Editor’s note: The following historical editorial was originally published in The Bulletin on March 10, 1919.
On Saturday we presented estimates presented by local plumbers to show the cost of the average sanitary toilet installation which the city council is considering ordering for every house in the city where water is available. Our object in doing so was not to suggest argument against the plan of the council for if we are to have a healthy city the thing must be done.
What we intended, rather, was to give some idea of the magnitude of the job and to suggest thereby how important it is that the council proceed with somewhat more regard for the necessities of the situation then it gave promise of doing at the last meeting.
For instance, in the ordinance brought up last week, May 1 was the set date by which every house in town must be supplied with the fixtures ordered. With a minimum of 500 houses to be supplied and an average of two days work for each job there are 1,000 days for one man, or, for the two plumbers now in business here, 500 days. Of course, when the work started other plumbers would come in and it is a small matter of figuring to find how long it would take with any stated number of men working steadily. We doubt, however, if the most optimistic view of a plumber’s speed could see the job done by May 1.
The matter of cost is also to be taken into account. In spite of the recent reductions plumbing supplies are still high. The future, however, holds promise of lower costs, and those to whom the proposed ordinance would chiefly apply are not only entitled to, but need, the advantage of every saving that can be made in this work.
In our opinion the whole matter should begin with the adoption by the city of a modern and comprehensive plumbing code. The code might include, or could at once be followed by an ordinance as planned ordering the installation of the necessary fixtures. Such ordinance should be prepared with the utmost care, not only taking into account the time limit within which the work must be finished but making regulations that will be enforceable to insure that the work will be done in every house in town.
In the meantime, the health authorities should see that the condition which now exists are made as near right as may be possible by the use of cleanliness, disinfectants, screens and the elimination of flies.