Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States
Maryland Westminster

Westminster, Maryland

Westminster was founded in 1764.

The Westminster Water Company was incorporated in 1826 with Abraham Wampler, John Fisher, and Jacob Yingling appointed to sell stock in the company, which was formed "for the purpose of introducing a supply of wholesome water into the town of Westminster."  No evidence has been found that this company built a system.

A law passed in 1876 gave the City of Westminster the right to impose a tax on all property that would be paid to a private water company, should one be established. 

The Westminster Water Company was incorporated on May 18, 1883.  This company built s system using water from a spring that was carried by earthenware pipes to a pool holding 500,000 gallons, from which it is pumped into an elevated reservoir.

The Citizens' Water & Power Company of Westminster was incorporated on June 15, 1900 by William B. Thomas, E. O. Grimes, Dr. Charles Billinglen, Hon. Frank. T. Shaw, John H. Cunningham, ex-judge James A. C. Bond, Joseph B. Doyle, John L. Reifsnider, Grove a Shipney, A. C. Strasburger, Prof. William R. McDaniel, Theodore Derr, Denson S. Gehr, Andrew J. Reese Theodore A. Kauffman, Frank C. Sharrer, James E. Smith, Ferdinand D. Schaeffer, John D. Bowers, and ex-Mayor Joseph W. Smith.  "After the Citizensí Company started operations competition between it and the Westminster Water Company became very keen. A reduction in rates made by one company was met by still further reductions by the other company, which system of counter-reductions continued until aggregate reductions in rates amounted to 40 per cent. The Westminster Water Company had entered into a contract with the City of Westminster to supply it with water for fire protection and other municipal purposes and was paid by the municipality from the proceeds of an annual levy of 5 cents on the $100.00 of the taxable property within the corporate limits of Westminster. After the formation of the second water company the Mayor and Common Council of Westminster endeavored to have this contract rescinded and the rights of the municipality to terminate the contract was upheld by the Court of Appeals of Maryland (98 Md. 551). Thereafter the municipality entered into a contract with the Citizensí Company to supply Westminster with water for all municipal purposes, including fire protection, at the rate of $800.00 per annum, which contract started on October 2, 1902, and terminated October 2, 1917. This last contract also stipulated the rates to be charged private consumers by the Citizensí Company during the period of the contract, the rates being fixed as those which were established as a result of the active competition between that company and the Westminster Water Company." (Maryland PSC 1919)

After the competition between the rival water companies had continued for some years their owners determined that the logical solution of the problem lay in a consolidation of the two companies, and it was thought advisable to include also the gas and electric companies in the same combination. To this end The Public Utilities Company of Westminster was incorporated on September 28, 1908, under the general incorporation laws of the State of Maryland, with broad corporate powers. The five corporations were then united into The Consolidated Public Utilities Company of Westminster by agreement of consolidation dated October 1, 1908, with an authorized capital stock of $150,000.00, consisting of 15,000 shares of the par value of $10.00 each.

The Public Utilities Company of Westminster was incorporated on September 28, 1908, and the five utility corporations were united into the Consolidated Public Utilities Company of Westminster on October 1, 1908.

The Maryland Waterworks Company was purchased by the Town of Westminster in August, 1964 for $975,000.

Water is currently provided by the Town of Westminster.

1826 An act to introduce a supply of Water into the Town of Westminster, in Frederick county.  February 24, 1826.

1876 An act to repeal section one hundred and fifteen of chapter three hundred and forty-three of the acts of eighteen hundred and seventy-four, relating to the City of Westminster, in Carroll county, and to re-enact the same with amendments.  March 23, 1876.
115. Sub-section 2. The said Mayor and Common Council may levy annually, as aforesaid, a further tax, not exceeding five cents on every hundred dollars, to be used and applied to the payment of water rents for the use of water for the public uses of said city, that is to say, for use on the public streets of said city and for the suppression of fires, to any incorporated company which may be organized for the introdnction of a supply of water into said city; and the said Mayor and Common Council may contract with any such incorporated, or to be incorporated, company for the introduction of water into said city, to pay such company annually any such sum, not exceeding the proceeds of said levy of five cents, as aforesaid, as the said Mayor and Common Council, may deem proper; provided that no such payment shall be made until water shall have been actually introduced into said city by such company; and provided further, that sa1d levy of five cents, as aforesaid, shall not be made or used and applied for any other purpose whatsoever.

1882 An act to authorize and empower the Mayor and Common Council of Westminster to make a contract with a Joint Stock Water Company formed, or hereafter to be formed, for the Supply of Water to the city of Westminster, and to levy taxes to pay said company according to the terms of said contract.  May 3, 1882.  Sec. 11 of this act set the date for a vote on the water contract on May 1, 1882, but the governor did not sign the bill until May 3.

1882 Baltimore Sun, May 3, 1882, Page 1.
Failure of approval of the Westminster water supply act makes Monday's vote on of the town on that subject null and void.

1883 Baltimore Sun, June 2, 1883, Page 4.
Work on the Westminster water-works will begin next week.  The company have purchased of Wm. Ogg the old Myers mill property about a mile from the city, from which point the water will be obtained.  It is said that 300 hands will be put to work laying pipe, and a water supply will be given a portion of the city by the middle of August.

1883 Baltimore Sun, June 11, 1883, Page 4.
Westminster Water-Works. Enterprise of a Private Company--A Reservoir on Top of a Hill.
Westminster, June 11.--A private company has undertaken to supply the city of Westminster with water.  The corporation had the project in contemplation for a number of years, and at the last session of the Legislature a bill was passed authorizing the question to be submitted to a vote of the people as to whether bonds should be issued to raise the necessary funds.  It happened however, that the bill was not signed by the Governor until a day or two after the day named for holding the election, and, although in point of fact the vote was taken and the proposition carried, the whole scheme was abandoned when this irregularity was discovered. 
The recent disastrous fire again brought the water question to the front, and the result of the agitation was the organization of a private company under the general incorporaiton laws of the State, to do the work in its corporate capacity has not been permitted to do on on account of the failure of the necessary legislation.  Col. Wm. A. McKellip is president of the new company, Mr. A. H. Huber is secretary, and Mr. Wm. H. Thomas treasurer.  The directors are Messrs. A. H. Huber, L. C. Trumbo. F. K. Heer and E. J. Lawyer. An act of the Legislature authorizes an annual levy for water purposes, which on the present basis of assessment will yield about $1,000 per annum.  Some 250 subscribers have already been secured.

1883 Harrisburg Patriot, November 2, 1883, Page 1.
The Westminster Water Works have been completed at a cost of nearly $30,000.

1884 "Westminster," from Engineering News, 11:247 (May 17, 1884)

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

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

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

1895 Baltimore Sun, March 15, 1895, Page 6.
A Well-Equipped Fire Department and Good Water Supply in Westminster.

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

1900 Baltimore Sun, June 6, 1900, Page 8.
Westminster Water. Incorporation of a New Company.

1904 The Westminster Water Co. vs. The Mayor and Common Council of Westminster, 98 Md. 551, January 20, 1904.  Court of Appeals of Maryland.  A municipality has no authority, in the absence of express legislative sanction, to bind itself to levy a certain annnual tax in perpetuity for the use of a Water Company which agrees to supply the city with water.

1919  Mayor and Common Council of Westminster v. Consolidated Public Utilities Company of Westminster, Maryland Public Service Commission.  July 31, 1919.  Includes histories of each of the utility corporations in Westminster.

1964 The Hagerstown Morning Herald, July 30, 1964, Page 13.
Westminster Water System Sale Approved.  Baltimore.  The Public Service Commission approved Wednesday the sale of the water system serving Westminster to the city government.
Maryland Waterworks Co., which also owns the system in Bel Air, had applied to the commission for authority to sell the plant.
The sale, for an estimated $975,000, will become effective next month.
Mayor Joseph Hahn of Westminster testified during the one-hour hearing that he thought the sale would be in the public interest.  He said residents of the town approved of the sale.

1964 The News (Frederick MD), September 17, 1964, page 5.
$1,211,321.46  After 64 years Westminster Purchases Water Company.

© 2016 Morris A. Pierce