Documentary History of American Water-works

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New England States Connecticut New Britain

New Britain, Connecticut

New Britain was settled in 1687, incorporated as a borough in 1850, and as a city in 1871.

The citizens of New Britain petitioned the legislature for authority to construct water works, which was granted in May, 1857.  The act was accepted at a borough meeting held June 4, 1857, by a vote of 324 in favor to 45 against it.  The city engaged engineer McRee Swift to design a gravity system taking water from Shuttle Pond, which was built with cement-lined wrought-iron pipes.  Water service began on October 24, 1857.

Water is provided by the City of New Britain.

1857 An act to supply the Borough of New Britain with water for public and private purposes.  May 1857.

1857 An act in amendment of an act entitled "An act to supply the Borough of New Britain with water for public and private purposes."  May 1857.

1860 Amending an act to supply the Borough of New Britain with water for public and private purposes.  May 30, 1860.

1867 Authorizing the Borough of New Britain to Issue Bonds for Procuring an Additional Supply of Water.  July 11, 1867.

1877 The Charter and Ordinances of the City for New Britain

1882 New Britain, from Engineering News 9:228 (July 8, 1882)

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

1888 "New Britain," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1889 History of New Britain: With Sketches of Farmington and Berlin, Connecticut. 1640-1889, David Nelson Camp
Page 199:  In a few years the necessity of making some provision for a more adequate supply of water became evident, and a charter was obtained in 1857, which empowered the borough to construct suitable water works. A sufficient quantity of land at Shuttle Meadow, located principally in the town of Southington, was purchased, the right of way secured, a dam built, and over five miles of main and distributing pipes laid in time for the water to be brought to the borough in October of the same year. The main reservoir, which covers about two hundred acres, is in the northeast corner of Southington, about two and a quarter miles from the city park at Main Street, and about one hundred and seventy feet above it.'
Pages 201-204:  Water-Works.- The importance of securing an adequate supply of water for New Britain was clearly seen by individuals for some time before any municipal action was taken for that purpose. F. T. Stanley, Esq., and some others devoted much time to the consideration of plans, and Mr. Stanley employed engineers to make surveys and give estimates of cost. As a result of his investigations, he submitted to a special meeting of the citizens of the borough, held at the hall of the Humphrey House, April 11, 1857, a communication, which was ordered to be printed and placed in the hands of the tax-payers, and which probably led to the action taken.
At an adjourned meeting of the borough, held at the same place a week later, a committee, consisting of Lucius Woodruff, Philip Corbin, John Stanley, Wm. B. Smyth, and Marcellus Clark, reported a series of resolutions, which were adopted unanimously, as follows:
"Resolved, As the sentiments of this meeting, that we are in favor of supplying this Borough with water, for the protection of the property of the same from fire, and for other necessary, useful, and ornamental purposes.
Resolved, That in the opinion of your committee from the examinations, surveys, and estimates which have been made, and from information which they have received relating to the supplying of cities and villages with water, they are of the opinion that the supplying of this Borough with water from 'Shuttle Meadow' is practicable and unusually feasible, and can be accomplished by an outlay of means so moderate aud reasonable, as to do no injustice to this community in a financial point of view.
Resolved, That the Warden and Burgesses of this Borough be, and they are hereby, authorized and instructed, at the expense, and in the name and behalf of the Borough, to prepare and present to, and prosecute before the next General Assembly, a petition for grant of power and authority to introduce into and distribute through said Borough, Water from 'Shuttle Meadow,' for public and private purposes, and for such additional power aud privileges as- may be necessary or convenient for carrying the object aforesaid into full effect.
Resolved, That liberty be petitioned for in said grant to issue bonds in the name of the Borough, to pay for the construction of said works."
A petition was prepared, signed, and presented to the General Assembly in aid of the petition of the borough officers. The Assembly granted the power asked for in an act entitled "An act to supply the Borough of New Britain with Water for Public and Private purposes." The act was accepted at a borough meeting held June 4, 1857, by a vote of 324 in favor to 45 against it. The borough officers were authorized to issue bonds to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, and a board of water commissioners, consisting of F. T. Stanley, H. E. Russell, and Geo. M. Landers, was appointed to carry out the provisions of the act. The commissioners proceeded at once with the work, which was promptly executed according to the general plan submitted in the first report, but at a considerable less cost than was first estimated. Ground was first broken July 6, 1857, and on Oct. 6th the work was closed, the men being discharged, except a few engaged in finishing the dam. Over five miles of main and distributing pipe, from 4 to 10 inches in diameter, were laid. The water was first let in the 24th of October, 1857. To meet the expense of construction, bonds known as "water bonds," and bearing seven per cent, interest, were issued to the amount of $50,000.
In 1867 permission was obtained by an amendment to the act to issue another series of bonds to the amount of $75,000,. to provide for an extension of pipes. In 1869 an additional main of twelve inches diameter was laid from the reservoir at Shuttle Meadow to the city, at an expense of about forty thousand dollars.
On the organization of the city, all the powers relating to the water supply which had been exercised by the officers of the borough were vested in the Common Council, and provision was made for the appointment, annually, by the Council, of three water commissioners, to hold office for one year. During the first year of the city administration, 8,600 feet of cast-iron pipe was laid, making at the close of the year, or March 1, 1872, about seventeen miles of main and distributing pipes then laid. In 1873 the legislature authorized the issue of a third series of bonds to the amount of $75,000.
In compliance with orders of the Common Council in 1875-76, fifty-one meters were placed on the connections with factories and other large consumers. In the spring of 1878, a flash board was placed upon the dam at Shuttle Meadow, increasing the capacity of the reservoir ten per cent., or sixty million gallons.
The increase in population and in the business of the city resulted in so great increase in the water used, that in 1882-83 steps were taken to procure an additional supply. For this purpose the Panther Swamp canal and a new gate-house were constructed in 1883-84. Before the construction of this canal the water supply was from Shuttle Meadow Lake, covering about one hundred and sixty-four acres, with an adjoining watershed of six hundred and nineteen acres, or a total of seven hundred and eighty-three acres. The Panther Swamp district added four hundred and forty-six acres. The new gate-house was built at some distance from the dam, and its use has not only afforded a greater supply of water, but also improved the quality. To provide for the expense of these improvements, a fourth series of bonds to the amount of $30,000 was issued. To provide means for future improvement, in 1881 a fifth series of bonds to the amount of $20,000 was issued.
By these various measures and others, introduced as required, the system of water-works has been made more efficient, the quality of the water has been improved, and the supply made adequate for the' needs of the city. Twenty-seven miles of iron pipe and between five and six miles of cement pipe is in use.
The Board of Water Commissioners in 1889 consisted of James W. Ringrose, chairman; John E. Dunlay, and Charles H. Beaton.

1890 "New Britain," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "New Britain," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1897 "New Britain," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

2016 Morris A. Pierce