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THE GOl^FiFIELDS WATER ? ^::i -::-: SCHEME.^: ;'

THE, REPORTED LEAKAGES. INQUIRY BY ENGlNEER-lNcCHIEF

Mr. C. £.. R. Palmer, the'; eugiEeer inLcbicf who was c^rriimissioned-'tp ? yi&t- tha-. section of the pipe; between Gun-: dcrdin-and Merredm to ascertain to ; what extent the ]e:ika.op.- :hV vp-nnrtpA

existed, has sent the fallowing report to the Minister hn Works:— ;;/ ?'Before dealing with the actual facts as regards the pumping operations at Cunderdin. I would like to draw atten tion to the following poims, namely. — 'That, as legards the pipes,, it is possible tp make exhaustive tests, both of the metal prior to the manufac ture of the pipes and of the pipes themselves after manufacture, before any one pipe is put en trucks for car riage to site it is to be laid at; but, as regards the finished pipe line, the onlv possible test is by actually filling the pipes with water, 'and it is a usual thing, when pipe-laying is let by con tract, not only elsewhere but aiso in tlys State, to specify that the laying, or, in other words1, the jointing, shall be tested by filling the pipes with water— th'at is to say, by hydraulic pressure : and of course when the tests are made, it is only through leakage .that it can be discovered that any joints arc not watertight.' 'The distance from Cunderdin to Merredm is approximately 63 miles, and the working pressure in the first portion of that distance 'will be, rou ghly speaking, as heavy as anywhere along the pipe line, but the highest point on tlie section is reached at railway mileage 139^, and from this point the water can reach Merredin by gravitation ; 'the maximum pressure in any of the valleys crossed being not more than two-thirds of , what it^is in the first portion of the line, and, ex cept for three miles at the very com mencement of this first portion of the line, -wherein, as I have said, the heav-, iest pressures- occur, the joints were only caulked once — that is to say, the re-caulkine, which some months back

was iaken jn hand, was not considered necessary on the whole of this particu ? lar section. ''In order to escape, is possible, the effects of contraction and expansion, due to heat, the whole of the pipes were covered 'over some time backhand now, when the hydraulic test is ap plied, the only way to tell whether a pipe or joint is leaking — unless^, of course, water shows on the surface of the ground — is by noting where extra subsidence, of the new filling oc curs, and, as at each joint it was ne cessary, whether the caulking was per fojmed by hand or' by machine, to ex cavate, deeper than- along the rest ,of ?the pipe line, it will be easily under stood that the new earth filling will settle lower, and, of course,' this extra settlement ;could be caused,not'alone by ^leaking water, but also through natural rainfall, and during- my inspection yes terday I noticed' manifest instances of water, due to rainfall, having caused, ,such subsidence.- Bui, omitting only the'fexv of these- cases where I could not .but judge that the subsidence 'at the liianholes must, be due -to natural causes and nothing else,. I found that the total of subsidences possibly due to leakage, in a len'gth of' seven /miles of pipe line, which 1 walked, over, was only ^o per cent, of the whole number1 of joints, and this seven miles not only -constituted the portion where the } heaviest pressure occurs, but there as j ' also the fact to remember that one- 1 'third of the length consists of some'i of the worst ground on -the track. ' 'It ? cannot be said, of course, until these iplaces are opened up, whether the 'whole of this 10 per cent, is due to leaky joints, and. personally, I am of the'topinion, judging by a consider able number of places, where the joints have already been uncovered* that the 10 per cent, is not all due, or even anything like due, to leakage from the joints. , But, assuming that the whole 10 per cent, is due to leakage from the joints, I would point out that 'one of .the independent witnesses (Mr. Hos Icins)' who appeared before the Select Committee .of the House, and whose evidence i is quoted at the very com mencement of the Select Committee's report, stated that,' in his opinion,, a full third of the joints would leak to commence with, and in such circum stances we have to congratulate our selves that * his estimate has not been realised, or anything like realised. It has also to be remembered that this pumping has been started _ in winter, when the_ground generally was at its worst, and.' will yield most readily to the pressure brought on it by the pipes, when filled, and in this connec tion 1 would -point out that, in the length from Northam to Meenaar, a distance of 16^ miles, the figures for which I personally looked into yes terday, the number of actual leaks ex isting on 'June 3 was 18, on July 1 nine, and on July 31, 15; and it has to be remembered that the mainten ance gang on this length is kept con stantly rc-caulking the leaks as they appear. These leaks were clue, I think, to the pipes settling during their first winter, and if this occurs in a section which has been carrying the water satisfactorily for some months now, it would be nothing too much if j even the wliplc 10 per cent, of the sub sidences 1 mention- above were due to leakage. I trust I have now said suf ficient as regards this phase of the subject to show' that there is no need for disquietude as to the ultimate suc cess of the work, and, I- will just add that, in the late Mr. O'Connor's ori ginal estimate of the working expenses, there is .provided a sum for mainten ance of the pipe line and the other j works, which sum, so far as I can see, : wiO not 'be exceeded. . s '2. Coming now to details, it will be readily conceived that my chief anxiety, as regards 'this particular section^ was to'get-the;A-ater to the highest point, ! andto continue .pumping for such time thereafter, as would provide a good test for the joints the water can reach, b }??? gravity ' f rom . Cunderdin tank, to railway mileage. 127, and, after one or two short preliminary runs, 24 hours ,pumping was put in by the contrac tors, arid.the wjater was taken over the highest ?pdint above mentioned,^ and muse hayeVfilled;:, some five miles of pipes- ijd - the ^next valley. So far, everything was. right; it was therefore determined M' press on further, and pumping1 wasv restarted on the aiter ncon of' the 3 1 st. ultimo, and continued to midnight,: by which time the water must . have reached 10 miles beyond ihr highest point above' mentioned, when, unfortunately, further pumping had to be stopped, owing to two seri ous leaks which had developed, one at mileage 12034 and the other at mileage i2Q With reference to the charges

