Henry Darcy's Public Fountains of the City of Dijon
Patricia Bobeck
Geotechnical Translations
Austin, Texas

Henry Darcy's law of fluid flow through porous media forms the basis of hydrogeology. Experiments on water flow through sand led Darcy to formulate the empirical law that he published in1856 as an appendix to his book Les Fontaines publiques de la ville de Dijon. Darcy wrote the book to describe the construction of Dijon's water supply system in 1839–40 and to provide practical guidance to engineers involved in similar projects. Darcy's water supply system transformed Dijon from a pestilential provincial capital to the second-best city in Europe (after Rome) in terms of water supply and quality. A recent English translation of Darcy's 650-page book, scheduled for publication in 2003, provides valuable information on the historical context of Darcy's Law.

As a young Engineer of the Corps of Bridges and Roads assigned to his native city, Darcy gauged nearby springs and selected an abundant spring to divert to Dijon via a 12-km underground aqueduct. In 1839–1840, he built two reservoirs, 13 kilometers of pipes and 115 street fountains in Dijon. These fountains supplied free water for all inhabitants, water for flushing the streets, and water for fire pumps.

The book contains 4 parts and an appendix. Part 1 describes the historical water situation of Dijon and proposals to provide water for its residents. Part 2 discusses the construction of the aqueduct and the internal distribution system. Part 3 presents experiments that Darcy conducted on the aqueduct and distribution system. Part 4 discusses the expropriation of the springs, which belonged to a nearby village. The appendix contains eight sections on such topics as the water supply systems of London and major French cities, artificial and natural filtration of river water, and pipe making. Appendix D contains the experiments that Darcy conducted in developing his law of fluid flow through porous media. A separate 28-plate atlas includes Darcy's drawings of the components of the Dijon water supply system, the Pitot tube, and the apparatus Darcy used for the experiments that led to the formulation of Darcy's Law.

Patricia Bobeck has master's degrees in geology and linguistics from the University of Texas and the University of Michigan, respectively, and a bachelor's degree in French from Rosary College (now Dominican University).

Ms. Bobeck currently works as geologist for the Bureau of Radiation Control of the Texas Dept. of Health where she oversees geological aspects of uranium licensing. She previously supervised hazardous waste cleanups for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. For her master's thesis, she mapped a 40-square-mile-area and studied the structure and petrography of the Tertiary age sill that makes up Nine Point Mesa, Brewster County, Texas. In addition, Ms. Bobeck translates French and Spanish geologic literature into English. She studied French in Switzerland and France and learned Spanish while teaching English in the Dominican Republic and Colombia. She perfected her Spanish on a solo trip by train and bus across Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. She has served as interpreter on scientific expeditions to Mexico and Peru. She has also studied German, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese.

She has served as AGS Vice-President, President-elect and President in 1995–98, as Administrator of the Science and Technology Division of the American Translators Association for two terms from 1995 to 1999, and as President of the Austin Area Translators and Interpreters Association for two terms in the early 1990s. Ms. Bobeck is also a "member" of the Barton Springs Polar Bear Club.