Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Rhode Island Bristol

Bristol, Rhode Island

Bristol was settled by Europeans in 1680.

The first water system was built by Samuel Wardwell sometime before October 1810, when he petitioned the state legislature (of which he was a member) for protection. No other information has been found about this system.  

George H. Norman proposed to build water works for the Town of Bristol in 1882, and he and the town entered into a contract on November 30, 1882.  The contract was subsequently assigned to the Bristol and Warren Water Works, which was incorporated in May 1883 by George H. Norman, William J. Miller, Preston Day, Isaac F. Williams, Sidney Dean and Benjamin M. Bosworth, Jr.

The town of Bristol voted to take over the system in 1895 and prevailed in a subsequent court case, but in 1906 local resident Samuel Pomeroy Colt secured a controlling interest the company and after discussions with the town the company's franchise was extended for 50 years.  Upon his death in 1921 Colt left $100,000 in company stock to the Town of Bristol and $200,000 in stock to other Bristol institutions.

The company acquired additional water properties and in 1934 changed its name to the Bristol County Water Company

The Bristol County Water Authority was formed in 1984 and in 1986 the acquired the Bristol County Water Company.

The water system is currently owned by the Bristol County Water Authority, which has a short history on line.

1810 An act for the protection of the Water-Works in Bristol belonging to Samuel Wardwell, Esq.  May 1810

1883 An act to incorporate the "Bristol and Warren Water-Works," May 31, 1883

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

1890 "Bristol and Warren," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Bristol and Warren," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1897 "Bristol and Warren," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1901 Town of Bristol vs Bristol and Warren Water Works, 23 R.I. 274, July 27, 1901, Supreme Court of Rhode Island. Providence

1907 Municipal Journal & Public Works, 22:546 (May 29, 1907)
Bristol, R. I.—After hearing an explanation of his plans from Col. Samuel P. Colt, owner of the Bristol and Warren Water Company, the taxpayers of Bristol voted to grant a new fifty-year exclusive franchise to supply the town with water. In return for the franchise the company will construct a filter as soon as possible, will increase the pressure head from 125 to 160 feet, hydrant rentals will be reduced from $3,000 to $2,000 a year, water for flushing streets and sewers will be furnished free, the company will assume unpaid obligations incurred by the town for attorney's fees in litigation with the water company. Col. Colt will have to spend $150,000 in addition to the $275,000 paid by him to acquire the stock.

1916 Walsh v Bristol and Warren Water Works Company, Supreme Court of Rhode Island, June 13, 1916

1921 "Colonel Samuel Pomeroy Colt Dies at Bristol, R. I. Home," The Accessory and Garage Journal, 11(3):20-21 (August 1921)

1921 "Colt Left $410,000 in Public Bequests", New York Times, August 19, 1921, Page 13

1958 Bristol County Water Company v. Peter Oliviera et al, 141 A.2d 443, May 16, 1958, Supreme Court of Rhode Island

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce