|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
San Jose was incorporated in 1850.
Local resident and foundry owner Donald McKenzie petitioned the Common Council in 1864 for the "privilege of erecting water works," which was apparently granted and involved building a reservoir and "laying down pipes in the principal streets", along with keeping "the various public cisterns constantly filled for use in case of fire." The Report of the Chief Engineer of the Fire Department of San Jose in February, 1865, noted that a cistern at the corner of San Antonio and Second streets was "supplied with water from the artesian well at the Foundry."
On February 17, 1865, the city of San Jose granted to Donald McKenzie and his assigns the exclusive right to use the public streets of San Jose "to supply the inhabitants of the City of San Jose with good and pure water for the term of twenty-five years." The following year, McKenzie assigned these rights the San Jose Water Company.
The San Jose Water Company was incorporated on November 21, 1866 by Donald McKenzie and John Bonner of San Jose, and Anthony Chabot, of Oakland with a capital stock of $100,000 for a term of fifty years. The property was transferred to the San Jose Water Works in 1916. The San Jose Water Works was acquired by General Water Works and Electric Company in October 1929, and was reincorporated as the San Jose Water Company on October 24, 1931.
Water is provided by the City of San Jose, the San Jose Water Company and the Great Oaks Water Company. Most water is provided by the the San Francisco Regional Water System.
1855 "Success of the Public Artesian Well in San Jose," California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences 4(7):51 (August 17, 1855)
The supply of water obtained, in this well, at the depth of 235 feet, not being as great as the contract with the city required, the boring operations were continued. The Telegraph says: The pipe put down is seven inches in diameter, and for the purpose of securing the water already obtained, a six-inch diameter pipe was procured and letdown to the depth of the stream first reached, the water from it flowing up within the space between the two pipes. This arranged, the operators proceeded to bore deeper with a six-inch auger, and on Monday morning, fifteen feet below the stream first reached, or 250 feet below the surface of the ground, struck a bold current of water, which sends up with tremendous velocity one of the largest, if not the very largest stream of water yet obtained in this valley from Artesian wells. The quantity discharged is ample, and more than ample for the supply of the population of a large city, and all the wants of the fire department. Already plans are talked of, and being formed, for carrying the water in aqueducts through the most populous parts of the city. The Council will doubtless take early action on the subject.
Jose Mercury, May 5, 1864, Page 3
Common Council, May 2d, 1864. A petition was received from Mr. Donald McKenzie, requesting the privilege of erecting water works, and an Ordinance granting the prayer of petitioner was read. On motion, the whole matter was referred to a Special Committee of three. The Mayor appointed the following members of the Council as said Committee: Messrs. Porter, Magenheimer and Hobson.
Jose Mercury, June 9, 1864, Page 3
Common Council, June 6th 1864. The committee to whom was referred the petition of Mr. D. McKenzie in relation to erecting water works, reported favoraby upon the same, and recommended that the Ordinance Committee be instructed to report an ordinance granting the prayer of the petitioner. On motion, the report was received and adopted.
San Jose Mercury, June 23, 1864, Page 3
We learn that Mr. Kenzie of the Foundry, intends to erect a large reservoir, and, by permission of the city, lay down water pipe through the principal streets, for the purpose of furnishing the public with pure water. He will also keep the various public cisterns constantly filled for use in case of fire.
Council Proceedings," San Jose Mercury, February 9, 1865,
Feb. 6th, 1865. Also, an ordinance in relation to supplying San Jose with water, was read, and on motion was passed by the following vote: Ayes - Alds. Bonner, Hobson, Magenheimer, Porter and Pomeroy.
of the Chief Engineer of the Fire Department of San Jose," San
Jose Mercury, February 16, 1865, Page 3
Cisterns. There are six cisterns in the city for the use of the Department. One at the corner of San Antonio and Second streets, capacity twelve thousand gallons, condition good, is supplied with water from the artesian well at the Foundry.
Ordinance in relation to supplying the City of San Jose with water.
February 17, 1865. Charter and Revised Ordinances of the City of
San Jose. (1882)
Page 189: Section 1. The exclusive right is hereby granted to Donald McKenzie, and his assigns, to supply the inhabitants of the City of San Jose with good and pure water for the term of twenty-five years from and after the passage of this ordinance; provided, that he will complete his works and introduce good and pure water for use within eighteen months from the date of the passage of this ordinance.
