Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Southwestern States
Texas San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas

The first European settlers in San Antonio was first settled by Franciscans in the early 18th Century and became the largest Spanish settlement in Texas. 

The Franciscans built a canal, Pajalache or Concepcíon, to bring water to the mission, which became operational about 1720. The Espada Acequia (Espada Aqueduct) was completed 1731 to supply additional water for domestic and irrigation use.  The system is registered with the Historic American Buildings Survey are still conveys water in the local area.

The San Antonio Water Company was incorporated in 1858 by Samuel S. Smith, John James, Samuel A. Maverick, Francis P. Giraud, and Gustavus Schleicher "to make and build one or more reservoirs for the reception and holding of water within the limits of the city of San Antonio, or between the limits of said city and San Pedro Spring and the head of the San Antonio river, to erect the necessary machinery to force the water from said San Pedro Creek and San Antonio river, into the said reservoir or reservoirs, to lay and construct all necessary conduits and pipes, of iron, clay, lead, gutta percha, stone, wood, or any other material, to conduct the water from said reservoir or reservoirs to any part of the ancient limits of said city."

The Hydraulic Company of San Antonio was incorporated in 1860 by Francis P. Giraud, Joseph Ulrich, Warwick Tunstall, John C. French and Franklin.Lafayette Paschal "to establish water works in the city of San Antonio, or in its immediate vicinity, for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of said city and surrounding neighborhood with water."  Neither of these companies built anything.

George M. Madison, son of former mayor Samuel Maverick, proposed a water system in May, 1873, but nothing else has been found about it.  (1890:54)

City councilman James B. Sweeney proposed on August 5, 1873 that a vote be held to authorize $200,000 of bonds to build water works for the city.

The city became interested in building water works in 1875 and invited the National Water Works Company of New York to submit a proposal.  This company had recently completed the water works system in Kansas City and unsuccessfully tried to build or buy water systems in several other cities.  The company turned down the terms offered by the city.

The San Antonio Water Works Company was incorporated in 1875 by Francis P. Giraud, Hardin B. Adams, Thomas Jefferson Devine, Joseph Seaman Lockwood, Jacob Waelder, Edwin D.Lacey Wickes, John Herman Kampmann.   Adams was chosen President and Girard Secretary, pro tem.

William R. Freeman proposed a system of water works in 1877, and enlisted J. R. Lacoste to take charge of the effort.  The City of San Antonio contracted with Lacoste and associates to build water works, which began service on July 3, 1878.  Lacoste apparently secured control of the San Antonio Water Works Company at some point.  Freeman later designed water works in Austin and Waco.

George W. Brackenridge bought a controlling share in the water works company in 1881, and in 1883 he incorporated The Water Works Company, which according to a 1895 court was was "operating the works and carrying on the corporate business" of the San Antonio Water Works Company..

The San Antonio Water Supply Company came into being in 1905 when George Kobusch of St. Louis bought the San Antonio Water Works company from George Brackenridge. Kobusch later sold the business to a Belgian syndicate, when it was known as "Compagnie des Eaux de San Antonio" and was managed by the Mississippi Valley Trust Company of St. Louis, Missouri. In 1920, the Belgian syndicate sold the company to local investors. In 1924, the City purchased the system with seven million dollars in revenue bonds. On June 1, 1925, the utility became known as the City Water Board (CWB) and its management was placed under a Board of Trustees appointed by the City Council. The same year that the City Water Board was established, the City of San Antonio began preparations for the construction of a sewage treatment plant and modernization of the water utility.

The City of San Antonio purchased the water system in 1925 for $6,500,000 and it was recently merged with the Bexar Metropolitan Water District.

The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) was created on May 19, 1992, and currently supplies water to the city of San Antonio.

1858 An act to incorporate the San Antonio Water Company.  February 16, 1858.

1860 An act to incorporate the Hydraulic Company of San Antonio.  February 14, 1860.

1871 The Austin Weekly Statesman, October 5, 1871, Page 3.
House, Austin, October 3, 1871.  Bills passed - to incorporate the San Antonio Water Company.

1873 "Proceedings of the City Council," San Antonio Express, August 7, 1873, Page 3.
Aug. 5th, 1873.  The following resolution by alderman Sweeney was read and laid over for future action:
"Resolved, That a special election of the duty qualified electors of the City of San Antonio be ordered to vote on the proposition to issue $200,000 worth of City Bonds for the purpose of constructing water works for the city."

1873 "Water Works," San Antonio Express, August 9, 1873, Page 3.
Our Democratic Legislature instigated by our representatives have increased taxation and at the same time crippled our resources.  Our City Council follow in their footsteps until the head of the tax payers become as it were a fountain of tears.  As if he take the Herald and goes off somewhere to have a quite cry the first thing that meets his eye is the resolution of Sweeney to tax the citizens $200,000 more for water works.  As Sam Weller said to Job Trotter, "Vats the matter with yer water works, now, Old Covery."
It would be better to build a few bridges over what water we have got on hand, than to go to contracting for more than we know what to do with.

1875 San Antonio Daily Express, April 26, 1875, Page 3.
Water.- A couple of gentlemen are in our city to see about erecting water-works.  They have come to the right place.

1875 "The Water Question," San Antonio Daily Express, May 1, 1875, Page 2.
We have promised to discuss the water question fairly, and if possible put it in such as light that all our citizens can understand it.
In the first place the gentlemen who have offered us a proposal represent the most active company in the United States.  They are now operating in several Western and Eastern cities where they have constructed upon terms similar to those proposed to San Antonio.  They are not adventurers who have come among us for the purpose of defrauding us.  They are willing to give our citizens a fair return for their investment.  We have examined the terms upon which the National Water Works Co. have erected water works in other cities and can assure our readers that their proposals, with a few modifications is much same as they have made in other places.
It is said by some, we ought to keep such an enterprise among our citizens, in answer to this, these gentlemen will open their stock books to such as desire stock, and we will add, how many of our monied men are there who will club together and subscribe one hundred thousand or two hundred thousand dollars to erect a water works in this city. 
Others suggest that the city build the works, this is a good idea, but has its drawbacks.  No doubt these gentlemen or perhaps other water works builders would build us water-works and take our city bonds at par; but can the city just now or will it be able within the next few years, to pay out a quarter of a million of dollars for water works; the interest on the bonds would exceed the amount it will cost even under the present propositions for fire hydrants and deficiency guarantees.

1875 "Water Works vs. Ditches," San Antonio Daily Express, May 4, 1875, Page 2.
The proposition to build water works for our city made by the New York National Water Works Company suggests an inquiry into tho cost of our ditches, and the tax upon our community.  Besides the salary of Ditch Commissioners, the cost of cleaning and repairing, there is the tax for water, amounting to several thousand dollars.
The cost of the two new ditches will be over $40,000 before they are ready for use, and their use, even if completely successful, will be confined to a comparatively small area of the city tract. For less money than these ditches cost ten
miles of pipe can be laid, and water taken to tho tops of our hills, and through every street and into every house and capable of being used for extinguishing fires, irrigation and every use of the household. And there will be no unsightly excavations, no pitfalls, no damage to property, no miasmatic breeding cesspools.
Let us take the lesson the two new ditches have taught us and profit by them, fill them up smooth off the defaced landscape, balance the account and put down the Water Works. It will pay.

1875 San Antonio Daily Express, May 6, 1875, Page 2.
F.M. Mahan, President of the National Water Works Company of New York, is in our city looking at our water sources, with a view of building works in our city.  We understand that President Mahan will lay a proposition before our City Council this evening.  Mr. Mahan is the builder of the water works of Kansas City, Mo., which have been recently completed.  If there is anything that we do what any more than an other in Houston, as far as health and public convenience go, it is a good system of water works that will afford a constant and sufficient supply.  The subject has long been discussed, and we may not have an opportunity to avail ourselves of a good opportunity to have water works erected.- Houston Telegraph.

1875 "Proceedings of the City Council," San Antonio Daily Express, May 6, 1875, Page 3.
Tuesday, May 4th, 1875.  Motion of Alderman Muench that a committee be appointed to consider proposition of New York National Water Works. Carried.

