, on the subject 
" of obtaining a supply of pure water, from Long Pond, in 
Framingham, for the use of the city." The objects con- 
templated by this petition were the same with those 
already proposed by the city authorities; and the effect of 



8 



granting it could only be to submit prematurely to popular 
action, a question which involved grave and enduring in- 
terests, that, by force of law, properly belonged to the city 
authorities to examine and pass upon, in the first instance, 
and which, indeed, they had already taken up. The pe- 
titioners, however, did not see fit to withdraw their petition, 
and it came up for action in regular course. It is believed 
that the Board were agreed as to the inexpediency of the 
measures proposed in this document, but some members 
considered that the 25th section of the city charter, which 
relates to public meetings at Faneuil Hall, makes it im- 
perative upon the Board to call a, general meeting at that 
place, of citizens qualified to vote in city affairs, whenever 
they are requested to do so by fifty qualified voters. The 
petition was therefore accepted, and the meeting ordered 
to be duly warned. The first meeting was held on the 
evening of September the third, and it was continued, by 
adjournment, from time to time, to the third day of De- 
cember last. Most of the meetings w6re thinly attended ; 
and, at some of them, there were not more than one hun- 
dred persons present; but their effect was to bias and 
agitate the public mind, and especially to interfere with a 
calm and careful consideration, by the City Council, of the 
important questions before them. 

Under this state of things, the Commissioners made their 
Report, bearing date November 9th. On the 14th of that 
month the Chairman of the joint Water Committee sub- 
mitted it to the Common Council, accompanied by a paper, 
containing a few very brief remarks on its merits, and pro- 
posing the following resolves for consideration, viz : — 

1st. That it is expedient for the City to begin and com- 
plete the necessary works for the introduction of a supply 
of pure water. 

2d. That it is expedient to draw the supply from Long 



9 



Pond, in the manner recommended by the Commission- 
ers appointed under the order of August 26, 1844. 

od. That it is expedient to begin the work as soon as 
the necessary powers can be obtained from the Legislature. 

4th. That it is expedient that the following question be 
submitted to the legal voters on the second Monday of 
December next — the citizens to vote in their respective 
Wards, yea or nay, viz : Are you in favor of procuring a 
supply of water for the City, to be brought and distributed 
at the expense of the city, from Long Pond, in Framing- 
ham, for the use of the inhabitants, on their paying therefor 
a reasonable compensation, to be fixed and established by 
a board of water commissioners ? 

The 1st resolution passed the Common Council; the 
2d, relating to the expediency of making Long Pond the 
source of supply, was amended, by inserting these words 
after the words "Long Pond :" " or such other sources as 
may hereafter be decided to be best." The 3d and 4th 
resolves were indefinitely postponed. In this state, the 
Report and accompanying resolves came up to the Board 
of Aldermen for their action. The 1st resolution was 
concurred in, and all the rest were indefinitely postponed. 
The Board rejected the 4th resolution, however, on the 
ground, that the question of calling general meetings of 
the inhabitants to vote upon the subject, was one which 
belonged exclusively, under the charter, to the Board of 
Aldermen, and ought not, therefore, to have been consid- 
ered by the Common Council. The objection was to- 
form, and not to substance. Accordingly, a new order, 
of similar import with that resolve as originally proposed, 
was immediately offered by a member, and, upon an 
amendment after the words Long Pond, in these words : 
" or from any other source which may hereafter be decided 
by the City Council to be best," it was passed. It will be 
2 



10 



perceived, then, that up to this time, the City Council had 
decided two things only. 

1st. That a supply of pure ivater, from some source 
without the city, ought to be introduced as soon as may 
be, and the necessary works commenced ; and, 

2d. That the citizens, on the second Monday of Decem- 
ber, should be requested to record their votes on the ques- 
tion, whether they were in favor of having the City under- 
take to bring in this water, either from Long- Pond or from 
any other source which it might hereafter decide to be best. 
In other words, the questions to be submitted to the people 
were — whether they wanted more water? and, whether they 
were willing that the City should decide hereafter from 
whence, and in what manner, it should be obtained ? 

Such was the state of things on the 27th of November. 
But it unfortunately happened, that the individual who 
offered the order which took the place of the 4th resolu- 
tion, appended to the Report, being pressed for time, and 
casting his eye over a newspaper which lay on his table, 
saw therein a resolution of similar import, which had been 
passed by the water meeting at Faneuil Hall. For con- 
venience sake, and, perhaps, thinking, at the same time, to 
please a body of citizens represented by that meeting, he 
cut it out and offered it to the Board as it was printed. 
During the discussion which ensued, another individual, 
instead of the words " from Long Pond, &c., or from any 
of the sources adjacent thereto," which it contained, 
moved, as a substitute, " from Long Pond, or from any 
other sources which may hereafter be decided by the City 
Council to be best ;" thus changing its character, and 
making it conformable to the decision of the Common 
Council. This very innocent procedure gave rise to a 
singular and unlocked for demonstration of popular 
feeling abroad, which, at one time, seemed to threaten 
most serious consequences. 



11 



At a meeting which was held December ' 3d, at 
Faneuil Hall, great offence was expressed at the step 
which had been taken by the City government in this 
matter. They were charged with daring to alter one 
of the resolutions which had been passed at a previous 
meeting ; and it was gravely stated that they were no 
better than they should be. Indeed, one prominent 
individual seemed to think that such things would 
not be permitted, even in the absolute government of 
England I His eloquence evidently roused the audience 
to a just sense of their danger, and many noisy and in- 
decorous speeches followed. Individual members of the 
Board of Aldermen were designated as being opposed to 
giving any water whatever to the thirsty citizens, and the 
audience was called upon to mark them at the polls. 
Men of standing and great respectability laid aside their 
usual courteousness and joined the general burst of indig- 
nation with heart and hand. The meeting, at one time, 
seriously threatened to take the whole water project into 
their own hands, and, by their sole authority, assemble the 
citizens to vote upon their resolutions at Faneuil Hall. 
One gentleman, however, calmer than the rest, facetiously 
proposed to administer a pill to the diseased and suffering 
Aldermen, in the first place, and then, if that was found 
ineffectual, he was for trying a bolus. In consequence of 
this suggestion, a motion was made to send a Committee 
from their body to state their grievances to the Board, and 
to wait the result for further action ; and this course was 
finally adopted. 

