Statement by the Directors of the Dunedin Water Works Company
Printed at the "Daily Times" Office Dunedin Rattray StreetMDCCCLXXIV
The Water Works Question.
As some misunderstanding seems to have arisen in regard to the position of matters between the Corporation and the Water Works Company in the proposed sale of the Works, the Directors of the Company have thought it desirable to put the following facts before the public.
First—With reference to the alleged Contract for sale—or, as it is called, honourable engagement to sell—the facts are these:—
On the 21st June, 1872, at an extraordinary meeting of the Shareholders, Mr. Reynolds moved as follows: "That the Works be offered to the Corporation at £5 per Share premium on 5050 Shares allotted, on the conditions arranged with the Corporation, as per Report, and that the Collector receive six months' salary."
The result of the voting, counting Shares, was 455 as against 305—leaving, apparently, a majority of 150 in favour of the motion, but, in reality, a minority of 115 of the number (three-fourths) necessary to constitute a majority, though this necessity was not known to the Directors at the time. At the same time, it was distinctly promised to the Shareholders that a deed should be prepared, and submitted to the Shareholders for confirmation, before the property actually passed. In pursuance of that Resolution, the Directors entered into a written agreement with the City Corporation, by which they agreed, on behalf of the Company, to sell the Water Works to the Corporation at the price named in the Resolution, subject to certain special conditions, among which were the following: that the sale should be completed on or before the 1st of January, 1873; and that time should be deemed of the essence of the contract.
During the Session of Assembly immediately following this meeting the Dunedin Gas and Water Works Loan Act, 1872, was passed, at the instance of the Corporation. In that Act is the following clause: "Nothing herein, or in the Municipal Corporations Water Works Act, 1872, contained, shall be deemed to authorise the Dunedin Water Works Company to sell the Water Works of such Company, except under the authority of a special resolution of the Shareholders of such Company to be hereafter passed." And in the same Session, another Act was passed, called "The Municipal Corporations Water Works Act, 1872," which contained provisions requiring the Corporation to give three months' public notice of their intention to purchase or construct Water Works, and empowering two-fifths of the Citizens to interpose, and by their veto page 4 prevent the Corporation from entering upon either undertaking. The Directors, neither directly nor indirectly, had anything to do with the insertion of those provisions in the two Acts; but the effect of them was, that, apart from its original infirmity of not having been passed by a sufficient majority, the Resolution of the Company at once fell to the ground, and the Corporation were disabled from completing the attempted purchase within the time purposely limited by the Directors.
At a General Meeting of Shareholders, convened on February 7, 1873, the following motion was made by the Chairman: "That the works and plant be sold to the Corparation at £15 per Share on all the Shares allotted, as per agreement submitted as per Dunedin Gas and Water Works Loan Act, 1872." Before the voting on this motion, the Chairman was asked: "Is it to be part of the bargain that every Shareholder can have the amount due to him in Corporation Debentures at six per cent?" The answer was: "Yes. Any Shareholder can have all, or any portion of his purchase money in Corporation Debentures at six per cent." Another question was: "How long will these Debentures run before they can be redeemed?" The answer was: "Fifty years. The Shareholders will get Six per Cent. Debentures for fifty years." (Vide "Daily Times" report.) The voting upon this motion stood thus: 838 for the motion, and 575 against it—leaving, apparently, a majority in favour of the motion of 263, but, in reality, a minority of 221 of the number (three-fourths) necessary to constitute a majority—though this was not known to the Directors at the time.
The Directors being thus apparently, but, as it was afterwards discovered, not really, armed with authority to revive the former (supposed) contract, placed themselves in communication with the City Council, and then the Corporation found that they could only give thirty years' Debentures, and this fact was communicated by the Mayor, Mr. Fish, to the Chairman of the Company, accompanied with threats of agitation and compulsion, if the Company did not sell to the Corporation and accept of thirty years' Debentures instead of fifty; and subsequently, on the 18th February, the same fact—i.e., the inability of the Corporation—was communicated officially by the Town Clerk to the Directors, and accepted by the latter as an intimation that all negotiations were at an end. Some time afterwards it was discovered by the Directors that a majority of three-fourths of the Shareholders was necessary to pass any such motion as had been proposed, and consequently that there never was any motion whatever passed by the Shareholders which, either morally or legally, bound the Company to sell to the Corporation.