1875 "The Water Business," San Antonio Daily Express, May 8, 1875, Page 2.
The committee, appointed to consider the water works proposition have devoted close attention to every point and suggestion. The ordinance published has been gone over item by item, and every precaution taken to secure the city and at the same time promote the enterprise. The subscription to the stock, and the guarantee of net profits have been eliminated and little else remains but the bare franchise.
It is understood that the amended proposition will be taken into consideration by the N. Y. National Water Works Co., and the city Council before the final ratification.
The general flavor in which this enterprise is regarded by our citizens is very encouraging to its success.

1875 San Antonio Daily Express, May 8, 1875, Page 3.
Summary of meeting at Menger Hotel between members of the Council and prominent citizens to confer with Mr. Lockwood upon the Water Work's proposition made by the New York National Water Works Co.
A very comprehensive discussion was indulged in by several of the of the gentlemen, all favoring the construction of water works, if they could be constructed within the means of the city. Mr. Lockwood modified the original proposition, eliminating the guarantee on the part of the city of any nett profits to the company and reducing the subscription to $25,000 in city bonds.

1875 San Antonio Daily Express, May 10, 1875, Page 3.
The Water Works proposition has been reported back from the joint committee to the city council for their final action.  The committee did not come to a complete understanding with the representatives of the New York National Water Works Company, and it remains for the city to consummate the matter.

1875 "The Water Works Proposition," San Antonio Daily Express, May 13, 1875, Page 2.  Includes proposed terms and water rates.

1875 "Water Works," San Antonio Daily Express, May 19, 1875, Page 2.
The City Council passed the proposition for water works as modified by the committee, and we regard it as a most excellent bargain.  It now remains for the company to accept, which it is doubtful they will do.  It would have been the meerest child's display for the city to have acted otherwise than it has in this matter.

1875 An Ordinance authorizing the National Water Works Company of New York to construct, operate, and maintain Water Works in the City of San Antonio Texas, May 18, 1875.  From the Jean Baptiste LaCoste Papers, Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

1875 "Protest of Alderman Degener to Water Works Proposition," San Antonio Daily Express, May 19, 1875, Page 2.

1875 "Water Works," San Antonio Daily Express, May 25, 1875, Page 2.
A recent St. Louis Republican special from New Orleans says:
"F.M. Mahan, President of the National Water Works Company, now at Kansas City, writes Mayor Leeds that his company will lease the water works of this city for fifty years and improve them.  The matter came up to day in the Council.  Mahan will probably be invited here to examine the works. The Council also adopted a resolution to lease the wharves and levees, lessees to pay accrued indebtedness on same, amounting to over $700,000."
In addition to the improvement at New Orleans, the National Waterworks Company will probably build works at San Antonio, Dallas and Denison, Texas, Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas, and St. Joe, Missouri.  The excellent construction of the works in this city will recommend the National Waterworks Company everywhere, as they have no superiors any where.— Kansas City Paper.

1875 San Antonio Express, July 9, 1875, Page 3.
The National Water Works Company of New York has refused to accept the ordinance of the city council of San Antonio for the erection of water works.  This was to be expected.  It now proposes to accept the original one proposed to the board or will take hold to build to work for the city of the capacity named in the ordinance, laying down eight miles of pipe with fifty fire hydrants for the sum of $250,000, payable in city bonds, running twenty years, drawing ten percent currency, and payable semi-annually in the city of New York, secured by a lien upon the works.  We advise the board to let the matter rest for a while until our finances permit us to reconsider it.

1875 Incorporation of San Antonio Water Works Company, September 1, 1875, Capital stock $300.000,  No. of Shares: 12.000, Term of Existence: 20 years.  (Information from Texas State Archives, March 6, 2018.)

1875 "Water Works Co.," San Antonio Express, September 6, 1875, Page 3.
Sometime since the anticipations of our citizens were raised in regards to the erection of water works in this city by a New York Company.  The proposition of the company was so curtailed by the City Council that they refused to accept the terms.  Several of our prominent citizens concluded to organize a local company, and on Friday last the organization was effected by the election of the following Directors:  F. Giraud, H.B. Adams, T.J. Devine, J.S. Lockwood, Jacob Waelder, E.D.L. Wicks, J.H. Kampmann.  H.B. Adams was chosen President, and F. Girard Secretary, pro tem.  The company, we learn, will push forward this great enterprise with vigor.