1865 "Water Ordinance," San Jose Mercury, February 23, 1865, Page 2.
for 1866," Sacramento Daily Union, January 1, 1867, Page 6.
Nov. 24th - San Jose Water Company; 1,000 shares; capital stock, $1,000,000.
Sacramento Daily Union, August 1, 1868, Page 2.
In the Secretary of State's office yesterday, the San Jose Water Company filed articles of incorporation. This company is incorporated for the purpose of supplying with pure fresh water the city of San Jose and the towns of Santa Clara and Gilroy, Santa Clara county, and also for irrigating lands in the county, etc. Capital stock, $1,000,000, in 2,000 shares of $500 each. The principal place of business will be located in Oakland. Trustees for the first three months: Orrin Simmons, J.M. Ryder and Henry Durant.
of Capital Stock," Sacramento Daily Union, June 18, 1869,
The certificate of increase of capital stock of the San Jose Water Company from $100,000 to $300,000, was filed in the office of the Secretary of State, yesterday.
History of San José and Surroundings: With Biographical Sketches of
Early Settlers, by Frederic Hall
Pages 305-306: 1866. November 26th. The San Jose Water Company was organized by Messrs. D. M. Kenzie and John Bonner, of San Jose, and A. Chabot, of Oakland, with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars. The company obtained the exclusive water privileges for the city of San Jose and town of Santa Clara, for the term of twenty-five years. They constructed tanks, engines, laid water-pipes through the main streets in San Jose, and supplied the city with water from artesian wells, for the term of two years and six months. The volume of water thus obtained was insufficient to meet the demand, and the right to the use of the water in Los Gatos creek was procured. A reorganization of the company took place on the twelfth of December, 1868, at which time, the capital stock was increased to three hundred thousand dollars.
In November, 1869, the company commenced to build flumes and lay pipes, to convey the water from Los Gatos creek. In June, 1870, this water was thus conducted to the city. There has been constructed, and now in use, two miles of flume, and eight of thirteen-inch pipe to San Jose, and two miles of seven-inch, to Santa Clara. At about seven miles from San Jose, there is situate a reservoir with a capacity of two and one half millions of gallons. Within a distance of three and one half miles from the city; another is in process of construction, which is to have the capacity of three and one half millions of gallons. Twelve miles of the main pipe have been laid in San Jose, and it will be extended from time to time, as may be required. The officers of the company at present, are as follows: President, N.H.A. Mason; Treasurer, E. McLaughlin; Superintendent, C.H. Hobbs; Secretary, Wm. B. Rankin; Directors, N.H.A. Mason, A. Chabot, J.G. Bray, E. McLaughlin, and C.H. Hobbs.
Alta California, September 7, 1877, Page 4.
Died. In San Jose, September 6, Donald McKenzie, a native of Glasgow, Scotland.
American Pipe Company's Pipe," Pacific Rural Press (San
Francisco, California), 15(7):106 (February 16, 1878)
The President of the Santa Cruz Water company, Henry K. Moore, Esq. thus endorses the pipe in a letter in a letter addressed to the manager of the company: "I cheerfully comply with your request for my views respecting the Wyckoff combination pipe furnished by your company to the Santa Cruz Water company. Over 11 miles of the above pipe have been laid in the city of Santa Cruz. It has been in constant use for nearly 18 months under a pressure of not less than 150 pounds, and has stood the pressure admirably. We find that it works in every respect to our entire satisfaction, and we shall most decidedly give your pipe the preference in all extensions to be made by our company. In our opinion this pipe has decided advantages over iron pipe, such as saving of time and labor, in tapping and making connections, ease in repairing, cleanliness of water flowing in it, and great saving in cost and freight. With us the pipe is a success, and I can unhesitatingly recommend its use to to any town or corporation, or persons desiring pipe for water works of any kind."
