The progress in sanitation on the Continent, America, and the colonies has not been coincident with the progress in England, but these countries have largely benefited by the experience of the United Kingdom, and in some respects their specialists take more extreme views than those of this country in matters of detail. This is, perhaps, more particularly the case with the Americans, who have devised all sorts of exceptional details in connection with private drainage, in order to protect the interior of the houses from sewer gas, and to perfect its ventilation. In plumbing matters they seem also to be very advanced, and to have established examinations for plumbers and far-reaching regulations for house drainage.
Time will not permit me to examine into the works of a sanitary character which have been undertaken in the several countries after the example of England, but they have been attended with similar beneficial results and saving in life and sickness as in this country, although the Continental towns which have led the way with such works cannot as yet point to the low rates of mortality for large towns which have been attained in England, with the exception of the German towns of Carlsruhe, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, and Stuttgart, which show death rates of 20.55, 20.64, 22, and 21.4 respectively. The greatest reduction of the mortality by the execution of proper sewerage and water works took place in Danzig, on the Baltic, and Linz, on the Danube, where after the execution of the works the mortality was reduced by 7.85 and 10.17 per 1,000 respectively, and in the case of Danzig this reduction is almost exclusively in zymotic diseases. Berlin is also a remarkable example of the enterprise of German sanitarians, for there they are demonstrating to the world the practicability of dealing with the sewage from a population of over 1¼ million upon 16,000 acres of land, of which about 10,000 acres are already under irrigation.
In taking this chair, it has been usual, when meetings have been held out of London, for your president to give some account of the works of his own town. In the present instance I feel that I can dispense with this course, in so far as that I need not do more than generally indicate what has been the course of events since I read to a largely attended district meeting in May, 1884, a paper on "The Public Works of Leicester." At that time large flood prevention works were in course of construction, under an act obtained in 1881, for continuing the river improvement works executed under previous acts. The works then under contract extended from the North Mill Lock and the North Bridge on the north to the West Bridge and Bramstone Gate Bridge on the south, along the river and canal, and included bridges, weirs, retaining walls, and some heavy underpinning works in connection with the widening and deepening of the river and canal. These works were duly completed, as well as a further length of works on the River Soar up to what is known as the old grass weir, including the Braunstone Gate Bridge, added to one of the then running contracts, at a total cost, excluding land and compensation, of £77,000. At this point a halt was made in consequence of the incompleteness of the negotiations with the land owners on the upper reach of the river, and this, together with various other circumstances, has contributed to greater delay in again resuming the works.
In the interval, a question of whether there should be only one channel for both river and canal instead of two, as authorized by the act, has necessarily added considerably to the delay. But as that has now been settled in favor of the original parliamentary scheme, the authority of the council has been given to proceed with the whole of the works.
One contract, now in progress, which members will have an opportunity of inspecting, was let to Mr. Evans, of Birmingham, in March last, for about £18,000. It consists of a stone and concrete weir, 500 feet in length, with a lock of 7 feet 6 inches lift and large flood basins, retaining and towing path walls, including a sunk weir parallel with the Midland Railway viaduct. This contract is to be completed by March next. The remainder of the works about to be entered upon include a new canal and flood channel about 1,447 yards long, and the deepening and widening of the River Soar for a length of about 920 yards, with two or three bridges.
Abstract from the presidential address delivered before the Association of Municipal and Sanitary Engineers and Surveyors, at the annual meeting in Leicester, July 18, 1887.