1877 Water Works Ordinance, April 3, 1877.  Twenty-five years, water to be sold at rate not to exceed five cents per hundred gallons used, Annual rent $100/hydrant for first 100, then $60/hydrant for next 100, then $50 for next 100, charges for more than 300 hydrants to be negotiated.

1877 "Water Works Contract," San Antonio Daily Express, June 21, 1877, Page 4.

1877 San Antonio Daily Express, December 1, 1877, Page 4.
The Waterworks Company are arranging to purchase four telephones to connect intercourse between the pump-house at the
head of the river and the office in this city; also a fire alarm telegraph, to connect with the City hall, each engine house and the police.  These will be put up immediately, as the telephones will be needed to communicate in constructing the works.
The office of tho company will be temporarily located in tho rear of Rische's cigar store.  By survey yesterday, it was discovered that the fall from the height of the reservoir near the head of the river to the city was about 150 feet.  That is, taking Main plaza, the centre of the city, as the level.  This height will enable a jet of water to be thrown over one hundred feet high, or about twice tho height of any building in the city,

1878 The Austin Weekly Statesman, July 16, 1878, Page 3.
The Express is printed by water power supplied by the San Antonio water works.  The machine used is the Bachus water motor, which occupies no more space than a sewing machine, and the expense is very light.

1878 "The Waterworks Company," San Antonio Daily Express, August 6, 1878, Page 1.
Is now ready to receive and fill all orders for water and fixtures.  Table of Water Rates.

1878 Southern and Western Texas Guide for 1878, by James L. Rock and W.I. Smith
Page 166:  San Antonio. Water Supply.  From the earliest settlement of San Antonio to the present time, the San Antonio and San Pedro springs and rivers, with a system of irrigating ditches, have been the only sources of a water supply for household and gardening purposes.  Recognizing the inadequacy of this crude system, and comprehending the future rapid growth of the city, it was determined to erect a system of water-works, "in order to supply the city with an abundance of pure water, for fire protection, sanitary, public and domestic purposes, using the head of the San Antonio river as a source of supply."
These works are now completed and furnish the city with an abundance of the purest water to be found in any State. The head force raises the water to a height of 24 feet at the point from whence it is forced by suitable machinery to an additional height of 85 feet into the receiving reservoir, which is erected upon a space of six acres known as the city rock quarries, having a capacity of five millions of gallons. From this capacious reservoir the water is distributed throughout the city. The cost of these works amounted to about one hundred thousand dollars.

1879 San Antonio Water Works Company charter amendment raising the capital stock to $150,000.

1881 "Waterworks Contract," San Antonio Daily Express, February 2, 1881, Page 2.  Note this was revised on February 15th, see next article.

1881 "Waterworks Contract Amended," San Antonio Daily Express, February 16, 1881, Page 4.

1882 San Antonio Water Works Company charter amendment, December 29, 1882.  Capital stock increased to $180,000.

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

1883 San Antonio Water Works Company incorporated, January 20, 1883, with a capital stock of $180,000

1883 San Antonio, Engineering News, 10:121 (March 17, 1883)

1883 The Water Works Company incorporated, October 9, 1883, capital stock $500,000, place of business San Antonio.

1883 The Austin Weekly Statesman, October 18, 1883, Page 4.
The charter of the San Antonio Water company, capital stock $500,000 was filed yesterday.  The incorporators are N.B. Sweetzer, Geo. W. Brackenridge, Jno. J. Stevens, Geo. B. Russell, J.H.Kampman, Jno. A. Frazier, Dr. Huff, Fred. Huff, and L.E. Campbell. 

1885 "Water Works Monopoly," The San Antonio Light, November 28, 1885, Page 1.
What the people pay the Brackenridge Monopoly, and What the City could furnish water for.

1886 The Water Works Contract, Opinion of City Attorney S.G. Newton, delivered to the Mayor and Council of the City of San Antonio on January 4, 1886.