of Santa Clara County, California: Including Its Geography, Geology,
Topography, Climatography and Description
Pages 534-534: San José Water Company.— On November 26, 1866, Donald McKenzie and John Bonner of San Jose., and A. Chabot, of Oakland, Alameda county, with a capital stock of one hundred thousand dollars established the concern now under notice. The city of San Jose. and the town of Santa Clara granted the exclusive water privileges for the term of twenty-five years, while to carry out their plan tanks were constructed, engines built, and the city supplied with water from artesian wells. At the end of two years the volume of fluid thus obtained was found insufficient for the growing wants of the community, therefore the right to use the water of the Los Gatos creek was obtained, and a new company formed in 1868 with an increased capital of three hundred thousand dollars, the incorporators being Donald McKenzie, A. Chabot, N.H.A. Mason, C.X. Hobbs, E. McLaughlin; and the officers, N.H.A. Mason, President: D. McKenzie, Vice-President, William B. Eankin, Secretary; C. X. Hobbs, Superintendent; E. McLaughlin, Treasurer. On the assumption of responsibility by the new association their first work was the condemning of the waters of the Los Gatos creek and the bringing of the fluid from the mountains. A reservoir was constructed on that road, about four miles from San José in that year; another was made four miles farther on, and the necessary pipes laid, those first put into position in the city being on First and Santa Clara streets, with lateral pipes to the other thoroughfares. It has been mentioned in our history of Redwood township that the water is taken from the tail-race of the mill at Los Gatos. It was originally conducted therefrom by flumes, but now it finds its way through pipes to the proper receptacles, whence it is carried into the town. In case of emergency the company have pumping works situated near Santa Clara street, on the west bank of the Los Gatos creek, whence they are prepared to supply the public. In the year 1870 water was conveyed to the town of Santa Clara, thus making the total length of piping belonging to the corporation to be about fifty-six miles. Including both San José and Santa Clara the average daily run is estimated at nearly two million gallons; San Jose, Santa Clara and Los Gatos are supplied free of charge for fire purposes, as is also the county. Water rates for the city of San Jose and town of Santa Clara are fixed by them; those outside of the corporate limits are established by the Board of Supervisors. The present officers are, President, E.D. Williams; Superintendent, Return Roberts; Secretary, D.A.S. Eyster; Treasurer, E. McLaughlin; Directors, E. D. Williams, Josiah Belden J. A. Moultrie, W. H. Ware, Frank Bray.
1882 San Jose, Engineering News, 10:321 (July 7, 1883)
1882 San Jose from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
of Anthony Chabot," Daily Alta California, January 7, 1888,
The originator of the San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Vallejo Water Systems.
1888 "San Jose," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
1890 "San Jose," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
1891 "San Jose," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
1897 "San Jose," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
on the Appraisement of Properties of the San Jose Water Company, San
Jose, California, December 31, 1913, by, F.C. Herrmann, G.A.
Elliott, Engineers | also here
Page 7. The San Jose Water Company was incorporated November 21, 1866, under the laws of the State of California, with a capital of $100,000.00. Up to that date San Jose had been supplied with water pumped from a well located at the corner of First and San Antonio streets; owned by Donald McKenzie. The San Jose Water Company took over the McKenzie plant and extended the service to include the suburbs of San Jose, the town of Los Gatos and vicinity and the town of Santa Clara. With the exception of Santa Clara, where a municipal waterworks was installed in 1895, and the addition of Saratoga and Alma, this is the field covered today.
1914 Gem City Packing Company vs. San Jose Water Company, April 11, 1914. Decisions of the Railroad Commission of the State of California, Volume 4
Monahan, as Mayor of the City of San Jose, vs. San Jose Water Company,
May 22, 1914. Decisions of the Railroad Commission of the
State of California, Volume 4
Page 1103: Santa Clara supply discontinued owing to construction of municipal waterworks.
1915 In the matter of the application of the San Jose Water Company for an increase in the water rates to the charged to the town of Los Gatos and the inhabitants thereof. August 2, 1915. California Railroad Commission Decisions, Volume 7.
the matter of the application of the San Jose Water Company and San Jose
Water Works, for an order authorizing the transfer of property and the
issue of common stock and notes payable, May 10, 1916, Decisions of
the Railroad Commission of the State of California, Volume 10.
Page 58: San Jose Water Company was incorporated under the laws of California on November 21, 1866, for a term of fifty years.