This Committee had a hearing the next day ; at which, 
after appropriate apologies for some degree of excitement 
on the evening before, they, in very courteous and respect- 
ful language, expressed the views and wishes of the meet- 
ing by which they were appointed. Their petition was. 
referred to a Committee, to consider and report ; and they 
taking into consideration the then excited state of the pub ; 



13 

lie mind and all the attendant cireumstances, after a very 
full statement of the past views and action of the Board, 
yielded so far to the wishes of the petitioners as to recom- 
mend that the resolutions passed at the Faneuil Hall meet- 
ing, should be submitted to the vote of the citizens, to- 
gether with those which had been adopted by the City 
Council. Their recommendation was accepted; and the 
two sets of resolutions, which differed from each other 
only in respect to the source of supply — those of the City 
being unlimited^ whilst those of the Faneuil Hall meeting 
were restricted to Long Pond and its vicinity — were placed 
in their order on one ballot. 

It will be distinctly kept in mind, then, that up to the 
time of taking the vote, the City government bad not de- 
cided Long Pond to be the best source of supply, nor even 
expressed any formal opinion upon it. And it will also be 
noted, that it was only in consequence of the urgent re- 
quest of some four or five hundred citizens, assembled at 
Faneuil Hall, the leaders of whom had for several months 
been striving to create a party movement in favor of one 
particular plan — and for the purpose of avoiding further 
excitement and preventing greater injury — that the Board 
of Aldermen consented to submit this particular question 
of Long Pond to the vote of the inhabitants. 

The vote was taken, December 9th, on one ballot, but 
different answers to the question proposed were made and 
distributed, to suit the wishes of the various parties. The 
ballots which shaped the answers in favor of Long Pond, 
seemed, however, to have the first place in the regards of 
those who were most active as distributors ; and unwea- 
ried efforts were made to induce the citizens, as they came 
to the polls, to put them into the ballot-box. Indeed, I 
know not how it happened, but, by some strange fatuity, 
the ballots which had been prepared for those who were 
willing to leave the whole matter to the City government, 



13 



seemed, in certain places, to have suddenly disappeared 
from the rooms where they had been originally deposited. 
In my own Ward, I was put to some trouble to find the 
ballot I wanted ; but at last I fortunately stumbled upon 
some lying in a corner, under a huge pile, smelling strongly 
of Long Pond. The result of the ballot was a vote of 
6,260 yeas in favor of Long Pond as the source of supply ; 
about 8,500 persons voted on the question ; and about 
11,000, who weve legally authorized, did not see fit to 
vote at all. 

It should have been stated previously, as a part of the 
history of this matter, that fourteen days before the time 
assigned for taking the vote on the resolutions, the City 
Council had ordered " seven thousand copies of the Re- 
port of the Water Commissioners appointed under an 
order of the City Council, March 16, 1837, to be printed 
and distributed for the use of the inhabitants." This report 
examined various sources of suppl}"^, and recommended 
Spot and Mystic Ponds. We do not say that it was de- 
signedly suppressed ; but by some strange mischance, for 
which that redoubtable personage introduced to us by Mr. 
Dickens under the familiar name of " The Lord No Zoo," 
is alone accountable, it was not printed and distributed 
until so}ne days after the vote had been taken. 

Such are some of the facts in the history of the water 
question, as they have appeared to me. They seem to 
justify the belief that, previous to examination, and before 
any decision, as to the best source of supply, by the city 
authorities, a strong party movement was gotten up in 
favor of one particular project ; and, in consequence of 
the excitement and prejudice engendered by this move- 
ment, that the appropriate action of the City government 
was weakened and interrupted, and the public mind 
placed in such a position as to render it incapable of un- 
derstanding the true position of things, or of arriving at 



14 



a sound conclusion in respect to the questions submitted 
to its decision. 

By the charter and under the laws, all the municipal 
interests of the citizens are entrusted exclusively to the 
City Council, annually elected by them. We believe 
that this is the only mode in which these interests can be 
secured, or a government of law and order be permanently 
maintained ; and it is certainly an extraordinary, as well as 
a mournful fact, that citizens of wealth and influence 
should be willing to lend their weight of character to 
measures which tend to interrupt the calmness and impar- 
tiality of the public councils, or to call in question the ex- 
ercise of their lawful authority. Should their own exam- 
ple be followed, no persons, probably, would have more 
reason than they, to regret the disastrous consequences 
which must inevitably flow from such a course of proce- 
dure. And especially, in a matter of such magnitude as 
the water question — incapable, as it is, of being set right 
when once decided wrongly, and involving in its conse- 
quences, as it must, the interests, not only of the present 
inhabitants, but of their children and successors — it is es- 
sential that the City Council should be permitted, under 
the responsibilities imposed upon them by the charter and 
the laws, to come to a definite conclusion with regard to 
the source and mode of supply, uninfluenced by any 
popular or party action. And, indeed, until the City 
Council have arrived at some definite result, through ex- 
tended examination and thorough consideration of the 
whole subject, in all its details and bearings, and have re- 
commended to the citizens certain measures, with their 
reasons for them, it would seem to be wholly inexpedient 
and improper to submit the question to a popular vote. 

Under the circumstances, we consider the result of the 
vote on the water question sufficient ground for belief, that 
the citizens are desirous of obtaining an additional supply 



15 



of good water; but we deny that it is proof of anything 
else. The facts above recited, the excitement created, the 
party influences exerted, the number and length of the 
questions submitted, and the prevailing ignorance as to 
the true position of things in the City Council, are ample 
evidence that the vote is no indication of the preference 
of the inhabitants for one source of supply over another. 
And it ought not so to be regarded ; for the great majority 
must have voted in ignorance, or through the influence 
of others. 

A few more words will end the history we have under- 
taken. Another Report from the Joint Water Committee 
was introduced, Dec. 29th, into the Common Council. It 
stated, in substance, that the City, by a large majority, had 
decided in favor of Long Pond, as a source of supply ; 
and had instructed and advised the City Council to take 
immediate steps to bring it in ; that the present Council 
was more familiar with the subject than the next could 
possibly be for some time to come ; that, before a future 
Council could act advisedly in the matter, make an appli- 
cation to the Legislature, and await the time necessary for 
the serving of an order of notice upon parties in interest, 
that body would have risen ; and it finally closed with 
offering for adoption the y?rs^ resolution, which had already 
been voted for by the citizens ; and an accompanying 
order, that the Mayor be instructed to make immediate 
application to the Legislature for a charter under it. 

The resolution and order were passed after some de- 
bate. Before the ground be taken, that this vote was an 
expression by the City Council, in favor of Long Pond, 
the circumstances under which it was passed should be 
distinctly brought into view. Our city election had already 
taken place, and no Mayor, and but three Aldermen had 
been elected ; the Council of 1844 was just going out of 
office ; the people had voted not to leave the question to 



16 



the decision of the City government ; and it was evident 
that unless ap)Dlication were made for a charier by the ex- 
isting Council, none could be obtained for a year to come, 
even though the next Council should, on further examina- 
tion, come to an independent opinion, that Long Pond 
was the best source. Under this state of things some of the 
members took the ground that the City was bound by the 
vote which had been taken; others that, at any rate, it was 
their duty to place the subject matter in such a shape that 
the next Council, if they should determine Long Pond to 
be the best source, might go on and accomplish their 
wishes ; which they could not do, unless a charter were 
asked for under the resolution which had been submitted 
to the people, and adopted by them. 

