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WATER AND WASTES.
The problems of water supply and disposal of sewage in mining towns are briefly discussed in the following chapter. These important sanitary factors will later be discussed more fully in special publications.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR WATER SUPPLY.
If an epidemic breaks out in a municipality whose citizens through ignorance or willingness to "take a chance" elect to drink polluted water, they are the unfortunate victims of their own shortcomings;
but in a company-controlled town conditions are different, and the furnishing of safe, wholesome water is one of the gravest responsibilities accompanying this system of town control.
With the exception of air, water is perhaps the most important single element vitally affecting the health of every man, woman, and child in the community. Running water within the house should be regarded as a necessary article in a mining town, and not as a luxury. A spigot in the yard or in the street may have been sufficient for the "camp," but it is not in keeping with town life. The necessity of having good water should exert a powerful influence on the selection of the town site. The water system should have the approval
of a competent sanitary engineer; his resourcefulness and wide experience with this phase of town building will be a guaranty against future regrets.
SOURCES OF WATER SUPPLY.
In many of the established mining towns the introduction of an expensive water system is impracticable, but reasonable measures should be taken to improve the unsatisfactory conditions that exist. Shallow dug wells with rope and bucket are in common use, and these are particularly susceptible to pollution when found in conjunction with other insanitary conditions. The most effective step toward improving the water supply from shallow wells is the abolishment of neighboring insanitary privies, stables, and pigsties.
It is easier to protect bored wells from pollution than dug wells, and if palatable water can be obtained at moderate depths wells should be bored throughout the village and equipped with easily operated hand pumps. If it is necessary to drill very deep for water, at least one such well should be drilled and equipped with a gasoline pump and the water distributed to taps situated at convenient places in the settlement.
If there is in the vicinity a spring that flows the year round and the water proves satisfactory upon analysis, it may be used for drinking and cooking; water from wells will do for washing and other household uses. The spring should be concreted to prevent local contamination, and the immediate surroundings and approaches to the spring should be improved and beautified. Periodical bacteriologic examination of the water should be made.
Unless no other source of supply is available at reasonable cost, drinking water should not be obtained from cisterns, although cisterns may be used to good advantage to supply water for general housework. In old mining towns unsightly conditions often develop in connection with the collection of rain water. Old tubs, kegs, and buckets of all shapes are kept around the kitchen door for the purpose of storing up the rain water. Mosquitoes breed in these vessels, with the result that skin inflammation, sleepless nights, and malaria follow. If it is necessary to collect rain water in the absence of cisterns, the company should furnish a neatly painted 50-gallon barrel, which should stand above the ground and be protected in such a way as to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it.
The united and continued efforts of every one in the community are necessary if mosquito breeding is to be prevented. The company's efforts in draining swamps or filling in lowlands will be frustrated if careless tenants permit tin cans or broken crockery to lie around and collect stagnant water. All weeds in the yards, streets, and alleys should be cut, as they not only in themselves furnish sheltering places for mosquitoes but they conceal broken bottles and old shoes which will hold sufficient water for hundreds of "wigglers" to be hatched.
DISPOSAL OF WASTES FROM KITCHEN SINK.
When water is piped into the house some method of disposing of the waste from the kitchen sink must be provided. Individual leaching cesspools are unsatisfactory, chiefly because they do not remove the wastes from the zone of habitation. The soil surrounding the cesspool soon becomes saturated and choked with foulness, and rancid odors are given off which destroy the wholesomeness and healthfulness of the dwelling site. On warm sultry nights the odor is particularly obnoxious, but the evil is going on to just as great an extent at all times.
In the absence of an underground sewer system, perhaps the best method is to build open concrete street gutters and utilize these for removing the kitchen wastes. The gutters are open to inspection at all times and can be flushed out regularly. In some cases it may be feasible to circulate mine water through the gutter system, which greatly improves conditions.
WASH AND CHANGE HOUSE.
It may not be practicable to install stationary bathtubs in all the individual houses. A cheaper and better arrangement, as far as the miners themselves are concerned, is the establishment of a wash and change house (Pl. V, 4) at the mine mouth. These houses are being rapidly introduced at many mines throughout the United States. and their merits will be briefly discussed here. A paper on wash and change houses is being prepared and will be presented in a later publication of the bureau.
Mining necessarily is dirty work, but it does not follow that the miners should carry the evidence of their day's toil through the
a For a fuller discussion of mosquito prevention see Howard, L. O., Remedies and preventives against mosquitoes: Farmer's Bulletin 444, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. April,