Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Maine Augusta

Augusta, Maine

Augusta was first settled in 1754.

Mark Nason and others petitioned the Maine legislature in 1830 to incorporate the Augusta Aqueduct Company, but it was not acted upon for reasons unknown.  No further information on this has been found.

The Augusta Water Company was incorporated in 1870 by Adam Lemont, Richard D. Rice, Benjamin H. Cushman, Darius Alden, Warren Johnson, A. B. Farwell and H. S. Osgood "for the purpose of conveying to the city of Augusta a supply of pure water for domestic and municipal purposes."  This company built a system distributing water from springs above the State Capitol through Wyckoff wood pipes that began service in 1873.  This supply was not adequate and the company was sold in 1885 and a new system was built that pumped water from the Kennbec River into a reservoir using water power.  Although the supply was plentiful, the river was polluted by upstream sewage resulting in outbreaks of typhoid, including a severe outbreak in 1903-1904 discussed in the 1907 reference below.

The Devine Water Company was incorporated in 1874 by James Devine, James Devine, junior, George H. Cross, W. H. Dunham and H. R. Swallow "for the purpose of conveying to the city of Augusta a supply of pure water."  This company built a system that served several families for some years, and the company was bought by the Augusta Water Company in 1889.

The Augusta Water District was formed in 1903 and seized the Augusta Water Company by eminent domain for a payment of $427,135.20.  The water district developed a new water supply from Carleton Lake.

Water is provided by the Greater Augusta Utility District, which has a history page.  The system is primarily supplied from groundwater wells.

1830 Mark Nason and others, Report on the petition that they may be incorporated as an Aqueduct Company in Augusta, Maine State Archives, GY 62-26  Link 545672

1870 An act to supply the people of Augusta with pure water.  March 12, 1870.  Chartered the Augusta Water Company.

1870 Portland Daily Press, October 6, 1870, Page 2.
The Augusta Water Company has organized by electing B. H. Cushman President and H. S. Osgood, Secretary.  The object of the company is to supply the city with pure spring water from the hill in the rear of the State House.  The cost of piping, &c, is estimated at $30,000.

1873 Maine Farmer (Augusta, Maine), June 28, 1873, Page 2.
The Augusta Water Company is making good progress in putting down their aqueduct and will soon reach the heart of the city.  The logs used for conducting the water are of Michigan Pine and are manufactured in Elmira, New York.

1873 Portland Daily Press, August 9, 1873, Page 2.
The Augusta Water Company find plenty of takers.

1874 An act to incorporate the Devine Water Company.  February 10, 1874.

1877 An act additional to an act, entitled "an act to supply the people of Augusta with pure water," approved March twelve, eighteen hundred and seventy.  February 2, 1877.

1878 An act to increase the Capital Stock of the Augusta Water Company.  January 29, 1878.

1881 A Gazetteer of the State of Maine, by George Jones Varney
Page 91:  The village of Augusta occupied the successive terraces on each side of the river, so that the business portions are little above the surface of the river, while others seem at an almost mountainous elevation.  The part of the city proper lying on the western bank of the river is supplied with water by two aqueducts,--one of them fed wholly by boiling springs.

1883 Augusta, Engineering News, 10:449 (September 22, 1883)

1885 An act additional to and amendatory to an act entitled "Act act to supply the people of August with pure water."  March 4, 1885.

1886 The Sanitary News 8(117):6 (May 1, 1886)
Augusta, Me. H. M. Heath, counsel for the Augusta Water company, has made a proposition to the city council to establish a new water system, furnishing eighty hydrants to the city for twenty years at an annual rental of $3,000 and $1,500 annually for the next twenty years. Exemption from taxation was not asked for. George P. Wescot of the Portland company, made a statement to the committee. The system proposed is the gravity and Holly systems combined. Water will be pumped at Kennebec dam by powerful pumps, with a capacity of 2,000,000 gallons daily, to a reservoir capable of holding 6,000,000 gallons. The reservoir will be increased to 8,000,000 if the shape of the ground will permit. The entire city will be piped, and the head of water will be 240 feet.

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

1889 "Augusta Water Works," from Leading Business Men of Lewiston, Augusta and Vicinity

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

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

[189?] Cumberland Manufacturing Co. The Warren filter :for the purification of water for water works,  Augusta had one of the earliest models of this filter, which was described in the 1907 reference below as basically just a strainer.

1892 Illustrated History of Kennebec County, Maine; 1625-1799-1892, Part 1, edited by Henry D. Kingsbury and Simeon L. Deyo
Page 447: James Devine was the pioneer in supplying Augusta with pure water. He laid an aqueduct from springs on the hill south of the city, and for some years supplied a few families. He did not have much means, and finally the property fell into other hands. The Augusta Water Company was organized in 1870, the leading spirit in the movement being Warren Johnson. He built a dam below the springs, put down aqueducts, and much increased the supply of water. The directors were: Benjamin H. Cushman, Darius Alden, Adam Lemont, Charles Milliken, Warren Johnson, Henry S. Osgood and Alanson B. Farwell. Mr. Cushman was chosen president, and Mr. Osgood, secretary.
In 1885 the charter was purchased by a new company, whose object was to take a water supply from the river. Joseph R. Bodwell was president of the new company, and Joseph H. Manley, clerk and treasurer. Mr. Bodwell was succeeded by George P. Wescott, of Portland. A large reservoir was built upon the hill west of the city, into which water is pumped from the river above the dam. The company supplies the city, the insane hospital, and the Kennebec Arsenal. In 1889 the company purchased the Devine water works, and continued to supply spring water to the extent of the capacity of the spring.

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

1903 An act to incorporate the Augusta Water District.  March 26, 1903.

1904 Lewiston Saturday Journal, August 6, 1904, Page 3.
Augusta Water Company.  The plant property and franchises of the Augusta Water Company having been seized and taken by the Augusta Water District under the right of eminent domain, both the first and second mortgages on the property have been discharged by order of the Court.
The holders of the bonds of the Augusta Water Company should present their bonds at once to the Portland Trust Company, which will redeem them at par.  Augusta Water Company. By Samuel C. Manley, Treasurer, Augusta, Me. May 26, 1904.

1905 Augusta Water District v. Augusta Water Co., et al., 100 Me. 268, June 19, 1905.  Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

1907 "Quality of Kennebec River Water," by George C. Whipple, from Water Resources of the Kennebec River Basin, Maine by H. K. Barrows.
Page 199-200:  The river water was pumped to a reservoir, but was first passed through an old Warren filter, one of the first of its kind in America.  This was a filter only in name and should have been properly called a strainer.
Page 201:  The Augusta Water Company also controlled and used a spring water supply known as the Devine water. 

1916 "Re Augusta Water District, by complaint of commission on is own motion," U. No. 128. June 13, 1916. State of Maine Public Utilities Commission.  Includes an historical statement of the water system.

2007 An Act To Incorporate the Greater Augusta Utility District.  June 22, 2007.

2016 Morris A. Pierce