On the 9th May, 1873, the Corporation wrote to the Company, threatening, if the Directors declined taking the thirty years' Debentures, that they would "apply to Parliament at the ensuing Session for the repeal of the Company's rating power, improperly held by a Company which is unable to supply the wants of the inhabitants of the City and suburbs." To this communication the Directors replied by simply acknowledging receipt, considering as they did that the Corporation had thus entered upon a course wholly unjustified by the circumstances—a course which, if persevered in, would disentitle the Corporation to any favour or concession on the part page 5 of the Company, and more than justified the latter in acting upon the rule which usually governs the sale of property—that of obtaining its fair value.
Resolved—1. That in accordance with the recommendation of the Board, the Works and Plant of the Company be sold to the Corporation.
2. That in consequence of the general rise and increasing value of the Company's property, the sum formerly offered by the Corporation and recently renewed of £15 per share does not represent the fair value of the Shares.
3. That the Directors be authorised to arrange with the Corporation to refer the question of the actual price to be paid for the Shares to a competent arbitrator or abitrators, mutually chosen, of high social position and totally unconnected with this City or Province, both parties to be bound by his or their decision, subject to the conditions formerly contained in the draft agreement. The consent in writing of three-fourths of the Shareholders in number and value to be obtained before signing the submission.
It was during the discussion of these Resolutions that the offer of £16 per Share was made by the Corporation; and after a motion by a Share-holder that the Company should sell at that price had been put to the meeting and negatived, the above Resolutions were carried by the requisite three-fourths in number and value of the Shareholders, and were communicated to the Corporation by letter of November 3rd, in which the Secretary of the Company pointed out the difficulties in the way of any other settlement, assured the Corporation of the sincere desire of the Directors to co-operate with the Corporation in securing the Water Works for the City at their fair value; promised that the Directors would reciprocate a fair and honourable spirit in carrying out the negotiations; and reminded the Corporation that this was the first offer by which the Shareholders were legally bound. This offer the Corporation refused, in terms of marked discourtesy. See their letter of 25th November, 1873. And so the matter now stands.
Second—Objections have been made to the quality of the water supplied to Dunedin. It will be sufficient to say, that not one of the objections applies to the water in the Lower Reservoir, or to that supplied to the City, but to the Upper Reservoir, or settling basin, where all impurities coming down the creek are caught, and prevented from going into the Lower Reservoir, from whence the City is supplied.page 6
It will be seen from the documents following that Professor Black says that hitherto there was no necessity for filtering the water, and no blame can therefore lie on the Company for neglect. The Directors now, however, on his recommendation, will construct filter beds so soon as the necessary funds can be raised under the Borrowing Bill which the Company propose to introduce at the ensuing Session of the General Assembly, but which the Corporation, with singular inconsistency, threaten to oppose.
The water supply of Glasgow and of Melbourne is not filtered, and the Dunedin water compares favourably with either.
The Directors are making arrangements to have the water periodically analysed by competent analysts, in order that the Citizens may, from time to time, have the most authentic information upon so important a subject.
By order of the Directors,
Thomas Dick, Secretary Dunedin Water Works Company.
30th June, 1873.
Sir—I have the honour to report on six samples of water forwarded to me for analysis by the Corporation of Dunedin.
The samples were taken from different sources. They were not collected under my superintendence, but I have no reason to doubt that they represent fairly the average quality of the water at the different localities.
For the sake of comparison with other waters supplied to large communities, I have transferred to my tables analyses of samples from various parts of the world. Those given in Table I. [herewith enclosed] are copied from the list given in Watts' "Chemical Dictionary" (page 1016, Vol. V., 1869). I have converted his milligrammes per litre into grains per gallon; and his calcium, magnesium, sodium, &c., into lime, magnesia, soda, &c.
The examples I have quoted in Table II., [enclosed], I have transferred from Wanklyn and Chapman's treatise on Water Analysis, published in 1870.
The analysis of each of the samples of Dunedin water reported on was performed by myself in all its details. I am, therefore, responsible for any inaccuracies it may contain. In the total amount of solid contents Dunedin supply approximates closely to the water of the Clyde, above Glasgow, the Elbe, the Spree, and the Danube, which supply Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna. It contains more than the Manchester supply, in the ratio of 3 to 2. It contains less than the London supply, in the ratio of 1 to 3.
In this respect, therefore, the water supplied to Dunedin is far within the limits of water extensively used for domestic supply. The softness of the Dunedin water is accounted for by the smallness of the quantity of lime and magnesia salts it contains. This softness is an advantage for washing and cooking purposes, and for domestic use in general; also for supplying steam-boilers, as it is not so liable as harder water to deposit a crust on the inner surface of the boiler.
A harder water, containing a larger proportion of sulphate of lime, would be more suitable for brewing purposes. There is, perceptibly, more iron dissolved in the water taken from the taps in Dunedin, than as taken from the "Lower Larger Reservoir." The quantity, however, is not such as to render the water in the least degree objectionable. The organic matter returned in Table I., is a constituent of a tar greater significance in a water intended for domestic use than any of the other constituents given in that table. Its amount was calculated in the usual way, from the loss sustained by ignition of the solid contents, due allowance being made for the carbonic acid and oxygen expelled. It will be seen on reference to the column headed "Organic Matter," in Table I., that the volatile organic matter in Dunedin water is approximately half as much as is contained in most of the water supplied to London, and nearly twice as much as contained in the Glasgow supply from Loch Katrine. I consider that on the whole it is not an excessive amount; and, when viewed in connection with columns headed "Ammonia," in Table II., it falls well within the returns reported for samples of water supplied to large communities.page 8
The most objectionable form of organic matter is that which contains Nitrogen or Nitrogenous organic matter. The proportion of this impurity that has already undergone decomposition is indicated in Table II., under the headings "Ammonia already formed," which might be called "Free Ammonia," and "Nitrogen of Nitrates and Nitrites." The amount of nitrogenous organic matter existing in the water, and still undecomposed, is stated in the same table, under the heading "Ammonia derivable from organic matter." A little less or more of this impurity makes a great difference in the quality of water. The objection to "Free Ammonia" and "Nitrates and Nitrites" is not founded so much on the injurious properties of the substances themselves as on the indication they give of the existence of nitrogenous impurities from which they have been derived. The Ammonia not yet formed, but whose constituents are contained in the nitrogenous organic matter still undecomposed, has been appropriately termed "Albuminoid Ammonia." On this "Albuminoid Ammonia chiefly depends the goodness or badness of a water intended for domestic use. Its amount is given in Table II., under the heading "Ammonia derivable from organic matter." It will be seen by reference to that table that the "Free Ammonia," or "Ammonia already formed, in the Dunedin water ranges from 0.01 to 0.08 parts in a million of water; the higher figure being quite exceptional, while the "Albuminoid Ammonia," or "Ammonia derivable from organic matter," is contained within the limits of 0.057 and 0.098 parts in a million parts of water.
By an enlargement of Table II., I might show, by additional examples, that the "Free Ammonia" in water supplied by the different London Companies ranges from 0.01 to 0.3 parts in a million; in the domestic supply of Manchester from 0.006 to 0.014 parts in a million; in the Edinburgh supply from 0.004 to 0.14; and in the Glasgow Loch Katrine water, as is seen by Table II., from .004 to . . . While the "Albuminoid Ammonia," or "Ammonia still unformed" ranges in the London supply from 0.05 to 0.16, in the Manchester supply from 0.06 to 0.10, in the Edinburgh supply from 0.034 to 0.10, and in Glasgow supply, Loch Katrine, 0.08.
The amount of Nitrates and Nitrites will be seen on reference to Table II. to be not unduly large in the Dunedin supply.
Under the microscope (Nachet's construction, 400 diamaters) the various samples submitted, while showing a considerable variety of organic forms, did not contain these in an unusual proportion, nor of such kinds as to render the water unfit for dietetic purposes.
On the whole, I consider the samples submitted for analysis a good soft water, well fitted for the domestic supply of a community.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient Servant,
James G. Black.J. M. Massey, Esq., Town Clerk of Dunedin.
11th April, 1874.
J. M. Massey, Esq., Town Clerk.
Sir—In accordance with your instructions to me, dated 6th inst., I have the honour to report on the quality of the Dunedin Water Company's water. Three of the .samples examined, marked A, B, C, in the subjoined table, were delivered at the Laboratory by one of your officers. The sample marked D, I collected at the Laboratory tap here. As my Report to you, dated 30th, June of last year, exhibits the results of a careful and exhaustive analysis of the water supplied to Dunedin at that time, I have not considered it necessary to do more at present than determine the proportion of total solid residue left on evaporation, and the proportion of organic matter in the several samples. The table subjoined shows the results I obtained under these two headings on the 9th of the present month, also the results obtained on the 25th of June of last year; and, for comparison, I have transferred from Watts' Dictionary of Chemistry corresponding results similarly obtained from river and lake waters supplied to London and other communities in various parts of Europe.
It will be seen from these results, that the water taken from the Corporation Offices' tap last week contains about 36 per cent, more organic matter than water taken from the same tap in last June. This increase of organic matter is probably to be accounted for by the circumstance that the present analysis was made at an earlier period of the year, before the cold weather has set in, and before the heavy rains of winter have swept away the looser vegetable growths.
Under the microscope (Nachet's, 400 diam.) the water taken from the Corporation and Laboratory taps does not show organisms in greater variety or in much greater proportion than I observed in June last.
The sample submitted from the Upper Reservoir, however, shows low cellular growth—confervæ, desmids, diatoms, &c.—in such abundance as to render that water, in its present condition, in my opinion, quite unfit for domestic use. In view of these results, showing so large an increase of organic matter, the water will not quite maintain the good character I was able to give it in my last Report. Though still within the limits of water extensively used for domestic purposes, it is, I think, desirable that something were done to improve its quality. A great improvement could be easily effected by causing the water to undergo, before entering the main, a process of filtration, either through a bed of sand and gravel, or these mixed with clay and powdered charcoal. By this means, the suspended impurities—vegetable growths, particles of clay, and the débris of plants—would be removed; and if charcoal were used, the dissolved organic impurities also to some extent.
If, in addition to some such process of filtration, the water were caused to flow for a few miles in the open air over a sandy or pebbly channel, so as to be exposed to the action of light and the oxydising influence of the atmosphere, it would rank, for domestic purposes, among the best waters supplied to any community.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
James G. Black, Provincial Analyst.
23rd April, 1874.
Dear Sir—As some misunderstanding appears to exist in the community with reference to your recent Report on the quality of the water supplied to Dunedin, will you oblige me by replying to the annexed questions? of course adding thereto any explanations you may consider necessary to prevent your replies being made use of unfairly, either for or against the quality of the water; my only object being to elicit the real facts in a form which all the public can understand.
Robert Gillies.Chairman of Directors of the Water Works Company,
25rd April, 1874.
Robert Gillies, Esq.,
Dear Sir—I have to acknowledge your communication of yesterday referring to my Report of 13th inst. on the Dunedin water, and requesting replies to a series of questions, "to elicit the real facts in a form which every one can understand."
Now I do not see how any one can fail to understand that Report, so far as it goes, especially if read in its true character, as a supplement to my Report of 30th June of last year.
It is not, as already explained, like the former Report, founded on a complete analysis of the water. It deals only with the total solid residue, and the total organic matter present in the water at the time of analysis. There is a column devoted to the results obtained under each of these two headings; the same columns also show the proportion of total solid residue and of total organic matter obtained from other well-known sources of water supply in various parts of Europe.
Every one, therefore, who reads my Report, has the means of comparing in these respects the Dunedin Company's water with the other waters quoted.
However, with the view of removing any misunderstanding that may exist, I shall with pleasure comply with your request.
J. G. Black, Provincial Analyst.
Questions and Answers.
Q. 1. Was the water marked A in your Schedule collected under your instructions? or has any evidence been submitted to you that that sample was collected in such a way as to ensure its being a fair sample from the small Upper Reservoir?
A. 1. No. Samples A B and C, as stated in my Report, were delivered in jars at the Laboratory. I made no enquiries, nor was any information offered as to the manner in which they were collected.
Q. 2. From your knowledge of the Upper Reservoir, as a settling basin to catch all impurities coming down the creek, would you state whether you think it possible to take a sample of water from there (without any intention of acting unfairly) which would not be a fair sample of the whole water in that Reservoir?
A. 2. Yes. Water taken from the Upper Reservoir, just within the margin where confervas are abundant and luxuriant, would probably contain fragments of these plants in undue proportion. On the other hand, water obtained well within the Reservoir, but collected in such a manner that the vessel receiving it was not plunged several inches under the surface, would probably contain an undue proportion of light floating particles—dust, flies, feathers, fragments of plants, &c. In either case, the water so collected would not be an average sample of the water in the Reservoir.