It was for these, or similar reasons, that the City go- 
vernment finally adopted the course alluded to above ; 
and not for the reason that they had to come to any more 
definite opinion as to Long Pond, as a source of supply. 



Second, The Commissioners, who were appointed the 
last year, did not decide that Long Pond was the best 
source of supply for the city. 

They were appointed for no such purpose; their instruc- 
tions being only to report " the best mode and the expense " 
of bringing in water from that source. Consequently, 
they examined no other source, and had no data before 
them for forming an opinion as to its comparative excel- 
lence. But it may be said, that though this be true, some 
of them have, notwithstanding, at various times, examined 
other sources, and are understood to entertain a decided 
preference for Long Pond. 

With regard to this we have two answers to make. 

1st. It is one thing to have a strong prepossession in 



17 



favor of a particular project, and quile another thing, to 
take the responsibility of deciding for or against it, under 
a full conviction that all the consequences of a failure of 
judgment will fall upon our own heads. Now this feel- 
ing of responsibility is just what is wanted to give weight 
to the opinion ; but the commissioners have not assumed 
it, and were not called upon to assume it; and, conse- 
quently, should the plan prove unfortunate, they will not 
be held accountable. 

They may justly say, you asked us merely for a plan 
and estimate upon Long Pond, but we gave no opinion as 
to the propriety of the selection, or the wisdom of expend- 
ing so much money upon it. It is not our fault if it have 
not answered your anticipations. The judgment, there- 
fore, of the Commissioners, if they have expressed one 
privately, is not worth much, because it has not been ex- 
pressed under a sense of responsibility. A man naturally 
Inclines to be favoral^le towards a project which promotes 
his interest ; it is only when he feels that his opinion is to 
involve the interests of the community, as ^vell as his own 
fame, that it becomes of much value. But 

2d. The supposition is not entirely true. One of the 
Commissioners has, under oath, declared, that, in his 
opinion, further investigation is desirable. Another has 
long been a zealous advocate for Long Pond ; but, from 
his former prejudices, he is not the most suitable person 
to have been selected for the last Commission ; and, 
besides, his opinion is opposed to that of all those who 
had previously been employed to examine it. As to the 
third, if he be now in favor of Long Pond, he was in 1837 
and 1838, as strongly in favor of Spot and Mystic Ponds ; 
and that, too, under greater responsibility, since he was 
then called upon, officially, for his opinion. Mr. Hale 
was recently employed by the City, to report the best 
3 



IS 



mode and expense of bringing water from Long Pond. 
He performed the duty assigned to him ; but during its 
progress, and before the government which employed him 
had opportunity to examine his Report, or come to a 
decision upon the subject matter, he undertook, as an 
editor of a daily paper, to forestall public opinion upon it ; 
thus interfering with the free and unembarrassed action of 
the party whos6 agent he was. 



T/iird, "Whatever evidence there is on record, upon the 
subject of water, is not in favor of Long Pond, but of 
other sources of supply. 

Daniel Treadwell made the first Report as a Com- 
missioner, in 1825. He offered two plans; one for 
Charles River, and another for Spot Pond. Loammi 
Baldwin made the second Report in 1834. He went 
into a general examination of a large number of sources ; 
and gave a great amount of information upon the whole 
subject of water and water-works, in various countries, and 
in ancient and modern times. But he rejected Long Pond, 
on " account of its loiv level and the great expense of effect- 
ing a discharge from it" and presented a plan for bringing 
a supply from Farm and Shakum Ponds, which were of 
a considerably higher level. In 1837, three Commis- 
sioners, Daniel Treadwell, Nathan Hale, and James F. 
Baldwin, made a very long Report upon various sources, 
and decided strongly in favour of Spot Pond ; with the 
understanding that, when this source should prove insuf- 
ficient, an additional supply might be drawn, by pumping, 
from Mystic Pond. Mr. Baldwin dissented from this 
opinion, and, for the first time, proposed Long Pond. In 
1838, these same Commissioners made an additional Re- 
port, reaffirming their former opinion, and strengthening 
it by new suggestions. 



19 



In 1836, H. H. Eddy made a Report, which was also 
published. It coincides entirely with the opinion of the 
majority of the Commissioners, and presents many new 
facts and estimates. In 1838, Mr. Eddy made an addi- 
tional Report of similar character. In 1839, the City 
government, after a long and thorough debate, decided in 
favour of Spot and Mystic Ponds, and made application 
to the Legislature for a Charter ; but, in consequence of 
embarrassments met with there, the plan was abandoned. 
In the same year, His Honor the Mayor, Samuel A. Eliot^ 
reported strongly in favor of Spot and Mystic Ponds ; and 
urged the propriety of the immediate prosecution of that 
project, by a variety of arguments. 

In 1844, Patrick Jackson, Nathan Hale, and James F. 
Baldwin presented, as Commissioners, an estimate " of the 
best mode and expense of bringing water from Long Pond;" 
but gave no opinion as to the expediency of selecting that 
source, or of adopting the plans necessarily connected with it. 

Such is the evidence against the project of Long Pond, 
drawn from the past and recent history of what has been 
done in relation to water, under municipal authority. 

But this, it will be said, is not conclusive. The present 
plan may be a good one, notwithstanding so many expe- 
rienced persons, who at various times have been employed 
to investigate the subject, have failed to see it. It will be 
admitted, however, that very strong evidence may justly 
be required to overcome the cumulative testimony thus 
presented. 

We will, therefore, consider the project of Long Pond 
by itself : — And we say, 



Fourth, That, as set forth in the Report of the Water 
Commissioners for 1844, it is liable to objections of so 
serious a character, as to justify the inhabitants of Boston 



20 



in refusing to sanction it, until further and more satisfac- 
tory examinations and estimates have been iTiade. 



"VYe do not say, as before remarked, that it may not 
hereafter be satisfactorily proved to be, on the whole, 
the best plan ; but we maintain that the evidence in its 
favor is not noiu sufficiently strong to warrant its imme- 
diate acceptance. AVhen this shall be the case, we shall 
most cheerfully vote for it ; and we contend that, in a 
matter involving such deep present and future interests, a 
delay of a few months, or even years, is of little conse- 
quence, provided it be the means of arriving at last at a 
satisfactory result. 

We will now briefly state some of these objections. 

