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East Cowes

Water Supply 1911

On Thursday 11th May 1911 a Local Government Board inspector [Mr.A,A,G. Malet, M.inst.C.E.] held a public inquiry at the Town Hall in East Cowes into the District Council application to borrow £3,500 to construct a new reservoir. The proposed reservoir would be built at the top of York Avenue.

The council’s clerk [Atherstone Damant] opened the enquiry by giving the current financial situation and said “The council’s indebtedness on sanitary loans amounted to £14,886 1s 4d”. The inspector then asked “is water not a profitable undertaken” A reply was given “I cannot say it is, I am afraid that expenditure considerably exceeds receipts”.

Mr Barton [surveyor] stated that the average consumption of water was 100,000 gallons per day. of which 20/25,000 was used by business. The water to supply this demand came from two wells located at the engine house. A new well 104ft deep had a yield of 6,300 gallons per hour, the old well sunk to a depth of 99ft had a yielded of 1,600 gallon per hour which made a total capacity of 7,900 per hour. It was only recently that the two well had been coupled together. The water gathered was then pumped to a water tower from which it was distributed. Surplus water was fed into the reservoir in Newport Road, which had a capacity of 520,000 gallons. However due to the bad state of the reservoir they were losing between 25 and 50% of the stored capacity. They had brought this matter before the District Council as the leakage rate could only get worse, and recommended that a new reservoir by constructed.

The council had accepted these recommendations, and decided if money was available, to build a 1,000.000 reservoir at the highest point in the town. Plans had been prepared to build the reservoir in brick and concrete but the estimated cost of £6,000 was higher the expected. They had therefore decided to use Ferro-concrete a material that was widely used in reservoir construction.

The design propose to divided the new structure in two sections to allow cleaning of either half if the need arose without effecting the towns water supply. The proposed new location would also allow almost all the property in the town to have piped water, the only exception being a few houses on higher ground. The current arrangement meant that only houses in the lower part of the town could be supplied from the reservoir, the remaining property had to rely on supplies from the water tower which only had a capacity of 30,000 gallons.

Replying to a question from the inspector Mr Barton said that the yield of water from the boreholes had not altered in the last two and a half years. The capacity of the large reservoir was rated at 420,000 gallons and the small one 100,000, but because of the high leakage rate the total capacity could never be used. When the water got to about 8ft in depth the leakage was estimated at 50%, so the reservoir had to be kept below this level where the leakage was about 25%. The designed capacity of the reservoir at 8ft was 330,000.

The inspector then asked what age the reservoirs were, to which the reply was given the small one was built 50 years ago and the larger one 35 years ago.

Map of east Cowes Reservoir
Water Reservior East Cowes [Ordinance Survey map 1936]

Further detailed evidence was then given by Mr Barton regarding the supply of water to the town.

As previously stated the reservoirs could only provide water to the level of the town hall therefore the water tower which only held 30,000 gallons had to supply the majority of the town. If they had insufficient water available in the tower they had to use water from the reservoirs with the resultant drop in pressure. The depth of water held in the tower was 11ft and the proposed new reservoir would have a depth of 16ft.

Mr Barton was then asked by the inspector for details of work carried and the result of the test borings. The following information was given; the initial borehole last October had gone down to 450ft without finding water, a further loan had been obtained and the drilling had gone down to 600ft, they were now down to 700ft. The inspector then raised the question what would happen if they failed to find water in the test bore hole and would it effect the location of the proposed reservoir. To which the answer was given, no as they had sufficient water from the existing bore holes and the chosen location was the highest point they could get. Questions were asked about water pressure in the case of fire and Mr. Baron responded by saying that water from the tower could be used.

The inspector then moved on to the construction of the reservoir and said design and construct were very important when Ferro-concrete was the chosen material, there had been failures using this method; and the Local Government Board was anxious that the local authority was protected.

Mr Kahn the patentee of the ferro-concrete system in response to the inspector, said that his company gave a guarantee with their work .

Mr Floyd [District Council], said he was almost the prime mover behind the scheme which he fully supported as said the existing reservoirs were small and built half way down the hill there were unable to supply all the town. The existing ones were dirty and leaked; the new ones would allow more of the town to received clean water. The population had nearly doubled in the last 10 years due the increased work in shipbuilding and the Navel College and it was essential that a new water supply was provided.

Mr Damant said they would like early confirmation of the loan approval and the town council would like the maximum time available to repay the loan. The inquiry closed with thanks being given to the inspector.

Editors Note; - The sequel to this inquiry has not been located, but the reservoir was built, and its outline is still visible in 2011.

Source: Isle of wight County Press 13th May, 1911.

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:25

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