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

1890 Altgelt v. City of San Antonio et al., June 24, 1890, Supreme Court of Texas

1890 "San Antonio Water," The Galveston Daily News, August 22, 1890, Page 10.
Makes Good Beer and It is Held in High Esteem - The Price.
The committee appointed from the city council to confer with Colonel Brackenridge looking at the purpose of the water-works received his proposition yesterday, fixing the price, payable in city bonds, at $3,000,000.  The plant includes 500 acres at the head of the river and the waterworks office property in this city.  The price is regarded by the committee was exhorbitant and they will so report to the council.

1890 "Something about the source of San Antonio's Water Supply," The Galveston Daily News, August 24, 1890, Page 8.

1890 "Would Not Buy Water-Works," The Progressive Age (Scottsboro, Alabama), October 16, 1890, Page 1.
Tax-payers of San Antonio, Tex., the other day voted upon the proposition to buy the water-works now owned by private parties and pay therefore $2,000,000 in 20-50 bonds bearing five per cent interest.  The proposition was beaten two to one.

1890 "Dead and Buried," San Antonio Light, October 22, 1890, Page 4.
W. R. Freeman, architect and civil engineer, of this city died yesterday at this residence, corner Maverick and Cypress streets and was buried today.  Deceased was well known as a civil engineer, and it was under his direction that the first work was done in the waterworks constructions of this city.  He was appointed superintending architect of the federal building of this city when the republican party came to power, and was otherwise well and favorably known in his profession.  He died of dropsy in his 45th year, leaving a wife and two children.

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

1890 "Water Works," from San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History, by William Corner

1891 George C. Altgelt v. City of San Antonio and Waterworks Company, 81 Tex. 436, June 19, 1891, Supreme Court of Texas

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

1892 "Major E.D.L. Wickes," The Galveston Daily News, June 19, 1892, Page 13.
San Antonio, June 18.- News was received here today of the death of Major E.D.L. Wickes at the Metropole hotel in Chicago. 
Major Wickes had been a resident of San Antonio since 1895, and was worth $1,500,000, mostly in local real estate.  He was 65 years old and originally came from New York.

1892 "Saratoga Springs Awakening," Chicago Tribune, June 26, 1892, Page 13.
Major E.D.L. Wickes of San Antonio, Tex., who recently died suddenly at Chicago, was one of the oldest habitues of this summer report.  Last autumn while seated on the Grand Union Hotel piazza he remarked:  "I am 62 years old and have been a regular visitor to Saratoga for sixty-one years and have always stopped at this hotel, which was formerly known as Union Hall.  I first came here with my parents when I was but a year old and I don't believe I've missed a season."

1893 "Chicago Bankers Invest in San Antonio Water Works Securities," Chicago Tribune, January 8, 1893, Page 14.

1893 "What the People are Saying," San Antonio Light, November 29, 1893, Page 6.
W. R. Freeman was the original promoter of the water works, but J. B. Lacoste, an old and influential citiens, was enlisted to head the enterprise.  The original contract was between the city and J.B. Lacoste and associates and dated Oct 3d, 1877, - to run for 25 years from the date of completion of the works, April 3rd, 1879.  The workers were completed and the city received them under the contract.

1894 Contract November 20, 1894

1895 Thomas B. White v. San Antonio Waterworks Company, et al.,  9 Tex. Civ. App. 456, January 16, 1895, Court of Appeals of Texas.

1895"Electric Power Pumps for Water-Works," by John M. Goodell, from Engineering News 34:198-199  (September 26, 1895)

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

1902 Contract June 2, 1902.

1902 Report upon a valuation of the Plant of the Water Works Company of San Antonio, Texas with Form of Contract Suggested to the City and the Water Works Company and a Plan for Re-adjusting Rates for Water Service, with form of contract suggested to the City and the Water Works Co (Adopted by the City Council, June 12th, 1902) and a plan for re-adjusting rates for water service., June, 1902, by Chester B. Davis.

1905 Test of a Vertical Triple Expansion High Duty Pumping Engine in Operation at the Water Works, San Antonio, Texas, by Arthur Curtis Scott, Bulletin of the University of Texas, No. 5, June 30, 1905.

1906 "Water Plant Sold," The Houston Post, March 2, 1906, Page 8.