Page 63: On February 17, 1865, the city of San Jose granted to Donald McKenzie and his assigns the right to use the public streets of San Jose for the supply of its inhabitants of good and pure water for the term of twenty-five years. The rights secured under this ordinance were later assigned by McKenzie to San Jose Water Company.
1917 In the matter of the application of San Jose Water Works to buy, and of J.D. Farwell to sell, the water system of J.D. Farwell; and of San Jose Water Works for an order fixing rates to be charged by it on its new "High Line" to be built by it, and for rules and regulations concerning the same. November 27, 1917. Decisions of the Railroad Commission of the State of California, Volume 14
of Santa Clara County, by Eugene T. Sawyer
Page 163: Donald Mackenzie, in May, 1864, was granted permission to lay water pipes in the streets of the city. This was the beginning of the San Jose Water Company.
Pages 222-223: San Jose Water Works. The San Jose Water Company, afterwards the San Jose Water Works, was organized November 26, 1866, by Donald Mackenzie and John Bonner, of San Jose, and R. Chabot, of Oakland, with a capital stock of $100,000. The city of San Jose and the town of Santa Clara granted the company exclusive privileges for the term of twenty-five years. To carry out the plan of the owners, tanks were constructed, engines built, and the city of San Jose was supplied with water from artesian wells. At the end of two years the supply thus obtained was found insufficient for the growing wants of the community, therefore the right to use the water of Los Gatos Creek was obtained. A new company was formed in 1868 with the capital increased to $300,000. The officers were: N.H.A. Mason, president; D. Mackenzie, vice-president; W.B. Rankin, secretary; C. X. Hobbs, superintendent, and E. McLaughlin, treasurer.
On the formation of the new company, work to bring the waters of Los Gatos Creek to San Jose was begun. Reservoirs were made and pipes laid throughout the city, thus affording, for those times, a generous supply of water. Since that time other water rights have been acquired.
The equipment consists of the water from Los Gatos Creek and its tributaries, and Campbell Creek, besides a number of reservoirs, and is placed in divisions. The main surface supply of Los Gatos Creek is used for the San Jose division. The Los Gatos town system derives its main surface supply from Beardsley Creek and Cavanagh Creek. The Saratoga system depends on the high-line system operating on the hill sides between Los Gatos and Saratoga. In case of emergency Saratoga can draw on Beckwith Springs for surface supply. The stored water consists of the Lake Ranch reservoir, Howell reservoirs (2) for San Jose and Los Gatos; for supplementary supply to San Jose there are five pumping stations as follows: main station in the rear of the local office on Santa Clara Street, between the two bridges, with a capacity of from 6,000,000 to 9,000,000 gallons per day; station No. 2 on Monte Vista Avenue, near the O'Connor Sanitarium, with a capacity of from 5,000,000 to 7,000,000 gallons per day; station No. 3, at Seventeenth and Santa Clara Streets, with a capacity of from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons per day; station No. 4, on Bascom Avenue, with a capacity of from 2.000.000 to 3.000,000 gallons per day, and station No. 5, at Cottage Grove, with a capacity of 1,500,000 gallons per day. The supplementary of Los Gatos consists of two pumping stations, one at the Tisdale residence, capacity 800,000 gallons per day, and the other, called the hill well, with a capacity of 100,000 gallons per day. There is also the Alum Rock station, which has a capacity of 100.000 gallons per day.
The Company has about 14.000 subscribers. All the surface water is filtered through sand, then treated to a weak solution of chlorine — two parts to a million gallons of water — so as to kill typhoid and other disease germs. No case of typhoid or other contagious disease has ever been caused by water supplied by the San Jose Water Company. The water, therefore, which is used by the consumers, is absolutely pure. The company maintains its own laboratory and after tests have been made, samples of the water are sent to the State University as a check upon the San Jose analysis.
The annual report of the president for 1919 shows that the year closed with a surplus of revenue over expenses and dividends of $11,950.60. In addition to this increase there was carried to the reserve known as premium on capital stock, $7,725,000, thus making a total of $19,675.60 increase in these accounts. As on December 31, 1919, the company had no accounts payable on its books, and as all outstanding notes had been paid from sales of stock, the San Jose Water Works was then and now is, out of debt. The present officers are: Joseph R. Ryland. president; Paul S. Williams, vice-president; H. S. Kittredge, secretary, and J. B. Harmon, assistant secretary.