1st. There is a difficulty in the Report itself. 

It throws us back upon the Report of 1837. In fact, 
it is substantially a mere second edition of that Report, 
without its argument; but revised and corrected in cer- 
tain particulars. It sheds no new light upon the subject, 
and pretends to little or no new investigation. It pre- 
sents almost verbatim, the general plan for Long Pond, 
found in that Report, with its details of quantity and 
quality of water, and mode and cost of construction and 
distribution. And yet, when we turn to the Report of 
1827, and the supplementary one of 1838, we find that 
the majority of the three Commissioners, two of whom 
are the same individuals who made the Report of 1844, 
deliberately reject this plan for Long Pond, and propose 
another and a different one ! The reason assigned for 
this is, indeed, that the population, since 1837, has increas- 
ed in a ratio of twenty-five per cent, and, consequently, 
that it is proper to provide for a daily supply of 250,000 
persons, instead of 150,000, the basis of the former report. 



21 



But no facts are gone into to show whether the amount 
requh-ed may not, with more certainty, and at less cost, be 
drawn from Spot and Mystic Ponds. The Commis- 
sioners, indeed, are not to blame for this, for they were 
confined, by the terms of their Commission, to the consi- 
deration of Long Pond ; but the result is, that we are, after 
all, left in a most disagreeable state of doubt, as to whether 
the same facts and reasonings, whjch compelled the Com- 
missioners so decidedly to prefer Spot and Mystic Ponds, 
to Long Pond, in 1837, when 150,000 persons were to be 
provided for, do not apply with equal force when the pro- 
vision is to be for 250,000 persons ; especially, since the 
fact is well ascertained that the quantity of water in the 
two ponds, gi'eatly exceeds that in Long Pond. 

In the Report of 1837, it is said, that, on a calculation 
for a supply of more than 3,619,000 gallons, " we should 
find that this excess in the cost of works of Lojig- Pond, 
with accumulated interest, ivould be fully equal to the sum 
required to increase the supply from Mystic Pond.''^ 

If this be true, then, all the other arguments in favor of 
Spot and Mystic Ponds, in the Report of 1837, are as 
good and sound in 1844 as they were in 1837. 

2d. The Report of 1844 takes for granted that 7,000,000 
gallons of water are required for Boston, but it does not 
attempt to prove it. 

The propriety of going twenty-four miles to obtain a 
supply of water is founded entirely on this one fact, and 
yet it is not examined with any degree of care. The 
Report does not go into the evidence of the experience of 
other cities, and from rigid analysis, come to this conclusion, 
but it jumps at it. It does not consider the extremely 
important question, whether there are any circumstances 
in the peculiar position or habits of this city, or in the 
amount of supply which it already possesses, to vary the 



n 



result arrived at, from a comparison of the evidence present- 
ed in the experience of other places. It says merely, that 
" 28 1-2 gallons per day, for each person, so far as their 
knowledge extends, has been generally regarded as fully 
sufficient." Undoubtedly it is, and especially if it be to be 
paid for by those who use it. 

It is true that no reasonable man will object to quantity 
of ivater as such. But he may, and with great reason, 
object to going double the distance and paying treble the 
cost, for the sake of procuring a quantity which is gi-eater 
than he can possibly use, and particularly when a suffici- 
ent quantity, at a moderate rate, is close to his own door. 
If he be called upon to pay for water, he will be very apt 
to calculate pretty nicely, both how much he has on hand, 
and what additional quantity he will probably want. 

Now,'we maintain that the evidence of other cities does 
not prove that each individual consumes, on an average, 
28 1-2 gallons of water a day. 

Published Reports on this subject show, that in London, 
the average consumption, for each person, is 21 gallons 
a day ; in Liverpool, 8 2-3 gallons ; in Glasgow, 26 1-2 
gallons ; in Manchester, 11 1-2 gallons ; in Edinburgh, 
16 gallons; in Greenock, 15 gallons; and the mean of 
the whole is about 15 gallons. In France, from 5 to 10 
gallons for each person, is considered a full supply ; and if 
the whole number of inhabitants in London is compared 
with the quantity of water brought in by the several 
water companies, the average above set down at 28 1-2 
gallons, will be reduced to about 18. In Philadelphia, the 
Commissioners say the average supply is 28 1-2 gal- 
lons a day ; we believe this to be incorrect. In one of the 
official statements, indeed, it would appear that 18,000 and 
odd tenants took about 300,000 gallons; which would 
give this amount to each member of a family of six per- 
sons. But it should be recollected, that this, after all, is 



23 



but poor evidence of the quantity of water actually con- 
sumed by each ; for these tenants are merely the parties 
who pay for the water, and, in fact, they may represent 
six or twenty other persons who use it. From other offi- 
cial statements it appears that the pumps at the Fairmount 
water works had, in 1837, a capacity of delivering 4,2 16,000 
gallons per day, and that the population of the city and 
districts was 225,000 persons, who were fully supplied 
with water. 

We conclude, therefore, that the mean supply to each 
inhabitant did not exceed 18 gallons per day, and probably 
fell short of it. 

In New York there are few data from which the quantity 
of water used a day can be correctly estimated. But from 
what we have been able to gather from one of the chief 
engineers, employed upon the Croton water works, we are 
of opinion, that the average quantity is not over 18 gallons 
a day ; and he distinctly stated that, in his opinion, full 
one half of what was drawn from the pipes was wasted 
or misused. 

But further, even if 28 1-2 gallons are required in 
Philadelphia, it by no means follows that an equal amount 
is necessary in Boston. 

The Commissioners seem to have taken it for granted 
that Boston has no water within its precincts whatsoever ; 
and, accordingly, they have thought proper to provide a 
full supply for 120,000 persons, the actual number of 
inhabitants, and then to make additional provision for 
130,000 persons who are not yet in being, but who may be 
expected to appear in the course of some half century 
hence. They have forgotten that there are wells, cisterns, 
and other artificial sources of supply already existing. 
And yet, the great fact has all along been staring them in 
the face, that there are 115,000 persons who have actually 
lived in the city the past year, without dying from thirst, 
and that they were bound in some way to account for it. 



24 



Now, this is passing strange. There have, indeed, been 
serious complainls of the want of water, but, still, the un- 
doubted truth is, that every man has obtained enough for 
his daily necessities, and the vast majority for their reason- 
able uses. Has this no bearing upon the additional supply 
which may be needed, and Were not the Commissioners 
bound to allow for it ? We deem the course pursued 
wrong in principle and unwise in policy. 

If narrow minded views are to be overcome, and unan- 
imity obtained on this subject, it can only be done by 
looking all the facts boldly in the face, and making just 
allowance where allowance is required. 