1906 "Large Capitalization," The Eagle (Bryan, Texas), December 21, 1906, Page 3.
Austin, Dec. 19.- Charter of San Antonio Water Supply company, capital stock $2,500,000, has been filed.

1909 "Problems in Municipal Economics," by William S. Jenson, The National Magazine 31(1):103-116 (October, 1909)
Pages 105-106:  San Antonio Water Supply Company

1910 The Belgian firm Compagnie des Eaux de San Antonio was formed in February, 1910 and bought control of the San Antonio Water Supply company in April.  | Stock Certificate | And another stock certificate |

1910 "Kobush in a Big Deal," The St. Louis Star and Times, April 27, 1910, Page 2.
Sells Control of San Antonio Water Supply Co. for $2,057,000 to Belgian Syndicate.

1910 "A Big Deal was Made," The Houston Post, April 28, 1910, Page 7.
Belgian Capital Invested in San Antonio Water.

1910 "Tests of Two Pumping Engines for the San Antonio Water Supply Co.," by William H. Getz, Industrial Progress 2(5):1045-1048 (May, 1910)

1910 "San Antonio's Water Supply," San Antonio Express, September 1, 1910, Page 22.
It is in the hands of liberal and progressive men, and the service is the best.

1911 "San Antonio Water Supply Company," The New York Sun, May 22, 1911, Page 11.
$1,000,000 First & Refunding Mortgage 5% Sinking Fund Gold Bonds.

1914 "Former Carlisler Dead at 95," The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pennsylvania), June 2, 1914, Page 8.
Joseph Ulrich Passes Away in San Antonio, Texas.  Retired secretary of the San Antonio water works company.  U.S. Consul to Monterey, Mexico from 1861 to 1870.  Became a printer for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune because he could read Greeley's handwriting.

1919 "Water Service," San Antonio Evening News, August 25, 1919, Page 5.
Advertisement for San Antonio Water Supply Company.

1920 "Water Supply to be Improved," San Antonio Evening News, January 9, 1920, Page 3.
Extensive Plans Considered Following Purchase of Company.

1926 "J.S. Lockwood Dead," The Austin American (Austin, Texas), July 20, 1926, Page 1.
Widely known San Antonio Banker passes away.  John S. Lockwood died as his summer home at Torresdale, Pa.  Mr. Lockwood came to San Antonio with Col. George W. Brackenridge at the origin of the San Antonio National Bank.

1927 The romance of San Antonio's water supply and distribution, by Bert J. McLean, December, 1927

1928 "The Community Acequia, Its Origin and Development," by Wells A. Hutchins, The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 21(3):261-284 (January, 1928)

1931 Samuel Galitzin Newton, 1856-1931

1931 Report of Water Works Board of Trustees of San Antonio, Texas : covering period from June 1st, 1925 to June 1st, 1930.  Includes comparison of water rates charged by various cities as of May 31, 1930.

1936 A Century of Medicine in San Antonio: The Story of Medicine in Bexar County, Texas, by Pat Ireland Nixon, M.D.
Pages 134-135:  1866 Recommendations of the Board of Health.  In a word, favor the maintenance of health by the comforts within you reach, by regular habits, sufficient and wholesome diets and good water, filtered if possible, and you will have employed all the preventive means recognized as useful.

