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JAMA 100 Years Ago
November 8, 2006


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2006;296(18):2270. doi:10.1001/jama.296.18.2270

The need for expert supervision and control over municipal water supplies has perhaps never been more forcibly illustrated than in the series of documents published by the Merchants' Association of New York City. It has long been a source of wonder to European visitors that a matter so important to the public health, and so momentous to the welfare of a community as the public water supply, should be left to any degree in the hands of greedy contractors or irresponsible and perhaps treacherous public officials. The plight in which the city of New York finds itself furnishes a strong argument to those who are urging a larger measure of foresight and expert control in municipal affairs. It has been pointed out in the last few years by engineers of eminent authority that New York is in almost constant danger of a water famine. In one of the recent reports of the Merchants' Association it is stated that “the existing storage is insufficient to carry the city over a protracted dry season unless the present rate of consumption be materially reduced. In 1899 and 1900 the city was dependent for 255 days on its stored water. At the present rate of consumption in case of continued drought the stored supply would be exhausted in 245 days. Before a new supply is available it is estimated that the draft on the storage during the dry season will have so increased as to exhaust it in 175 days.”