Kansas Public Water Supplies — A Century of Progress

(1) Dwight F. Metzler, P.E. Early Systems


The opportunity to share my experience and views with this body is a welcome one, for it gives me the pleasurable opportunity of acknowledging the leadership of many outstanding individuals past and present as well as visiting with many old friends.

Mr. Robinson, in extending the invitation to me last summer, asked for a historical review of public water supplies in Kansas during the last century, including the problems faced, the systems designed, and the people who have contributed to progress. My association with Kansas during the past 40 years has given me a great deal of respect for those early pioneers such as Dr. McClintock, Dr. Johnson, Colonel Tweeddale, Professors F.O. Marvin, EHS Bailey, Barber, W.C. Hoad, Earnest Boyce, Dr. Samuel Crumbine, and many others who contributed to the safe public water supplies which we enjoy today.

Any attempt to cover the history of public water supply in Kansas in a single speech must be sketchy at best, but, to help in organizing our thoughts I will discuss:

  1. The early public health problems associated with drinking water,
  2. The water men and women who were the leaders for change,
  3. The evolution in water works practice, and
  4. The attempts to deal with large variations in supply during flood and drought. I will not attempt to trace the history of the American Water Works Association in Kansas through the Missouri Valley Section and later the Kansas Section AWWA. I hope that someone will do so at later date.

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