1937 With the makers of San Antonio: genealogies of the early Latin, Anglo-American, and German families with occasional biographies, by Frederick Charles Chabot
Page 320:  Major Hardin B. Adams, of the Confederate army, first commander of the "Alamo Rifles" (formed in 1857), after the Civil War who in the late 60's, with E.D.L. Wickes, under the firm name of Adams and Wickes, carried on an important business in wagons and trains. In May, 1871, they received a government contract for transportation of all government merchandise; and again in 1876, for route No. 2. Major Adams was one of San Antonio's most public spirited and progressive citizens. He promoted a Water Works as early as 1875. The earliest agitation for a water works began about May, 1870.  George M. Maverick made the first really definite proposition for a water works. May, 1878. A meeting was held at the Menger Hotel, 1875, in the interest of the installation of a water works, Mr. Nathan, president of the N. Y. Water Works Co., present. The company offered to lay a system of water pipes and 80 fire hydrants, the expense of which was to be brought before the City Council at the next meeting. At subsequent meetings it was decided to reduce the guaranty demanded by the company from the city to $25,000. The president selected a committee, Messrs. Dashiell, Hahn, Muench, Cupples, Adams, Kampmann, and Graves, to confer with S.J. Lockwood to alter proposals for the installation of a water works system, that might be acceptable to all. On September 7, 1875, the press announced that a Water Works Co., had been organized in San Antonio by F. Giraud, H. B. Adams, T. J. Devine, J. S. Lockwood, Jacob Waelder, E. D. L. Wickes, and H. Hampmann, elected temporary president, with Mr. Giraud as temporary secretary. However, late in 1876, nothing definite had been accomplished. Mr. La Coste then made the city a proposition to cover a 9 mi. area, each party to have the use of 75 gal. daily, the cost of 10 gal. not to exceed 6c. He then set forth a contract in which he had 15 months from April 3, 1877, to complete the water mains. The full proposition was placed before the City Council, April 5, 1877. With a few changes and alterations, a committee finally recommended the acceptance of the La Coste plan in preference to three others submitted. La Coste, after Foutrel, was one of the first manufacturers of ice on a large scale in San Antonio. The water works contract was ratified by the City Council, June 21 1877. An office was opened in Ed. Rische's Cigar Store, December 1, 1877. The original investment was said to be $100,000. The foundation of the pump house was laid January 28, 1878. The first mains were laid on Avenue C, February 6, 1878. Formal acceptance was dated July 10, 1878. Nine days later an ice factory was put Into operation, in connection with the water works (the earlier Ice factory having been started ;n 1866). Formal inspection of the completed water works took place April 8, 1879. The stockholders in 1879 were J. B. La Coste, Geo. W. Brackenridge, Wm. G. Freeman, James P. Newcomb, W. R. Freemand, and F. Herff, Jr., who issued $50,000 stock. J. H. Kampmann, G. H. Noonan, Jacob Waelder and J. A. Fraser were added to the list of directors. La Coste sold to Brackenridge in 1883.

1955 Fabulous San Antonio, by Albert Curtis
Pages 273-275:  In this pioneering pre-American period in San Antonio, so Mrs. Elizabeth O. Graham reveals from her voluminous research, "aquadores" or water-peddlers sold water throughout the city to those who had no connection with the river or its many branching acequias, carrying two small barrels of water-yokes on their shoulders, or more picturesquely on small two-wheeled donkey carts. Later, Mrs. Graham explains, wells and cisterns came into style, and these were the favored "refrigerators" of the pioneer San Antoman housewives.
Thus was pioneer San Antonio water-serviced until in 1878 a private waterworks was first established by the enterprising San Antonian J.B. Lacoste, and his associates.  (In 1875, a Mr. Mahon, representing the National Waterworks Company of New York City, proposed to build a waterworks system in San Antonio, provided that suitable inducements were offered by way of subsidies. The San Antonio Express carried these items: public interest was aroused and a meeting of interested parties was called to meet at the Menger Hotel. Then the city dads met in session, proposed and passed an ordinance favoring the New York company. But the inducements evidently were not promising enough; the New Yorkers departed, and the work was left for San Antonians to carry through).
J.B. Lacoste and his associates built a raceway and a pumphouse near the headsprings of the river, in today's Brackenridge Park.  This raceway of the pioneers carried the river water to a nearby large reservoir, from which by gravity it was distributed throughout San Antonio, according to Bert J. McLean, author of "The Romance of San Antonio's Water Supply and Distribution." In 1883, McLean says, the banker, Colonel George W. Brackenridge, took over the water company and then (1891) introduced the first of the artesian wells that now service San Antonio with her remarkably pure drinking water that is exceptionally low in mineral content, and called the second best in the United States.
Moreover, this drinking water is free from any contamination, for it does not see the light of day until it flows out from the water taps, as Howard M. Van Auken, former vice president and general manager of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, his hard-working publicity director, Joseph Musgrave, and charming tourist director, Miss Rae Ford, told thousands of tourists every year.
It is interesting to note that seven acequias or irrigation ditches serviced old-time San Antonio and her four outlying mission farms, and with such success that San Antonio soon became known as "the garden spot of Texas." Hundreds of laterals ran off these main acequias, adding to the novel appearance of a city crisscrossed with irrigation ditches that made every home a floral paradise and the city a "wilderness of roses."

