Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography

Technology Water Meters

Water Meters

Water meters became a very important element of water works systems, but took a long time to perfect:

1855 July 24, 1855 - A patent issued for a "Water Metre" (a new and useful Meter for Measuring the Quantity of Flowing Liquids"); one of the first practical water meters in the United States.

1860 "Cheap Water," The New York Times, October 9, 1860, Page 4.

1881 “How Croton Water is WastedEngineering News 8:450-451 (November 5, 1881)
How Croton Water is Wasted. “The inspectors of the Department of Public Works are busy searching for houses where water is wasted. Their method is to have a man enter a sewer in the night-time through a man-hole and apply a gauge to the water flowing into the sewers from houses. In cases where the flow is great an inspector is sent to the house the next day to examine the plumbing. When a serious leak is found the water is cut off summarily. In this way a number of houses have been deprived of water within the last few days. The police have been notified to be especially vigilant to prevent the waste or water, and the result of the order has been that several houses have been reported. In one case yesterday the water was cut off from a row of three houses on a police report. The water will not be let on again until the owners or occupants take measures to prevent waste. The officials of the Department of Public Works find the most fault with apartment houses. One of them visited by inspectors had a tank on the top floor containing 3,300 gallons of water. This was filled and emptied twice a day, making the water supply 6,600 gallons a day. Ten families live in the house, so that 660 gallons are used by each family, which is considered an excessive amount. This does not include hot water, which is supplied from boilers in the basement. The officials have no power to limit the supply unless a waste of water can be shown. Some trouble is experienced by the inspectors in gaining admittance to houses in the daytime, as servants object to letting them in while their employers are out.”

1901 "The Water Meter as a Sanitary Agent," by M. N. Baker, Municipal Journal and Engineer 11(5):199-200 (November, 1901)

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce