FEBRUARY 14, 1950
NEW YORK, Monday—The problem of water supply in New York City continues a serious one. This metropolis has been growing in many ways and there evidently has not been enough planning ahead to meet the needs of a city of this size.
It probably would be better for all of us if we did not concentrate in one place in this way. But so long as we are here we must cope with the situation—and it is a serious problem. No amounts of appeals for voluntary curtailment of use seems to do the trick. One reason is, I suppose, that we use so much water unconsciously. People have always been wasteful, and it is difficult overnight to change our habits.
The Citizens' Union has made some very good suggestions. This group wants to install water meters immediately, which would be a check on the individual family's use as well as on the industrial use. In the second place, it suggests expanding the inspection force so that there can be well-trained men all the year checking on leaks and waste in the water system and preventing violations of water service regulations. Lastly, it would like to carry on all through the year a public information program to bring to the attention of all the citizens of the city the seriousness of the long-range problems as well as of the present emergency.
We must make up our minds where our water is going to come from five or 10 years from now when the population will have vastly increased.
I can hear someone who listened to our television show yesterday afternoon saying: "What's the use? We may not be here." This may be perfectly true but we have to behave as though the people of the world will come to their senses and get on together. We can't stand still and hope for that happy event to occur in the future. We must go on living day by day in the present.
From Collinsville, Ill., I have a letter from Karl L. Monroe, who tells me that because their hills have been stripped of trees they often have disastrous floods in the bottom lands of the East St. Louis hinterlands. He says no big system of dams can solve this problem. The only way to cope with the situation is to replace the trees and the brush which used to catch the water where it fell.
Then he tells me of another problem they have. There are a number of transient families that, because conditions are not very good where they are, try to move on to other states in search of work. In doing that, they soon find that conditions are not much better anywhere and that they are not eligible for relief as they would be if they had stayed home. He says it would be far better if the people would get the help of agencies which are available and stay in the counties and states where they have lived and can get help.
I think there is a great deal of truth in this because I have often listened to sad stories of people who have moved and found too late that they were no longer able to count on state or county help.