The Boston Aqueduct Corporation, it is well ascertained, 
can and will, if permitted to do so, fully supply, at its own 
cost, 30,000 persons, with the best water that can be pro- 
cured anywhere. 

Many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been 
expended by the inhabitants for wells and cisterns, and 
there can be no doubt that the quantity of water contained 
in them is equal, at least, to a full supply for 40,000 persons 
more. 50,000 persons, therefore, remain to be provided 
for, and a reasonable allowance must be made for increase 
in the population. 

But, it is said, that the well water is bad. Grant that it 
is so — this is no reason for rejecting the cistern and the 
aqueduct water, or, indeed, the well, excepting for domestic 
purposes. At my own house I have a well, but have been 
unable to get a drop of good water from it for five years. 
In consequence, I have had constructed in my cellar, a 
filtering cistern, which contains about fifty hogsheads of 
water, and though my family consists of eight individuals, 
and I use a bath, a water closet, and a furnace which 
consumes about eight gallons of water daily, and have, 
moreover, washing done in the family, I have not, during 
this period, excepting once for a few days, and this in 



25 



consequence of a leak, been without a full supply of good 
clear soft water. For drinking, though I like the filtered 
water as well, we obtain a pail full from a neighbor. And 
this is the case, I venture to say, in many hundreds of fam- 
ilies in this city. The truth is, the heavens, in our climate, 
contain a great deal of water; they supply Long Pond, 
and with a little care, their outpourings may be brought 
directly into any man's house, without travelling twenty- 
four miles in a brick tunnel. Proper applications will free 
them from the impurities which they contract on our roofs. 

Again, the assertion so unblushingly made, that there is 
little well water in this city, and that what there is is 
intolerably bad, is quite as unjust and untrue as the pretence 
that it is all of the best quality, and that there is no demand 
for more. Good will not come from making false issues 
either way. There is, undoubtedly, a great quantity of 
well water here, or every man, woman, and child could not 
have drank and used more or less of it every day as they 
have done. 

The great consumption for domestic purposes has un- 
doubtedly been from this source, and, till very recently, it 
has been sufficient, at least, for the necessities of the people. 

Most of it is somewhat impregnated with lime, and 
much of it is brackish and unwholesome. Still, since the 
general health of the inhabitants, as well as the duration of 
life, both now and in times past, will compare very favor- 
ably with what is enjoyed in any other city of equal size, 
nothwithstanding our variable climate, there does not 
appear to be any sound reason for supposing, as many 
are inclined to do, that the quality of the water has had 
any seriously injurious effect upon the human constitution. 
The facts would rather go to confirm the common remark, 
that in the good providence of God, the human constitution 
has a wonderful power of accommodating itself to the 
peculiar trials to which it is subjected ; and, consequently, 
4 



26 



that it is by no means safe to draw sweeping conclusions 
from a few data, which we do not fully understand, and 
which do not seem to be borne out by palpable facts 
that are well ascertained. Our well water is generally 
clear, and always cool ; long habit has accustomed the 
inhabitants to it, and it is not to be doubted that great 
numbers of them would not abandon its use, whether 
wholesome or not, for the best pond water in the world. 

Neither is it to be imagined that the vast capital which 
has been expended upon cisterns, will be readily thrown 
aside, unless better water can be obtained without cost ; 
for people do not easily give up practices to which they 
have been accustomed from their youth. 

In Philadelphia, with few or no good wells, with 
a hot summer climate, and with habits long established in 
the use of hydrants, it took fourteen years to introduce 
2,255,000 gallons of water a day, among a population 
varying from 150,000 to 225,000 persons. Most certainly, 
therefore, in our climate, with our habits, and, especially 
with our present supply, there can be no sound reason to 
suppose it will not take an equal, if not a much greater 
length of time, to introduce an equal quantity. 

But there is another characteristic of our City, which has 
an important bearing on the quantity of water which will 
be needed. Boston is set on a hill ; the drainage is all 
under ground ; water, therefore, is not wanted with us, as 
in Philadelphia and New York, to wash and carry off the 
filth, constantly accumulating in the gutters and streets. 
Every rain washes the pavement more perfectly than 
could be done by artificial means. 

From these several considerations, we are inclined to 
think that the quantity of water, supposed to be necessary 
for each inhabitant, by the Commissioners of 1844, is 
greatly exaggerated. 

In our opinion, the facts warrant the belief, that an ad- 
ditional quantity of ten gallons a day, for each individual, 



27 



would be an ample present supply, and that twenty gal- 
lons would be a liberal allowance for each new comer, 
when the population shall exceed its present number. 

There is reason, also, to doubt the necessity or expe- 
diency of providing now for the wants of a population 
more than double our present one. For, though the city 
is undoubtedly increasing with great rapidity, we question 
whether the demand for water will be in proportion to its 
future growth. If a multitude of new houses are going 
up in new places, it is equally true that a great many old 
ones are disappearing, to make way for stores and places 
of business. The surrounding country is peculiarly invit- 
ing; the facilities of communication are so great and so 
cheap, as to make every place, within ten or fifteen miles 
of Boston, almost a suburb; and there are various other 
considerations, applicable to the subject, which render it 
more than probable, that, though the city may be the place 
of business in thirty or fifty years, of 250,000 persons, the 
actual population, resident within it, may fall greatly short 
of this number. 

It is very certain, that a large water debt, of four or five 
millions, in addition to other annual expenditures, will 
have a strong tendency to induce many persons to avail 
of the cheaper and more healthful localities in their neigh- 
bourhood. 

3d. But the Eeport of 1844 does not prove that Long 
Pond is capable of supplying, with certainty, seven mil- 
lion gallons of water a day. 

From this Report, it appears that the minimum produce 
of the pond is sometimes reduced as low as 1,230,000 
gallons a day ; and that the average supply, from the 30th 
of August to the 15th October, was about 3,600,000 gal- 
lons, a little more than half the quantity required. The 
minimum of Spot Pond has been found to be 1,600 000 



28 



gallons ; and the average, in 1836, for seven months, was 
three millions. Long Pond, then, by itself, and as it isy 
would not answer the purpose. 