that have been made against one cf the officers on the pipe track, Mr. Law. I wiii add that, during the period of pumpiug he wa-:\ watch ing the track, and., .in fact, onlyi re ached. Cunderdin \at 9 o'clock/ vvithout haviiig ' noticed ^n^rseriouvjdefect?^;--;: . v ; ??:????:? :--^,: \i 'The, two largest lea.ks /-I iiave meii ttioned 'above ^yere- _:qc£: diie,;'. \S censid erv- to defective, pipei:,' althougii v/Lea yufe ..leakage ??'r-jse ?&- a lar^'e yjiioiar^t- it was through the v/pi'p^, '? .??3a3d----:o;,':the'iVjoiiic,: that was . escaping ;r:on£. of the. pipes I saw myself; and'it- is- now: at: mileage 1203^2, an-i I .propose presently to have a section cut 'eft' the damaged end and brought into Perch ; but, assuming that these two pipes did actually burit, it would still be a matter of congratuia tior. 'that ihe number cf bursts was so small,' being only two pipes out of over ocoo — a iesull' which, from per sonal experience, I can1 say would not have b'een obtained had cast-iron pipes been used'. These two damaged ,pipes are being replaced, as also' arc two others, which escaping water has scored: and all the joints above men tioned, where subsidences at manholes have occurred, are being uncovered, and, if necessary, will be rc-caulked before the next test is made. '3. Coming now to the question of the loss which the country is said to have sustained during the recent opera tions, 1 may state that, apart from trial runs of the machinery — the ac tual time occupied in pumping was 40 hours, and if the water pumped during this 'time had all been wasted the whole' cost, of this very necessary test would have been under ^50 ; but not more than, one-third of the water pumped can1 have been lost from the pipes, and. of this even only a small quantity was lost' through leakage, the balance being- purposely wasted in or der that the damaged pipes might be got at. As a matter; of fact, ,my cal culations show that from the worst of all leaks 'the whole 'quantity of water /that' could have .escaped is not more , than 15,000 gallons: and ? it is not likely: 1 think, that out of the whole five million gallons put into the pipes even 100.000 could have been lost through leakages during the whole of .the Dumping. - '4. With' reference to the other points the Hon. the Minister has de sired a report on, I -need only state - thai I am personally in favor of the ? use of Collie coal in this State before all others, and my . actions have al ready proved this-; and, moreover, this coal has been in use at the pump ing stations, and will continue tp be. used.. Occasionally, for various rea sons, by .no means .to the detriment of the coal, it has been necessary to get. Newcastle coal, but this, of course, wi'I be avoided whenever possible. '5. With reference to the fact that the draw-off from the Cunderdin dam. is 13ft. above the bottom, I w,ould stai;e that in my 'opinion it would have been entirely wrong tp have attempted to place the ; draw-off anywhere near the bottomy,. as it would have entailed heavy and unnecessary expenditure, without a commensurate result; and, with reference to the. distance! that the pumps .are from the tank, .1 would point out that it has long since been 'arranged to, place a, stand pipe at the pumping -station, and , th'at this expe ?dient is preferable _ to1 the -' alternative of. placing 'the lptimjping \station near the' Cuiiderdin , tank.' ' / ' - j!c6: Although my report has' reached this' great length, '.in 'the desire to ex plain everything as N£ully, as possible | '(and I hope nothing- has escaped no tice}/ 'I ' would like, in , conclusion', to point but that in- dealing with this mat ter I am' reporting on work which was j not carried- out by, me. Therefore, Ij hope that what I now say' will cany | full weight, namely, 'that the pines are j not defective, that the joining. is not bad,, that it would ( have been, in my opinion, needless expenditure to pro vide any special seating* for the pipes, and ^that the results, of the, pumping tests 'are, I think, distinctly encourag ing as to the work carried .out;' and, in fact, that it is a matter of congratu lation that the defects are so few, for taking the results obtained elsewhere they might have been -very many more, and it- i§ ' impossible to; expect ' that there would have been none. '7. One point, however, affects me personally, and .that, is' that -it could have been thougght that I cither had been in ignorance of' what was going on or that I had not informed the hon. Minister of anything serious that might have come to my, knowledge. In this connection I would state that I was in', constant communication by tele phone with the officers who were actual ly carrying out tests^ and I duly\ in formed the hon'.' Minister of such facts as seemed necessary so 'soon as they came to my knowledge. It wo.uld have been possible, therefore, to have stat ed the facts generally, and at once; when I was first called on. for' ajreportj and this ? I would have done had the information not been published in the press before the department was refer red to; but after publication I consi dered it best 'that I should look actual ly into the matters on the spot, so as to be able to spcakjfrom personal ex amination, and by that means (and being, from the circumstances, an in 1 dependent1 witness) allay, if possible, , all anxiety in the matter. 'S. I would earnestly deprecate pub lication by the press of damaging statements concerning the work of the department before it is actually ascer tained whether the statements are cor rect or not, for it is quite possible to satisfy any reasonable person in a few minutes' conversation as to what amount of weight should be attached to such statements; whereas, after publication, it is not possible, so far as I am con cerned, to reply to them after detailed investigation, and for much of this I have not the time, and moreover, i i think I should not be called on to give ! the time to1 such detailed investiga tions, since it can be far more profit ably employed on the general control which must be exercised by me. I am j perfectly satisfied with my officcrs,with j the pipes and the jointings, and I have | no doubt that we can carry the work through successfully if given the chance to do^so, and if our time is not to be occupied in any extent in future in dealing with the statements of any ir responsible persons who choose to make them.'

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