Q. 3. Am I right in saying that your remark, that "that water in its present condition was quite unfit for domestic use," referred solely to that particular sample, and not to the water in the Lower Reservoir which supplies the City, or to any of the samples gathered from any of the taps in town?
A. 3. Yes. The words of my Report are: "The sample from the Upper Reservoir shows low cellular growths, confervæ, desmids, diatoms, &c., in such abundance as to render that water in its present condition, in my opinion, quite unfit for domestic use." I wish it to be clearly understood that the water which I characterised as above was the water contained in the jar delivered at the Laboratory, and labelled as page 14 having been taken from the Upper Reservoir. I had not, before making my Report, inspected the Upper Reservoir, and could not therefore judge with any certainty whether the sample sent to the Laboratory fairly represented the average quality of that water. Since writing my Report, however, I visited the Reservoirs to-day, and in justice to the Water Company must say that sample A of my Report does not fairly represent the water at present in the Upper Reservoir.
Q. 4. In regard to your statement that "the water taken from the Corporation Offices tap, last week, contains 36 per cent, more organic matter than water taken from the same tap in last June," am I right in saying that you do not mean thereby that 36 per cent, of every gallon of water is organic matter, but that 36 per cent, of the organic matter it contained before, which was 1.40 grains per gallon, or .5 of a grain, represents the increase of organic matter?—or, to put it in another form, am I right in saying that the total increase of organic matter alluded to amounts to half a grain in the gallon of water?
A. 4. Yes. It will be seen on reference to column headed "Organic Matter" in my Report of 13th inst. that one gallon of water taken from the tap at the Corporation Offices in June last year yielded 1.4 grains of organic matter; and that one gallon from the same tap this month yielded 1.9 grains of organic matter. The increase of organic matter this month as compared with the quantity of organic matter present in the water last June is therefore half a grain per gallon. This, as stated in my Report, is an increase of 36 per cent, on the quantity observed in June last. The same column also shews for this month an increase of 2.73 grains of organic matter per gallon in the water from the Upper Reservoir. This is equal to an increase of 208 per cent, on the quantity found in last June. The Lower Reservoir shows an increase of .85 grains per gallon, which is equal to an increase of 68 per cent.
Q. 5. In characterising the increase of organic matter as "so large," am I right in saying that that is simply in proportion to the small amount formerly found in it, and does not refer to the actual amount in the water as compared with many other waters extensively used for domestic purposes?
A. 5. Yes. The words "so large an increase of organic matter" have reference solely to the results obtained from the Dunedin Company's water this month and in June last year. The increase of organic matter observed in the three samples already quoted—viz., 36 per cent., 68 per cent., and 208 per cent., otherwise £ grain, .68 grain, 2.73 grains per gallon respectively—is the chief ground of my opinion that the water "does not quite maintain the good character I was able to give it last June."
Q. 6. Am I right in saying that under the microscope you found the water supplied in Dunedin (Corporation and Laboratory taps) does not show organisms in greater variety nor in much greater proportion than in June last, when you reported that the water "did not contain organic forms in an unusual proportion, nor of such kind as to render the water unlit for dietetic purposes?"
A. 6. Yes.
Q. 7. Is there anything in your Report that should make any one give up the use of the water, as delivered at the taps in the City, for ordinary domestic purposes?
A. 7. No.
Q. 8. In any part of your Report, do you wish to convey anything more than that it is desirable to improve the water by filtration; and that if this were done it would rank for domestic purposes among the best waters supplied to any community?
A. 8. No.
Q. 9. Was there anything revealed in your analysis of June last to induce you to recommend that the water should be filtered, or that should have induced the Directors of the Company to go to that expense before this?
A. 9. No.page 15
Q. 10. On the whole, and taking the water as supplied through the mains to the City, do you consider it, as to quality, within the limits of water extensively used for domestic purposes?
A. 10. Yes.
Q. 11. Am I right in saying that the average of all the samples of water analysed in June last shows that they contain .073 parts of Albuminoid Ammonia in one million parts of water, whilst Loch Katrine water contains .080 of the same, and that it is on the amount of this Albuminoid Ammonia that the goodness or badness of a water chiefly depends?
A. 11. Yes.