By what mode, then, is it proposed to make it yield 
seven million gallons? Not by bringing into it any new 
supply from other sources, but by reserving, by artificial 
means, the surplus water, over and above seven million 
gallons a day, which is supposed to fall from the skies 
during the rainy months of the year, or run into it from 
streams and brooks. In other words, the plan is to raise 
the dam at the outlet, which will prevent the water from 
running out, and throw it back upon the now dry and 
low lands in the vicinity The necessity of this is 
apparent from what has already been stated ; and, 
moreover, is very strikingly exemplified by the further 
fact, that the proprietor of a woollen factory, hard by, 
who has the sole use of all the waters of Long Pond, 
has found them so insufficient to drive his one water 
wheel during the year, as to induce him to purchase the 
right to flow a portion of the surrounding country, and to 
raise his dam, for the purpose of securing a full supply for 
himself. But this plan is objectionable on two grounds : 

1st. It is not easy to tell, beforehand, what the result of 
the process may be. The water, and especially when the 
reserve must be sufficient to a supply for several months, 
of three and a half million gallons a day, may flood 
more land than was anticipated, and thereby occasion 
great loss and damage. Or it may take some unexpected 
direction, and be wasted, or disappear through unsuspected 
chinks and crevices. All writers upon the subject main- 
tain that flowage is attended with much uncertainty, and 
has often led to curious results. 

2d. There no security that the quality of the water may 
not be injuriously affected by the process. The lands to 
be flowed are covered with vegetable and decayed matter, 
and it seems that the meadow principally in view, is com- 



29 



posed of peat. What will be the effect produced on a 
mass of water, a few feet only in depth, stagnating upon 
it, no man can predict. But we know that vegetable mat- 
ter is highly pernicious. The cranberry meadows, on the 
Concord River, have been objected to on this ground ; and 
the Middlesex Canal is said to be obstructed by vege- 
table substances, which require annual removal. We 
might say something, also, of the evaporation which must 
take place upon so large a surface of shallow water, and 
which, in the case of Jamaica Pond, has been found to 
exceed any draft which has been made upon it by the 
Aqueduct Corporation. This consideration is entitled to 
unusual weight, when we remember that, in consequence 
of the very low level of Long Pond, its waters are to be 
taken from a point only four feet eleven inches below the 
surface at the gateway, and therefore should the draft on 
them reduce the level by this amount, no water whatever 
would flow to Boston. At Spot Pond, the water can be 
taken fourteen feet below the general level of the pond, 
and, consequently, it will admit of being drawn down to 
that point in dry seasons. This is a great advantage, as it 
allows for evaporation and draft without recourse to arti- 
ficial means ; and, in fact, makes the pond larger than 
Long Pond, provided the rainy months will serve to 
restore the level. 

4th. The aqueduct is to be laid with an inclination of 
three inches only to a mile. 

This is rendered necessary by the low level of the sur- 
face. Now, we do not say that a supply of eleven feet of 
water a second may not be obtained through such a de- 
scent, though we know of one experienced engineer who 
doubts the fact. But we do say, that it is almost unpre- 
cedented in practice — that it requires a larger aqueduct 
than would otherwise be expedient — that it must be laid 
with the greatest nicety, being neither more nor less than 



three inches descent : and that no engineer mould adopt it, 
except from necessity. 

The inclination required for the flowing of water is in 
proportion to the width of conduit. The aqueduct of 
Nisrnes has a descent of over two feet per mile ; that of 
Metz of five feet ; those of Rome are various, but gene- 
rally not less than afoot and a half; that of New York is 
thirteen inches. We know of no aqueducts of the small 
inclination proposed, excepting the New River at London, 
and a recent aqueduct in France; but, in both these cases, 
the body of water is believed to be much larger. Whether 
the descent from Corey's Hill to the City be sufficient to 
raise the water to the level of the floor of the State House, 
we are not engineers enough to decide ; but, from in- 
formation gathered from others, we presume it will be, if 
properly managed. The effects, however, upon a head of 
water, produced by tapping and drawing off", are curious. 
The surface of the water, in the distributing reservoir at 
New York, is stated to be one hundred and fifteen feet 
above mean tide, and three miles distant from the Astor 
House, and yet the water will only rise freely to the third 
story of that house, about seventy feet, and the proprietors 
are under the necessity of using a steam engine to dis- 
tribute it over the building. 

5th. The mode by which the Commissioners propose 
to bring the water to Corey's Hill is imperfect, and in 
striking contrast wnth the Croton aqueduct. 

A brick drain, one single brick thick — eight inches — 
and without foundation or protection, is not, certainly, a 
magnificent affair ; but it is proposed to make it the sole 
dependence of Boston for water. The slightest settling 
or fracture, from any cause, would destroy the whole 
supply. At the Croton aqueduct, a solid foundation is 
first made with concrete ; then side walls are constructed 



31 



of square stones, rough hammered, and so bedded in 
cement, as to render the work water-tight ; then a coating 
of plaster, three eighths of an inch thick, over the surface 
of the concrete, and of the walls. The top is then covered 
with an arch of brick, eight inches thick, laid in cement ; 
and, lastly, the side walls and bottom are lined with a 
facing of eight inch brick work, also laid in cement. In 
the Long Pond aqueduct, all but the inner brick layer is 
omitted ; to the very great advantage of the pockets of the 
people in the first cost, but whether for their real good in 
the end, time only can determine. The work appears to 
us to be so slight and insignificant, that we can hardly 
persuade ourselves it will ever be practically carried out. 
Should the project go on, we should certainly not be sur- 
prised to learn, that the engineers had concluded, upon 
the whole, to make a few slight changes in the construc- 
tion, which would vary the pecuniary result some hun- 
dreds of thousands of dollars. We know that there is no 
head to resist, and that the weight of water is trifling ; but 
we know, also, that there must be many casualties to be 
guarded against, and we are of opinion, that, in a work 
like this, nothing should be left to uncertainty. Indeed, 
the Commissioners themselves seem to confirm this 
opinion ; for, in their Report of 1837, signed by two of 
them, and in which they propose a similar structure, they 
say: "We have no doubt but such a conduit maybe con- 
structed from Long Pond to Corey's Hill, which shall be 
as much beyond the reach of interruption in its operation, 
as any work of human art can be beyond the reach of 
accident. We cannot pretend, however, that the cost 
given in our estimate ($13,000 less than that in the Report 
of 1844) is sufficient to produce a work of this permanent 
and perfect character ; and we should not think it expedient 
to increase the expenditure beyond the limits of our esti- 
mate, as the object of supply may be obtained, upon either 
of the above plans, with more advantage to the City, than 



32 



by this, — if its execution must be at an expense beyond 
that ivhich we have assigned to it.''' 

Another serious objection to the plan of the works is, 
that it proposes a supply, at the reservoir at Corey's Hill, 
sufficient only for one day. Should, therefore, any acci- 
dent happen to the structure between that point and the 
head, Boston would be left without water ; a most serious 
evil, unless the present resources of the city are greater 
than the Commissioners allow them to be. The receivinar 
and distributing reservoirs at New York have a full sup- 
ply for one third of a million of inhabitants, for twenty- 
five days, and the fountain reservoir for three months. 

6th. The Report of 1844 is not very satisfactory in re- 
spect to the cost of the work. 

