Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Southwestern States
Arkansas Little Rock

Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock was incorporated in 1831.

The first waterworks were built by the Little Rock Water Works Company and began operation on July 5, 1878.

From the late 1880s to the mid-1930s, a succession of investor-owned utilities served Little Rock and North Little Rock. On the north side of the Arkansas River, the private interests included the Home Water Company, Little Rock Water Works Company, American Water Works & Electric Company, North Little Rock Water Company, and Arkansaw Water Works Company. On the south side of the river, the companies included the former three, plus the Arkansaw Water Works Company.

The Arkansaw Water Works Company owned the Little Rock system from 1910 to 1936, when the City of Little Rock, after securing a federal grant and loan, purchased facilities serving the south side of the river. The North Little Rock Water Company owned the North Little Rock system from 1936 to 1959, when the City of North Little Rock purchased facilities serving its corporate boundaries and its rural customers. Following the acquisitions by the respective cities, separate three-member governing water boards were appointed to oversee operations, planning, and expansions of the municipal utilities.

 On March 5, 2001, city and water officials signed a historic consolidation agreement. On July 1, 2001, the utilities officially merged human resources and operations.

The waterworks are currently owned by Central Arkansas Water, which has a good history page.

1871 Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), June 30, 1871, Page 4.
Judge Yonley presented in person, accompanied by a few remarks, a petition on behalf of the Little Rock Water Works Company, composed of U. M. Rose, S. H. Tucket, W. W. Wilshire, Walter Wittenberg, T. D. W. Yonley, and others, asking for the exclusive privilege of erecting water-works for the city for a term of sixty years.

1871 Water Works Ordinance, July 15, 1871.
The president of the city council and clerk of this city are empowered and directed to enter into a written agreement, under their hands and the seal of the city, with the Little Rock Water company, for supplying the city and inhabitants thereof with water, giving said company the exclusive privilege in respect thereof for the term of sixty years from July 15, 1871, on proper terms, and on condition that the works of said company shall be constructed within three rears from said July 15, 1871, so as to supply this city and its inhabitants with all the water that may be needed by them.

1880 An ordinance reaffirming, re-enacting and readopting the Ordinance entitled, "An ordinance in relation to waterworks and granting certain rights and privileges to the company known as the Home Water Company," passed December 9, 1880.

1881 Little Rock Water Works Company, Appt., v. John G. Barrett, et al., 103 U.S. 516, April 18, 1881, United States Supreme Court.

1882 Little Rock from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

1883 Little Rock, Engineering News, 10:52 (February 3, 1883)

1888 "Little Rock," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1890 "Little Rock," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Little Rock," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1897 "Little Rock," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1940 North Little Rock Water Co. v. Water Works Commission of the City of Little Rock, 199 Ark. 773, 136 S.W.2d 194, decided by this court on January 29, 1940.

1935 The Municipal Water System of Greater Little Rock, Ark., by Little Rock Municipal Water Works

1944 Water Wks. Comm. of L. R. v. N. L. R. Water Co., 180 S.W.2d 526 (Ark. 1944)

2000  Water for Our Future: Overcoming Regional Paralysis, A report by the Water Study Task Force, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, September, 2000.  Includes a brief history of the system.

2015 Morris A. Pierce