Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
South Central States
Kentucky Covington

Covington, Kentucky

Covington was incorporated as a city in 1854.

The city of Covington advertised in April, 1860 for firms to establish and operate water works with an exclusive right for 25 years.  It is not known if any proposals were received. 

The Newport and Covington Water-works Company was incorporated in 1865 by John P. Jackson, John A. Williamson, William H. Lape, Jacob Hawthorne, Amos Shinkle, Jesse Wilcox, and William Ernst, for the purpose of "furnishing and selling to the corporate authorities and citizens, of either or both the cities of Newport and Covington, water for municipal, domestic, or manufacturing and other purposes.  This company did not build anything.

Another Newport and Covington Water-works Company was incorporated in 1868 by M. J. King, P. Walsh, John P. Jackson, William H. Lape, George R. Fearons, H. D. Helin, Daniel Wolf, Amos Shinkle, William Ernst, and Jesse Wilox with the same purpose as the 1865 company.  This company decided that the new Holly direct pressure water system was the right solution, and proposed that to the Covington city council with the request that the city buy $100,000 of the company's stock.  After local discussion, residents voted in favor of the Holly system, but the city would own it.  

The city contracted with the Holly Manufacturing Company for the pumping apparatus, and with other firms for pipes, etc.  Plans were prepared by Birdsill Holly and the construction was overseen by William C. Weir. The system began service on March 15, 1871.  The system was rebuilt in 1889.

The city sold the water system to the Kenton Water District No. 1 in July 1977.

The Northern Kentucky Water District was formed in 1996 when the Campbell County Kentucky Water District and the Kenton County Water District No. 1 merged.

Water is provided the Northern Kentucky Water District.

1860 An act to incorporate the Newport and Covington Water-works Company.  March 1, 1860.

1860 "Water-works, Covington, Ky.," The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 19, 1860, Page 4.
Proposals will be received for a grant of the exclusive right to establish and operate Water-works for a term of twenty-five years.

1860 "Water Works, Covington, Kentucky," The American Gas-Light Journal 1(11):240 (May 1, 1860)
Sealed proposals will be received by the Clerk Clerk of Covington, Ky., until the 10th day of July, 1860, for a grant of an exclusive right to establish and operate Water Works in the City, for the term of twenty-five years.

1865 An act to incorporate the Newport and Covington Water-works Company.  January 18, 1865.

1865 An act to amend an act, entitled “An act to incorporate the Newport and Covington Water-works Company.”  February 25, 1865.

1869 An act to amend the Charter of the City of Covington.  March 6, 1869.

1868 An act to incorporate the Newport and Covington Water-works Company.  March 9, 1868.

1869 "Covington.  The Holly System of Water Supply," The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 21, 1869, Page 7.

1869 "The Holly Water Works," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio) August 25, 1869, Page 3.
Report of the Covington, Ky., Committee

1869 "Water-Works! Special Election Notice," The Cincinnati Enquirer, September 18, 1869, Page 7.

1869 "Vote on the Water-works Question," The Cincinnati Enquirer, September 21, 1869, Page 7.
For:  1,525; Against: 161; Majority for Water-works, 1,364.

1870 An act to amend the Charter of the City of Covington.  March 18, 1870.

1870 "The Water-Works - Contract for Pipe Awarded," The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 12, 1870, Page 7.
Contract awarded to Thomas G. Gaylord & Co., of Newport, Kentucky.

1871 "Trial of the Water-works To-Day," The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 15, 1871, Page 7.

1871 Report of the Committee on Construction of the Holly Water Works in the City of Covington, Ky. together with the reports of the Engineer and Superintendent, and Secretary with Bylaws, ordinances, etc., for the government of the works  April 5, 1871.

1871 "Cost of The Water-Works," The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 21, 1870, Page 7.

1882 Covington from Engineering News 9:107 (April 1, 1882)

1882 Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Volume 2, by Lewis Collins
Page 431:  The Holly Water Works system was introduced into Covington, 1870-71, and proves the most efficient fire-engine system yet discovered.  When the tunnel under the Ohio river for supplying soft water shall be completed, the only serious objection (March, 1873,) to the system will be removed — the water hitherto being hard, and on that account less adapted to some of the ordinary purposes of a water supply. By sinking a well, 18 feet in diameter and 71 feet deep, upon the bank of the Ohio river a permanent supply of Water, filtered through the substratum of gravel underlying the river, was expected to be obtained, as in other cities; but the result was not favorable — the water proving hard, and evidently drawn from the springs of this limestone region. After two years constant use the supply began seriously to fail, necessitating a direct resort to the Ohio river. Over 16 miles of iron pipe were laid in the streets, of which one-fifth of a mile of 20-inch main, half a mile of 16-inch main, 1Ό miles of 10 and 12-inch main, 5 miles of 8-inch, 2 of 6-inch, and nearly 8 miles of 4-inch pipe. The total cost of the works, as per report on April 5, 1871, was $366,072, but somewhat increased afterwards — of which for the Holly pumping machinery $68,540, pumping-well $32,210, water works building on level ground $10,250, and foundation on the river bank $68,350, besides $9,000 for the lot, and for the reservoir for extra supply of water in case of too rapid exhaustion by fire $6,900. The funds were realized from the sale of $400,000 of 20-year city bonds, bearing interest at seven and three-tenths per cent., payable semi-annually; to pay which a special tax of 30 cents upon the $100 was authorized, which yielded $29,823 in 1871, and $28,417 in 1872. The river tunnel and connections are not yet completed; the cost is to be added to the above.

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

1890 "New Water Supply for Covington, Ky.," from Engineering Record 21:151-152 (February 8, 1890)

1890 "The New Water Supply for Covington, Ky.," from Engineering News 23:458-459 (May 17, 1890)

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

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

1897 "Covington," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4

1899 Covington v. Kentucky, 173 U.S. 231, February 20, 1899, February 20, 1899, Supreme Court of the United States.

1980 Development and application of a water supply cost analysis system, Volume 1, July, 1980.
Page 8.  The Kenton County Water District No.1, the first water district established in the State of Kentucky, developed its original water supply system by purchasing the Dixie Highway Water Company system in 1926. During this period of time, treated water was being purchased from the City of Covington, Kentucky and delivered by the District to its customers.
In July 1977, the Kenton Water District acquired the operating control of the City of Covington, Kentucky, Water Utility. A separate cost analysis system was implemented for Covington, since bonding restrictions required that the Covington accounting be separate from that of the Kenton Water District. Therefore, reports, similar to those of the Kenton Water District, are prepared for the Covington system.

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce