Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States
Delaware Wilmington

Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington was settled in 1638.  

"In 1800, an attempt was made by the Borough Council, to introduce water and John Way, John Jones and S. Nichols were appointed a committee " to examine into the propriety and expense of bringing water from the spring on the hill in Third Street near Tatnall, and conveying the water from Third down Market Street, to supply the town." This committee estimated the cost for eight hundred and thirty-five feet of pump logs, and for digging and laying them in the ground, and a cistern containing thirty hogsheads, would be 112 9s. and l1d. This effort to supply the town with water was, however, unsuccessful." (1888)

The first waterworks were built by the Wilmington Spring Water Company, which was organized in 1803 by James Lea, William Robison, Peter Bauduy, Thomas Crow, John Sellars, Joseph Bailey, James Brobson, Jacob Alrichs, Samuel Nichols, Eli Mendenhall, Edward Roche and Jeremiah Wollaston.  They were supplying water by September 1803. The company was incorporated on January 23, 1804  and the system was purchased by the Borough Council in 1810 for $10,000.

Iron pipes were installed in 1824 and water service was offered to individual houses.  A water-driven pump and reservoir were built in 1827.

Water is currently supplied by the City of Wilmington.

1804 An act to incorporate the Wilmington Spring Water Company, January 23, 1804.

1810 "An Ordinance to lay and collect a Water Tax within this Borough," June 4, 1810, American Watchman (Wilmington, Delaware), June 30, 1810, Page 1.
All buildings and all families situated and residing within 100 yards of any of the pumps or hydrants, which have been erected by the said Spring Water Company, or which may be erected by the Borough Council, shall be assessed for, and pay a Water Tax, in the matter expressed by this ordinance.
No building will be assessed more than 4 cents, nor less than 2 cents on every hundred dollars of the real value of such building; nor more than 10 dollars, nor less than one dollar for each family per annum, except in cases of extensive manufactories requiring much water, when the matter shall be left open for contract, by motion of either of the parties.

1831 The Northern Traveller, and Northern Tour, by Theodore Dwight
Pages 396-397:  Wilmington, Del. The Water Works are supplied from the Brandywine, by a steam engine and double forcing pump, on the principle of that a Fairmount, Philadelphia.  The water-wheel is an overshot, 14 feet 6 inches in diameter; and the water that turned it is pumped up.  The ascent from the river to the upper basin in 99 feet; and both the basins together, hold a million of gallons.

1862 The Charter and Ordinances of the City of Wilmington, Delaware

1872 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Water Works for 1872, in which is embodied a Condensed History of the Wilmington Water Works from their Origin until the Present Time, by C. H. Gallagher, Chief Engineer.

1881 "Wilmington," from Engineering News, 8:372 (September 17, 1881)

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

1888 "The Wilmington Water Department" from History of Delaware 1609-1888 by J. Thomas Scharf.

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

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

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

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

1906 "Wilmington, Del. Water Supply" by Theodore A. Leisen, Chief Engineer. Board of Water Works.  From Municipal Journal and Engineer, 21:5  (August 1, 1906)

1914 "The Water Supply at Wilmington, Delaware," by Edgar M. Hoopes, Jr. and James M. Caird, Journal of the American Water Works Association 1(1):111-134 (March, 1914) | Also here |

1981 Water and sewage works in Wilmington, Delaware, 1810-1910, by Carol E Hoffecker

2017 Morris A. Pierce