The sum total of the estimate is $2,118,535 83 ; of 
which amount ^672,767,000 is for the distribution in the 
City itself. The estimates for excavation and embank- 
ment are for fair-weather work, and, therefore, cannot be 
depended upon ; for the Commissioners expressly state, 
" that they have no satisfactory evidence as to the charac- 
ter of the earth to be removed in the deep cuts ; " nor, pro- 
bably, of the quantity of rock to be blown out. Indeed, 
no minute investigation of the character of the ground on 
the route appears to have been made. 

The estimate for the aqueduct is upon a brick conduit, 
of the character we have above described, and is, there- 
fore, probably very much below the sum which would 
actually be incurred. 

The damages for land at Long Pond, — for the line of 
the aqueduct, — for the reservoir at Corey's Hill, — for the 
line of pipes to Boston and South Boston, — and for all 
the water rights, are estimated, in the gross, and without 
details, at $121,600 00. 

The cost of the source is included in the above ; but, 



33 



ill the opinion of judicious persons, it will, by itself, equal, 
if it do not exceed, the entire allowance. 

Mr. Knight has a spacious carpet mill at the pond, 
which he has recently enlarged, and he employs constantly 
a large number of hands. This establishment takes all 
the water of the pond, and will be entirely ruined by the 
proposed aqueduct. The city, therefore, will be bound to 
give to Mr. Knight another water power, of equal good- 
ness, elsewhere, and remove his whole establishment to it ; 
or pay, in damages, the assessed value of the power, build- 
ings, and other fixtures. In the vicinity are several build- 
ings, which will be nearly worthless, if the factory be 
removed. We do not pretend to estimate the amount of 
this damage ; but there cannot be a question that it will be 
very large. 

After the water falls into Concord River, its use is claimed 
by the Middlesex Canal, and by several establishments at 
Billerica and Lowell, and, according to Mr. Eddy, by other 
mills on the route. The late Judge Thacher says, " that 
the total diversion of the water of the pond would pro- 
bably deprive the canal of nearly all its water ; " and it 
has been said, we know not with how much truth, that 
$80,000 will be claimed for this damage alone. 

The three City reservoirs are estimated at $93,563 00, 
land and structures included; but no particulars are given, 
and the reader must judge for himself of the probability 
there is that this will prove to be the actual result. 

From a pamphlet entitled " Argument before the Joint 
Special Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature," by 
Wm. J. Hubbard, Esquire, it would seem that one of the 
Commissioners, even, has doubts as to the correctness of 
the estimate of damages for water-rights ; for it says, — 
" Mr. Jackson, one of their number, who has probably had 
as much experience in settling such claims as any man in 
the Commonwealth, in his testimony before the Com- 
mittee, stated that he -would not guaranty to pay them for 
5 



84 



half a million of dollars. For what sum he would under- 
take to guaranty their payment, he did not state." 

The estimate of the expense of the Croton Aqueduct, 
on which estimate the popular vote was taken, was 
$5,412,336 72. The actual cost has been over $12,500,000, 
and it is not yet finished. 

It is said, that the argument usually drawn from this 
fact, is not sound ; for the reason that, in that case, the dis- 
tance was double, and the tract of country over which it 
passes, unusually varied, rocky and difficult. But we do 
not see the force of the denial ; for the distance, we pre- 
sume, did not double itself between the time when the 
work was estimated and that in which in which it was 
completed ; and as for the difficulties of the ground, why 
were they not gone into thoroughly in the first instance, 
and before an estimate was submitted to the people? 
The whole weight of the argument lies in this very point, 
that loose estimates are made in the outset, without 
minute examination, and consequently, that results, very 
unexpected, are obtained. In the Croton surveys, many 
months were spent in investigation, and minute calcula- 
tions were entered into; but notwithstanding, the final cost 
was more than double the estimate. And unless it can 
be shown, that more care has been used, or greater expe- 
rience and knowledge acquired, in the matter of Long 
Pond, it is not easy to get rid of the fear of a somewhat 
similar result. 

The question of cost, however, is only secondary to the 
main one of supply, and we should not have entered upon 
it here, except for the peculiar circumstances of the present 
case. If there were an inexhaustible body of water, like 
that of Croton river, within a reasonable distance of Boston, 
we should say at once — go and get it, cost what it may. 
But when the source of supply is of itself confessedly in- 
sufficient to furnish the estimated quantity, and can only be 



35 

made so by doubtful artificial means ; and especially, when 
there are other sources, of about the same extent, nearer at 
hand, and to be obtained at a less price, it becomes impor- 
tant to consider in detail all the facts which bear upon the 
case. Great cost is properly an overwhelming objection 
to a doubtful plan. 

A large city debt, the interest of which must mostly be 
taxed upon those citizens who choose to remain here after 
the first of May, will prove no inconsiderable evil, and we 
cannot exercise too much caution before we incur one. — 
Our public schools, emphatically the glory of Boston, our 
alms-houses, hospitals, and other public institutions, are 
dependent for their support upon annual appropriations; 
and should some three or four millions of dollars be laid 
out in a water scheme, that after all should prove to be a 
failure, they will all suffer severely from it. Many real 
improvements have long been contemplated by the City, 
but are not carried out for want of adequate resources ; 
Among them may be mentioned a new county jail, and 
a more extended plan for widening streets, some of which 
are almost impassable. 

Upon this much vexed question of water, my own mind 
has inclined in favor of Spot Pond as the source, which 
under all the circumstances applicable to the wants of the 
City, it is best to begin with. Charles river I conceive to 
be greatly preferable to Long Pond, and for the reasons 
set forth in an able pamphlet by John H. Wilkins, Esq.; 
but for present supply, I prefer Spot Pond to either. The 
City has already one Aqueduct within its borders, which 
can fully supply 30,000 persons with the best of soft 
water ; the wells and cisterns, now existing, will undoubt- 
edly supply 40,000 persons more. We want, therefore, an 
additional present supply for 50,000 persons, with a rea- 
sonable allowance for increase in the population — say 
100,000 additional inhabitants. Now Spot Pond may be 
depended upon for a daily supply of 2,500,000 gallons, 



36 



which is over sixteen gallons to each of 150,000 persons. 
It can be brought here in the short period of eighteen 
months, and distributed through the streets at an expense 
not exceeding one million of dollars. If we are to place 
any reliance upon the experience of other cities, it will be 
twenty years at least, before these 2,500,000 gallons will 
be taken by the citizens, on the principle proposed in the 
Long Pond scheme. 

The elevation of Spot Pond is twenty-one feet higher 
than that of Long Pond ; and the water, which stands at 
a level of forty feet above the floor of the State House, may 
be brought, without recourse to artificial means, to a point 
twenty-five feet above it. It is also seventeen miles nearer 
to Boston. 

