Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
South Atlantic States
Georgia Savannah

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah was founded in 1735.

The first proposition came from George M. Towers, who, on February 21, 1822, submitted plans to provide the city with water from the river. It was decided by Council that the rate was too high, but the statement was made that at a less annual cost it might become an object for the City to make arrangements with him.

In February, 1825, a Mr. Campbell proposed to furnish the city with water from the river, and Mayor Daniell was directed to confer with him.

Nothing came of this. On July 13, 1826, Mayor Daniell was directed to advertise for proposals to furnish the city with a constant supply of water for extinguishing fires and other purposes.

On April 12, 1827, a plan was submitted by John Martineau (1793-1838) who had worked on the Erie Canal and later on New York City's Croton Aqueduct.. It provided for a site for steam engine, for building, engine, force pumps, iron discharge pipes and brick reservoir, at a total cost of $20,000, and for three miles of pipe traversing the principal streets at a cost of $30,000, or a total expenditure of $50,000. The reservoir was to be located fifty feet above the bluff. The annual cost to the City at 10 per cent, on the stock to be issued was placed at $5,000 and repairs, etc., $3,000, a total yearly expense of $8,000. The expense was regarded as too great and the project was dropped. 

The Hydraulic Company of the city of Savannah was incorporated in 1850 with a capital stock of $500,000 by Cosmo P. Richardson, Hiram Roberts and Mulford Marsh "for the purpose of supplying the said city with water."

The 1854 water works included a high service tank 20 feet in diameter and 37 feet high, placed on a brick tower 50 feet high.  As first constructed the tank was 25 feet high, as shown below (from 1854 Historical Collections of Georgia):  


The waterworks are currently owned by the City of Savannah.


References
1822 "City Improvement," Georgian (Savannah, Georgia), February 19, 1822, Page 2.
Memorial to the City Council recommending the plant of Mr. George M. Towers, for supplying the city of Savannah at all times with an abundant supply of clear, soft, fresh water, in the same manner as it is furnished to the inhabitants of Philadelphia.

1825 Georgian (Savannah, Georgia), February 4, 1825, Page 2.
On motion of Alderman Cumming, it was resolved that the Mayor confer with Mr. Canfield, who proposes to introduces the water of the river into the city, for public and private use; and that he make a report to this board, as specific terms as Mr. Canfield can now furnish, as a commencement of further measures.

1826 Georgian (Savannah, Georgia), August 22, 1826, Page 3.
Mayor's Office, Savannah, 19th August, 1825.  Proposals will be received in this office, from persons who will contract to furnish this city with a constant supply of water for the purpose of extinguishing fires, and for such other uses as the inhabitants may require.  Wm. C. Daniell, Mayor

1827 "Proposal of John Martineau to Supply Water," Georgian (Savannah, Georgia), April 13, 1827, Page 2.

1827 Georgian (Savannah, Georgia), November 7, 1826, Page 2.
Arrived.  Ship Statira, New York. J. Martineau, civil Engineer.

1850 An act to incorporate the Hydraulic Company of the city of Savannah, and for other purposes therein named.  February 21, 1850.

1851 "Request for Proposals, Savannah Water Works," Savannah Republican, May 1, 1851, Page 3.

1853 Weekly Messenger (Boston, Massachusetts), February 16, 1853, Page 2.
Savannah Water Works.- We learn from the Savannah Republican, that the erection of water works for the supply of that city is progressing rapidly.  There are to be four independent reservoirs each capable of containing a sufficient supply for one day's consumption.  In three of the basins the excavation is nearly completed and ready for the lining of masonry.  The iron pipes have been shipped at Glasgow, and are on their way.

1854 Daily Telegraph (Jersey City, New Jersey), July 1, 1854, Page 2.
Water was introduced, for the first time, into the pipes of the Savannah Water Works, last Friday.

1854 A digest of all the ordinances of the city of Savannah which where of force on the 1st July 1854
Page 465:  Water rates

1854 "Savannah Water Works," from Scientific American, 9(44):346 (July 15, 1854)

1854 "The Savannah Water-Works," by James O. Morse, Esq., Civil and Mechanical Engineer, of New-York, from Historical Collections of Georgia, by the Rev. George White

