A great deal has been said and written about the infection of ponds, ditches, and even of small pools or puddles, as some of them may be called, with the germs of parasites which are easily swallowed by animals grazing on grounds where such contaminated pools exist. While this fact is fully recognized by stock-owners, it is remarkable that they seem to prefer to trace an outbreak of parasitic disease among their lambs, sheep, and calves to any cause rather than the one which lies before them. From the circumstances of the case it is much easier to point to the sources of contamination of water, and to reason from the disastrous results which are occasionally traced to its use, and to those equally disastrous results which are referred to other causes than the right one, than it is to suggest means for rectifying the evil. The difficulties which stand in the way of providing a pure water-supply are in many cases absolutely insurmountable and in all cases extremely difficult. The celebrated engineer, the late Mr, Bailey Denton, spent a considerable portion of his life in trying to force public attention to the importance of water-storage. He constantly pointed out the very liberal quantity which was supplied every year in the form of rain, every inch which fell during a shower representing nearly a hundred tons of water to an acre, the whole of which amount is in the majority of cases allowed to soak into the ground wastefully, at least so far as its dietetic use is concerned. It may contribute to the growth of herbage, but it may, on the other hand, saturate the soil which is already useless on account of its marshy character. With a proper system of storage, such water, which is in excess of the immediate requirements either of the land or the animals upon it, could be preserved for future use; the only reason why it is not so preserved would seem to be the indifference of the authorities to the benefits which would be secured by such a course.
In the neighbourhood of large towns the system of water-storage is usually carried out by the means of reservoirs, but in rural districts the hardships of a water famine have constantly to be endured in consequence of the absence of any means of storing. Presumably the question is one of cost, and it unfortunately happens that those districts which suffer most from scarcity of water in dry seasons are least capable of supplying funds for the formation of the required reservoirs.
A due recognition of the importance of a liberal supply of water for hygienic purposes in thinly populated districts as well as in populous would be naturally followed by the adoption of a proper system of inspection for the purpose of ascertaining the quality of the water, including its degree of hardness, whether arising from excess of carbonate of lime or from other lime salts which cannot be got rid of, and the employment of the proper means for the purpose of correcting any objectionable characteristics prior to the distribution of the fluid.
Means for these purposes are easily applied under the circumstances referred to, but they are absolutely impracticable so long as the supply of water is drawn from ponds or from wells which in many places are open to pollution which can neither be prevented nor corrected.