It can be taken from the Pond at nine feet lower level 
than it is proposed to take Long Pond, which gives a re- 
serve over the whole surface of the Pond, of that number 
of feet. For these reasons, it appears to me desirable to 
commence with Spot Pond. It is the purest water ; it is 
at the highest elevation ; it can be brought in at the cheap- 
est rate ; the quantity will always be amply sufficient for 
the higher parts of the City, and, for many years to come, 
for all parts. The mode of bringing it in, that of iron pipes, 
is the safest and most certain. The cost of the source and 
water-rights is ascertained and agreed upon. It is only 
seven miles from the City. 

If, at a future time, a larger supply is wanted, it can 
easily be brought from Mystic Pond, as proposed in the 
Report of 1837, or from Charles River, if that should be 
thought best, and without, in the least degree, impairing 
the utility of existing works. 

In the mean time, the interest on the capital necessary 
to be laid out by the Long Pond project, for water that is 
not needed for present use, will be saved. It is true, that 
the additional supply must be obtained by pumping ; but, 
then, time will have been gained, experience will have 



vn 



been acquired, and sucli improvements in the arts appli- 
cable to the supply of water, may have taken place, as to 
furnish the requisite amount, when needed, with more cer- 
tainty and at a cheaper rate. Such are the views to which 
I have arrived on this subject. Others may ridicule them, 
but I cannot perceive their unsoundness. 

But whether my views, as to Spot Pond, be well 
founded or not, if a great expenditure is to be incurred, it 
is of the first importance that more thorough examinations 
should be made of the other sources, before the work is 
commenced. Let the same rules apply to this as to 
other important enterprises. Let the object be truth, not 
the carrying out, at all hazards, of preconceived notions, 
hastily formed. The best source.^ be it where it may ; the 
safest and most permanent mode of bringing it into the 
city, taking into due consideration all the circumstances 
which bear upon the case ; these should be the only points 
of inquiry ; and they should be investigated by impartial 
and competent persons, until they can come to a well-di- 
gested and satisfactory conclusion upon them. 

In no other way, do I believe it possible that any gener- 
al unanimity of opinion among our citizens, upon this 
important subject, can be obtained. 

Let the Legislature, or the City authorities, appoint a 
commission from the scientific and practical men who 
have been employed on the Croton Water Works, who 
have now obtained large experience, and whose judgment 
is not warped by preconceived views as to sources. Let 
them be allowed to examine the whole subject, de novo, 
and when they have deliberately come to a conclusion 
upon it, let them present and recommend a plan, with all the 
facts and reasonings on which it is founded ; it being express- 
ly understood that a new commission is to be appointed to 
carry it out. Then let the City government recommend 
it to the citizens, and we have sufficient confidence in the 



38 



intelligence and good sense of our people to believe, that 
they will assent to it with almost entire unanimity. 

But if this course be objected to, let the City authori- 
ties ask beforehand, for power to appoint one commission 
to examine and recommend a plan, and another to carry 
it out, when agreed upon. Should such a commission be 
appointed in good faith, for one, I am willing to abide the 
result. 

These remarks have already been extended much be- 
yond what was originally intended ; but we must crave 
permission to say a single word upon the Water Act 
which has been obtained from the Legislature, and which 
is soon to be offered to the citizens for their acceptance. 
It confers very unusual powers upon the commissioners 
who may be appointed under it; but, we think, not 
without reason. 

A great work is to be done, requiring intelligence, en- 
ergy, integrity and general conformity of opinion ; and it 
seems to us, that to ensure perfection and consistency, in 
the general design and its execution, as well as accounta- 
bility in the agents, it is important that the persons who 
are selected should be left to act out their own best judg- 
ments, unshackled by the chances and changes of the 
popular feeling. Whether the power to create and dis- 
pose of scrip, and some other monetary provisions, are 
judicious, seems more doubtful. 

The excellence of most of the provisions depends, 
mainly, upon the wisdom of the selection which is made 
of agents to carry them out ; and this leads us to speak 
of a remarkable feature in this bill, which, alone, has in- 
duced us to allude to it. By the 5th section, the " three 
Commissioners shall be chosen by ballot, by the Mayor, 
Aldermen, and Common Council, assembled in convention." 
And, by the 1st section, " the City government shall deter- 
mine by a majority of votes, in joint ballot^ from which 
source to bring this water." 



39 



Now this is introducing a new, and we think most dan- 
gerous element into the action of the City government. 
It is, in fact, revolutionizing it. Under the charter and the 
laws, the City government is composed of two distinct 
bodies — the Mayor and Aldermen, and the Common 
Council— each acting separately upon the business which 
comes before it. Like the Senate and House of Repre- 
sentatives, they are each intended to be a check on the 
other, and thereby to afford additional security to the pro- 
priety and wisdom of the measm-es which they may adopt. 
In no instance has any legislative act been done without 
the sanction of each Board acting hy itself; and we know 
but of two cases where elections are made in convention, 
those of the City Clerk and City Treasurer, and these by 
express statute provisions. No questions, for many years, 
have come up, so deeply involving the public interests as 
those which relate to the decision of the source from whence 
a supply of water is to be taken, and the appointment of 
Commissioners who are to execute the work and disburse 
immense sums of money ; and yet, both these questions are 
left to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council, sitting 
in convention, and not as separate bodies. Of course, the 
vote of eight men will not be felt in a body composed of 
twenty-four. The precedent is worse, even, than the case 
itself. The whole character of our municipal affairs may 
be changed by it, and, in times of party excitement, it 
will doubtless be availed of to the great injury of the pub- 
lic interest. What the reasons may have been for intro- 
ducing so dangerous a practice at the present time, we are 
not anxious to inquire. But, were we as much in favor 
of the Long Pond project as some of its warmest friends, 
we feel bound to say, that we could, not conscientiously 
vote for the acceptance of the present Water Act, so long 
as it retained the sections alluded to. 



Note. — In the pamphlet entitled " Proceedings before a Joint Special 
Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature, &c." published under City 
authority, since these Remarks were put to press,my testimony before the 
Committee is given as follows: " H. B. R., sworn. Is an Alderman of the 
City of Boston ; had not examined the subject of water sufficiently to have 
a decided opinion upon the various sources."' I have no recollection of 
giving any such testimony as this. What I did say was not important, but 
is correctly stated in a pamphlet, by Wm. J. Hubbard, as follows : " Al- 
derman R. testified that he was not in favor of the Long Pond project ; 
that he thought further examination necessary ; that he voted for it, (the 
order to apply to the Legislature for a charter,) under the circumstances 
in which the City government was then placed, that the next City Coun- 
cil might be free to act as they should think fit." 



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