1855 First Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Savannah Water Works  

1876 The Worthington Steam Pumping Engine: History of Its Invention and Development, by Henry R. Worthington
Pages 8-9:  I come next to a point in my experience of great importance, involving new considerations and justifying much greater cost and complication of engineering than any hitherto called for in my business. I refer to the department of waterworks for cities and towns. My first connection with any important enterprise of this kind was at the city of Savannah, where the second compound condensing engine, under the patent of Worthington and Baker, was erected in the year 1854. There were three in all, arranged to deliver water into a wrought iron tank of 35 feet in diameter, placed upon mason work about 80 feet from the surface of the ground. And let me say that this arrangement seems to be a valuable compromise between the direct pressure system of supply, so-called, and that of a large and costly storage reservoir. The duplication of the pumps gives reasonable warrant for their uninterrupted performance, and the contents of the elevated tank allows the storage of a night's supply, or for a sufficient quantity to be drawn upon, in case of a sudden fire, without calling upon the pumps. I can say that, for all the years ensuing, no complaints from Savannah have reached me, but on the contrary their order for a much larger pump, given two years ago, when they decided to enlarge their supply, was accompanied by a letter of unqualified commendation of what had hitherto been done. The works were erected under the personal supervision and direction of Mr. James O. Morse, C. E., and in accordance with his designs and plans. A very interesting modification of this idea of tank supply is now being carried into effect by J. D. Cook, Esq., C. E., Constructing Engineer of Sandusky Waterworks. He employs a stand-pipe 25 feet in diameter and 200 feet high.
I append a sectional drawing of the engine employed at Savannah.

1881 Savannah, Engineering News, 8:459 (November 12, 1881)

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

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

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

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

1896 "Henry Rossiter Worthington," The National Cyclopedia of American Biography 6:303 (1896)
Page 303:  In 1854, having invented a direct acting compound condensing engine, he set up the first one ever made in Savannah, Ga., and there he also built the first compound engine ever used in water-works.  The Savannah water works were built in 1853-54 by the city, the water being pumped from the Savannah river by means of pumping to settling basins for lower service, and to a tank for high service.  Mr. Worthington put up here a Worthington pump, with a daily capacity of 5,000,000 gallons and was appointed engineer of the works.

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

1900 A History of the City Government of Savannah, Ga., from 1790 to 1901, by Thomas Gamble, Jr. | Also here |
Page 153:  Wells continued the source of supply of water for domestic purposes, as well as for fire protection, until cisterns were built. The city was ambitious to provide waterworks, but the expense deterred it. The first proposition came from George M. Towers, who, on February 21, 1822, submitted plans to provide the city with water from the river. It was decided by Council that the rate was too high, but the statement was made that at a less annual cost it might become an object for the City to make arrangements with him. In February, 1825, a Mr. Campbell proposed to furnish the city with water from the river, and Mayor Daniell was directed to confer with him. Nothing came of this. On July 13, 1826, Mayor Daniell was directed to advertise for proposals to furnish the city with a constant supply of water for extinguishing fires and other purposes. On April 12, 1827, a plan was submitted by John Martineau. It provided for a site for steam engine, for building, engine, force pumps, iron discharge pipes and brick reservoir, at a total cost of $20,000, and for three miles of pipe traversing the principal streets at a cost of $30,000, or a total expenditure of $50,000. The reservoir was to be located fifty feet above the bluff. The annual cost to the City at 10 per cent, on the stock to be issued was placed at $5,000 and repairs, etc., $3,000, a total yearly expense of $8,000. The expense was regarded as too great and the project was dropped.
Page 206:  In January, 1851, Council offered $100 for the best plan for the laying out the new cemetery. J. O. Morse, a Northern engineer then in the city in connection with the movement for waterworks, was the successful contestant, his plans being accepted.
Pages 215-220:  1854 & 1876 Water Works  The 1854 had three 1 MGD Worthington pumping engines, the 1876 plant had a 3 MGD Worthington pumping engine with a 5 MGD Worthington engine added in 1882.  Artesian wells were used starting in the late 1880s.
Pages 372-383: 1892 Water Works The 1892 plant had two 15 MGD Holly Gaskill engines..

1915 Annual Message to the City Council of Savannah  Index to Different Reports on Condition of Water Supply at Savannah, Ga.
Preliminary Report on Savannah Water Supply, by L. W. Stephenson and R. B. Dole
The Water Supply of Savannah, Ga., by R. B. Dole
Report of Hazen, Whipple and Fuller, by Prof. Geo. C. Whipple, upon Condition of Water Supply at Savannah
Supplementary Report of Prof. George C. Whipple, upon Analysis of the Water of Savannah
Final Report by R. B. Dole, on the Chemical Composition of the Water Supply of Savannah
Report of the Power Specialty Company, giving an Analysis of Savannah Artesian Water used for Boiling at Destructor Plant
Report by E. R. Conant upon the Present Water Supply System of the City of Savannah, with Recommendations for its Extension

1918 "History of the Artesian Water Supply at Savannah, Georgia," by E.R. Conant, Journal of the American Water Works Association 5(3):252-262 (September, 1918)

2005 Water Works Pump House, City of Savannah, by Luciana M. Spracher, February 2005

2008 City of Savannah, Georgia Records Water Operations Department



2017 Morris A. Pierce