During 1919 the total revenue amounted to $256,460.16; total expense, $134,841.09. Profit for the year from operation, $121,619.07; dividends for year, $111,276.00; interest, $6,162.75; total. $117,438.75. Increase in surplus from operation, $4,180.32. The assets and liabilities for the year were : assets, $2,243,626.61; liabilities, $2,243,626.61. Under the head of liabilities is placed the capital stock, $1,009,100.00. The net assets are given as $2,089,810.34, showing that surplus of assets over par value of stock, is $80,710.34.
Pages 1048,1051: David Wight became well-known as an engineer in the Bay City, and in 1854 he removed to Vallejo, and assisted in the great work of constructing the Navy Yard. Indeed, to him belonged the distinction of having driven the first pile needed in that pretentious work. At the conclusion of his service, he returned to San Francisco and there founded the California Iron Works. The year 1870 brought severe reverses to the family, and they then removed to San Jose. David Wight, Sr., took charge of the iron foundry, owned by John and Donald McKenzie, and located at the corner of First and San Antonio streets, San Jose; and he also invested in a small home-place in The Willows.
1952 "San Jose is First,"
Record 38(4):12-13 (July 1952)
Page 13: McKenzie, who ran a foundry at the present Montgomery Hotel site, had been furnishing water to immediate neighbors from his well and twin tanks at Market and San Antonio streets. With the city franchise, he laid mains on First Street and along Santa Clara street.
1962 "San Jose," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker
Jose Reflections: An Illustrated History of San Jose, California and
Some of Surrounding Area, by Edith Brockway
Page 56: Donald Mackenzie was allowed to lay water pipes in the streets in 1864 to provide water for the town from the San Jose Water Company
Arbuckle's history of San Jose: chronicling San Jose's founding as
California's earliest pueblo in 1777, through exciting and tumultuous
history which paved the way for today's metropolitan San Jose : the
culmination of a lifetime of research, by Clyde Arbuckle
Pages 501-504: Water
Pages 505-509: San Jose Water Company
Page 505: The subject of piping water "beneath the streets" of San Jose came up for the Common Council's consideration
on October 15, 1851, but little was done about it at the time. A committee appointed to investigate the feasibility of the project did not get around to reporting on it until July 3, 1854. Their report recommended using redwood pipes to convey water from the Acequia to fire department cisterns here and there about the city.
By that time, the artesian rush was on, and the redwood pipes project seems to have languished about ten years before it again received noteworthy consideration. Finally, in June, 1864, Donald McKenzie, proprietor of the San Jose Foundry, got the Council's permission to erect two large wooden tanks on the foundry premises for the purpose of supplying abundant water to the fire cisterns.
McKenzie followed up this advantage with another request. On February 17, 1865, he and his assigns obtained the exclusive right to supply the inhabitants of San Jose with "good and pure water."
1991 "125th Anniversary San Jose Water Company's History 1866-1991," Water 32(4):38-43 (Winter 1991)
1991 San Jose Water Company 125th Anniversary: 125 Years of Service to the Community 1866-1991, edited by Sharon Whaley.
1994 "Anthony Chabot :
Oakland's little big man," The
Californians 12(1):26-29, 32-37.
Next the energetic Oakland water king eagerly turned to San Jose's and Vallejo's water troubles. San Jose was being supplied by artesian well water pumped into twin water tanks totaling 100,000 gallons atop a 50-foot-high platform. Iron foundry owner Donald McKenzie first had constructed the tanks for his own use but soon found that he could sell the surplus to his neighbors. Indeed, so brisk did business become that McKenzie needed more capital and expert advice.
and Nature in the American West, by Char Miller | also here
(subscription required) |
Pages 112-134: Private Water: The Curious Case of San Jose's Water Supply, by Martin V. Melosi,
2016 "San Jose Water Company - 150 Years Strong," by Sharon Whaley, Continuity 27(2):16-18 (Summer 2016)
© 2018 Morris A. Pierce