1957 "A Study of the Influence of Water on the Growth of San Antonio," by W.C. Chase, Master's Thesis, Trinity University

1961 "Brackenridge and His Control of San Antonio's Water Supply, 1869-1905," by Bobbie Whitten Morgan, Master's Thesis, Trinity University

1962 "San Antonio," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker

1973 George W. Brackenridge: Maverick Philanthropist, by Marilyn Mcadams Sibley

1979 "Archaeological and Historical Assessment of Brackenridge City Park of San Antonio, Texas," by Susanna R. Katz and Ann A. Fox, from Index of Texas Archaeology, Open Access Gray Literature from the Lone Star State 1979(4)

1985 F. Giraud and San Antonio: a biography based on recorded evidence plus circumstantial surmises based on this evidence, by Emily Edwards
Page 30: The drought that began in 1847 continued without a break for 18 months, lasting into 1849, with desperate need and great suffering among the immigrants and settlers, too. Not only in the town, but in the Lockmar household, Giraud found time to be quietly busy. As the drought continued, he was needed everywhere. The water in the acequias he made safely potable and had it placed under guards, so that nothing but a clean bucket could enter it. No laundry, no bathing was now allowed in the town's waterworks. There was the river for everything else--all but for drinking. This had been his most urgent task and he felt a great relief.
Page 53:  Acequias for the missions had been built first for irrigation: Pajalache for Mission Concepcion, San Jose Acequia, and Alamo Madre for Mission San Antonio de Valero, before the Canary Islanders built San Pedro Acequia largely for domestic use. In all, there were seven ditches or acequias in the system. Of these, one is still in limited use. This is Acequia Espada for which its dam and an aqueduct still serve.

1994 "Compagnie des Eaux de San Antonio," from The Belgian Texans, second edition, revised.
Page 15:  In 1906 the San Antonio Water Supply Company was organized to supply the city of San Antonio. The organization experienced financial difficulty, and after three years 90 percent of the stock was sold to a group of Belgian investors in Antwerp. Under a new name, "Compagnie des Eaux de San Antonio," they not only continued the waterworks, but expanded it. From 1910 to 1920 the city's population almost doubled. In 1914 Germany invaded Belgium, and all communications between the stockholders in Antwerp and the company in San Antonio were cut off. Throughout World War I the interest and dividends that ordinarily would have been sent to the investors were put back into the company for expansion. When the armistice was signed in 1918 the Belgian owners badly needed money to rebuild their devastated land. The Belgian franc had fallen to its lowest point; so, by selling their stock, they would be getting a comparatively greater number of francs for use at home. In 1920 a syndicate of San Antonio businessmen purchased the stock from the Belgian investors . Since the company's net worth had increased considerably there was a substantial profit for both parties.

2007 "The Acequias of San Antonio and the Beginnings of a Modern Water System," by Dana Nichols, from Environmental and Water Resources: Milestones in Engineering History, edited by J. Rogers, 79-83.

2009 Spanish Water, Anglo Water: Early Development in San Antonio, by Charles R. Porter, Jr. | also here (subscription required) |

2010 "LaCoste, Jean Baptiste," by S.W. Pease, from Handbook of Texas Online

2011 "0% More Water:  A Geographic Comparison of the Conservation Strategies of San Antonio Water Systems and Colorado Springs Utilities," by Melissa Nicole Rowell, Honors Thesis, Texas State University - San Marcos, May, 2011

2011 Edwards Aquifer Bibliography Through 2010, compiled by Robert Esquilin, Edwards Aquifer Authority

2017 Powering a City: How Energy and Big Dreams Transformed San Antonio, by Catherine Nixon Cooke

Inventory of the San Antonio Water Works Company Records, 1878-1881, University of Texas San Antonio

City Water Board Records, 1918-1995, City of San Antonio

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce