Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States New York Utica

Utica, New York

Utica was established on the site of Old Fort Schuyler, built in 1758.

The Utica Aqueduct Company was organized in 1800 by Samuel Bardwell, Oliver Bull, Col. Benjamin Walker, and Silas Clark.  Water was brought from springs on Asylum Hill and near the Oneida brewery in logs and the company was incorporated in 1802.  The company provided water service until the construction of the Erie Canal through Utica in 1824 severed their water line.

Another company of the same name was incorporated in 1826, but appears to have done nothing.

The Utica Water Works Association was formed on April 3, 1832.  This group installed a 2˝ inch iron pipe to deliver water from Mr. Middleton's lot above Spring street.  This association served very pure water until 1850, when the works were abandoned.

On January 21, 1844, Edward H. Brodhead, a railroad magnate, asked "permission to procure legislation incorporating a water supply company for the city. This was granted and on March 21 a resolution was adopted urging the passage of the water bill."  A charter was granted to "supply the city of Utica with pure and wholesome water" in 1845, but also appears to have done nothing due to lack of local support.  Brodhead later moved to Milwaukee where he built railroads, ran a bank, and was one of the first water commissioners for that city.

A 1959 history suggests that local residents voted down a proposal to built municipal water works in 1847, after which the Utica Water Works Company was incorporated in 1848. The cast iron pipes installed by this company were imported from Scotland.  This company was quite successful and combined with other local water companies to form the Consolidated Water Company of Utica on November 13, 1899.  The City of Utica purchased the company in 1938 for $7.9 million.

Water in the City of Utica is provided by The Mohawk Valley Water Authority, which was created in 1994 as the Upper Mohawk Valley Regional Water Board.  

1802 An ACT for Incorporating the Utica Aqueduct Company, in the County of Oneida, March 16, 1802.

1826 An ACT for Incorporating the Utica Aqueduct Company, in the County of Oneida, April 13, 1826

1845 AN ACT to authorize Edward H. Brodhead to supply the city of Utica with pure and wholesome water., May 10, 1845

1848 AN ACT to incorporate the Utica Water works Company., March 31, 1848

1850 Scientific American 5: 154 (February 2, 1850)
Utica Water Works Utica has just completed her water works, which give them a copious supply of pure Water at the cost of only $75,000.  It has a great head, and the hydrants carry water 30 feet above the spires of their church.  Its benefits in cases of fire will more than pay the whole cost of the works.

1872 Watertown Daily Times, March 1, 1872, Page 3.
Whisky has gone up in price since the water works gave out in Utica and Syracuse.

1878 Utica Water-Works Company from History of Oneida County, New York: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers by [Samuel W. Durant]

1886 The Utica Water Works: A paper read before the Oneida Historical Society, January, 1886, by Thomas Hopper, President, Projector, and builder of the works. | Also here |

1888 The Mercantile and Manufacturing Progress of the City of Utica, N.Y. and Environs. by Merchants' and Manufacturers' Exchange of Utica, N.Y.
Utica Water Works. A subject of the first importance in any city is the character and quality of its public water supply. It not only becomes important in a sanitary point, but .a question largely affecting the cost of manufacture in nearly all lines of production. We deem the subject of so much consequence that we present the following facts concerning the water supply of Utica. The Utica Water Works Company was incorporated March 31, 1848, and its present efficiency is largely due to the efforts of its President, projector and builder, Mr. Thomas Hopper, who for forty years has made it his life-study and life-work. On April 21, 1849, the Company contracted with Mr. Thomas Hopper to construct the works, and on Nov. 8, 1849, the water was let into the mains and the works were virtually completed to the full satisfaction of all parties. Additions have been made both to the storage capacity and to the sources of supply since that date. The Company have now four reservoirs with a storage capacity of 800,000,000 gallons; they are fed by living springs flowing into Starch Factory Creek and Cedar Lake, and there is available from these sources 1,600,000,000 gallons annually, which is equal to thirty-four gallons per capita daily for a population of one hundred thousand, and in addition to these sources they also control a never-varying flow of 500,000 gallons daily at Graefenberg. From this it will be seen that the supply is equal for all possible purposes for many years, and other reservoirs will be made from time to time as may be required. The supply of water to the city is by gravity flow, which is the most economical, reliable and efficient of any system as yet adopted. The reservoirs are so connected with conduits that water may be let on for city supply from either, or all, as occasion may require. The usual direct flow, however, is from the distributing reservoir, the surface of which is two hundred feet elevation above the datum line of the city. This gives a pressure of eighty-seven pounds to a square inch, and a flow from the hydrant at Baggs square of about eighty feet altitude. If in case of a large conflagration a higher flow should be desirable, the gate from the said reservoir would be closed,and the gate to the new reservoir opened, which would give a pressure of one hundred and thirteen pounds to an inch. By closing both these gates and opening the gate at the Starch Factory Creek reservoir the pressure would be raised to one hundred and thirty pounds to a square inch. The fourth reservoir would give a pressure of two hundred and seventy pounds to an inch, which is beyond the strength of any water company's works to hear. The purity of the water is beyond question and the supply ample for a city four times as large as Utica of to-day. There are forty-eight miles of iron mains, and the capital stock of the company is $400,000.

1881 Utica, Engineering News, 8:425 (October 22, 1881)

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

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

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

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

1896 Our County and Its People: A Descriptive Work on Oneida County, New York, by Daniel Elbridge Wager
Page 319: At a special meeting of the council held January 21, 1844, a communication was received from E. H. Broadhead asking permission to procure legislation incorporating a water supply company for the city. This was granted and on March 21 a resolution was adopted urging the passage of the water bill. On March 31, 1848, the Utica Water Works were incorporated, with capital stock of not less than $30,000 nor more than $100,000. James Watson Williams, Nicholas Devereux, Alfred Munson, Andrew S. Pond, Charles A. Mann, Horatio Seymour, Silas D. Childs, Willard Crafts, and Thomas Hopper were the trustees.

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

1899 Report on Utica water works by George W. Rafter, consulting engineer (February 1899)

1919 Poor's Government and Municipal Supplement
Page 441: CONSOLIDATED WATER CO. OF UTICA, N. Y.—Inc. Nov 13, 1899, in N. Y.; consolidation of Utica Water Works Co., New Hartford Water Co., West Canada Water Co. and Whitestown Water Works Co., located in Utica, N. Y., and suburbs. Subsequently leased the Whitesboro Water Works Co. Franchise perpetual. Population served, 110,000. Storage capacity over 2,000,000,000 gallons; distribution capacity 12,000,000 gallons daily. Miles of mains, 205. Meters, 15,700. Controls practically all the available sources of water supply for the city of Utica and adjacent towns. The system is operated by gravity, making it unnecessary to maintain pumping stations.

1909 Risley v. City of Utica, Circuit Court, N.D. New York, April 1, 1909, Court case held that the city could not tax a property owner for water service when, in fact, the property owner did not receive service from the local water company.

1922 "Edward H. Brodhead" National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 2
Page 208: Mr. Brodhead was for many years president of the board of public works, and to him is due a large share of the credit for the successful construction of the Milwaukee water works.

1922 Annual Report of the State Department of Health
Pages 261-263:  Utica

1922 In Memoriam: John Vacher Bacot, 1857-1921  By Consolidated Water Company (Utica, N.Y.). Board of Directors

1928 "History of Utica's Water Supply" by Frederick E. Beck, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 20(6):806-808 (December, 1928)

1938 "Utica Buys Water Plant," The New York Times, October 20, 1938, Page 36.
Payment of $7,910,693 Wwas Financed by RFC.
Utica, N.Y., Oct. 19.- The city of Utica acquired title today to the Consolidated Water Company of Utica, the transfer being made in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York on payment of $7,910,693.  Deeds were filed in Oneida, Herkimer and Medison Counties.
The purchase was financed through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and came after more than a year of negotiations.  The company was formerly a subsidiary of the General Water Works and Electric Corporation, which went into receivership.

1945 "Utica, New York—Survival and Retirement Experience With Water Works Facilities: As of December 31, 1940," Journal of the American Water Works Association 37(9):874-896 (September, 1945)

1949 "Utica, New York, Water System Reaches Its Hundredth Anniversary" from The Mueller Record 36:2-5 (July August, 1949)
Page 2: In the Autumn of 1847, the taxpayers of Utica rejected as a "wild and doubtful project" the proposal that the city build and operate its own public water supply system. Ninety-one years later, in 1938, the city's governing body authorized the purchase of the then existing water works system for $7,900,000.

1977 "Water Works History:  A Comparison of Albany, Utica, Syracuse, and Rochester" by Joseph W. Barnes, Rochester History 39(3):1-24 (July 1977)

1982 The Upper Mohawk Country:  An Illustrated History of Greater Utica, by David Maldwyn Ellis
Page 213:  1937 - Utica acquired property of Consolidated Water Company.

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce