Documentary History of American Water-works

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New England States Vermont Burlington

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington was organized in 1785.

The first water works was constructed by the Burlington Aqueduct Company, which was incorporated in 1821 by Ebenezer T. Englesby, Archibald W. Hyde, Timothy Follett, Andrew Thompson, William A. Griswold, Moses Bliss, Philo Doolittle and John Howard "for the purpose of completing and repairing said aqueduct."  No further information has been found about this system.

Another Burlington Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1849 by Frederick Smith, William H. Wilkins Jr., Ralph Landon and John McDonald Jr..  This company expanded a water system that had been begun around 1827 to supply the Champlain Glass Company.

The City of Burlington bought the water system on October 1, 1866 for $24,000, and constructed a new water system the following year.

The Burlington water system is owned by the City of Burlington.

1821 An act, to incorporate an Aqueduct Company in the town of Burlington, November 3, 1821.

1849 An act to incorporate the Burlington Aqueduct Company, November 7, 1849.

1850 "Burlington Aqueduct Company," The Burlington Free Press, November 19, 1850, Page 2.
They have threaded our principal streets with iron conductors.

1855 "Fire District No. 1," The Burlington Free Press, March 29, 1855, Page 2.
That as inhabitants of the town, the right to use water from the pipes of the Burlingotn Aqueduct Company, as given by its Charter, shall be made available.

1864 An act authorizing the Burlington Aqueduct Company to increase its capital stock, November 21, 1864.

1865 An act to amend the charter of the Burlington Aqueduct Company, November 3, 1865.

1866 Report of the committee on water works, with the analysis of lake and river water by H. M. Seely and report of W. J. McAlpine, Burlington, Vt. City Council.

1866 Report of the Committee on Supply of Water for the City.

1866 Report of D. C. Linsley, Engineer of Burlington City Water Works, to the City Council: Made in Compliance with a Resolution Passed August 6, 1886, Instructing Him "To Report to the Board Such Plan for the Construction of Water Works As, in His Opinion, Should be Adopted."

1866 Reply of Wm. J. McAlpine, to the report of D.C. Linsley, engineer of Burlington city water works, made to the city council October 7, 1866, by William J McAlpine

1867 "Veto of Water Resolution by the Mayor," The Burlington Free Press, January 8, 1867, Page 4.

1882 Burlington, from Engineering News 9:436 (December 23, 1882)

1882 Gazetteer and Business Directory of Chittenden County, Vermont, for 1882-83
Page 100:  Water Works. The water supply, at the time of the organization of the city, was exceedingly poor, as may be inferred from the following official statement, made in 1865 : " There are 650 who depend for their entire supply of water upon the lake, which is mostly hauled in casks ; 1828 persons who depend entirely upon cisterns ; 1,214 upon cisterns and wells, fifty-seven upon springs and the lake ; forty-eight are entirely dependent on their neighbors, and one thousand persons receive water from the Aqueduct Company."
The great cause of this deficiency was the difficulty, and at most points impossibility, of sinking wells a sufficient depth to strike a water vein ; but the lake and the Winooski afforded means for an abundant supply, and the city council early turned their serious attention to the subject. The village had been afforded an indifferent supply by an aqueduct company, organized in 1850.
As early as 1827, the Champlain Glass Company, whose works were located on the lake shore near the Battery Park, laid a line of log pipes thereto, from or near the present residence of Henry Loomis, on Pearl street, for the purpose of conducting water to their factory from several springs in that vicinity. This line was in use until 1850, when Frederick Smith, who at that time was a part owner of the glass factory property, started a stock company, known as the Burlington Aqueduct Company, which was incorporated by the legislature for the purpose of furnishing the village with an adequate supply. The old logs were superceded by iron pipes, about three miles of which were laid during the first year. A reservoir, forty feet square and twelve feet in depth, arched over with brick, was built in the center of Pearl, near Williams street, which is still in existence. This reservoir was supplied by four springs, two being situated on the lot now owned and occupied by George L. Linsley, at that time owned by Warren Root, and two just above him, one in the center of the street.  Subsequently, about the year 1855, an arrangement was made with the old Pioneer Shop Company, by which water was pumped from the lake. But even then, as previously shown, the growth of the community had made the supply wholly inadequate to the demand; consequently, the city took the affair in hand and issued bonds to the amount of $150,000.00 for the construction of new works, and bought the property of the Aqueduct Company for $24,000.00, coming into possession October 1, 1866. A resolution for the construction of the new works was adopted by the city council on the 2d day of April, 1867, and the city now has one of the finest supplies in the State. The reservoir is situated at the junction of Winooski turnpike and University place, a distance from the pump-house of 8,362 feet, with a head of 289 feet, and a capacity of 2,236,000 gallons. The pump-house and machinery are situated at the foot of Pearl street, and were first put into operation December 25, 1867. There are at present twenty seven miles of mains, with 1,620 service pipes or taps, through which was used, during the year 1881, 216,869,535 gallons of water, for which the city received $24,407.21. Throughout the city there are 123 public, and twenty private fire-hydrants, the great force of the water precluding the necessity of fire engines, as hose has only to be attached to the hydrant when a powerful stream is thrown. In addition to the first appropriation of the city, there has been bonds issued at different periods until the whole bonded debt of the water works is now $244,900.00, and their entire cost $271,470.83.

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

1887 "High Service Motor, Burlington City Water Works," by F.H. Parker, Superintendent, Journal of the New England Water Works Association 2(1):63-68 (September, 1887)

1887 "A High Service Motor," by F. H. Parker, C. E. from Engineering News 18:234 (October 1, 1887)

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

1889 Burlington, Vt. as a Manufacturing, Business, and Commercial Center: With Brief Sketches of Its History, Attractions, Leading Industries, and Institutions
Page 24:  Water Works. The water supply of Burlington is as good as can be found anywhere in the country. The supply is taken from Lake Champlain and is forced to reservoirs 300 feet above the level of the lake, which gives an excellent head of water in every house in the City, besides being ample in case of fire. The capacity of the reservoirs is over 6,000,000 gallons. The water taxes are paid by the consumer directly to the city treasurer, the rates being as low as any city and much lower than many. Water is distributed to every part of the City through thirty-one miles of main. There are 175 hydrants scattered over the City, affording, with the ever-ready head of water, ample protection against fire.

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

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

1892 "Concealment of the Sanitary Condition of Cities," from Engineering News 28:84 (July 28, 1892).  Sanitary condition of Burlington water supply suppressed.

1894 "Submerged Water-Works Intake At Burlington, Vt.," from Engineering News 31:512 (June 21, 1894)

1895 Picturesque Burlington: A Handbook of Burlington, Vermont, and Lake Champlain
Page 47:  Water Supply- The source of Burlington's water supply is Lake Champlain, a body of water so vast and so active as to be in no danger of contamination. The source of supply is therefore of undoubted purity and potableness. The water works were constructed in 1867. The pumping station is on the lake shore, and the water is pumped into a magnificent double reservoir on the hill, nearly 300 feet above the lake. This reservoir holds seven million gallons, and it is so far above the business part of the city as to furnish ample pressure for fire service without the use of an engine.  The residences and buildings on the hill above receive their water from a higher service, the supply of which is furnished from the main reservoir by an ingenious motor invented by Mr. W. H. Lang, which works automatically and keeps the higher service supplied at absolutely no cost for power. The higher service tank holds a hundred and seventy thousand gallons. The water is well distributed about the city in thirty-three miles of mains. The pumping is done with two Worthington pumps, having a daily capacity of 1,500,000 gallons ; the daily average consumption of water in 1892 was 789,289 gallons. The fire service is supplied by 175 hydrants. The cost of the waterworks was $374,000 ; the annual expense is about $20,000, exclusive of interest on bonds, about $10,000; the receipts from water rents are about $40,000, leaving a large net profit to the city each year.

1895 "The Water System of Burlington, Vt." by F. H. Crandall, C. E. Superintendent, Journal of the New England Water Works Association 10:150-166 (read September 1895)

1895 "On the Sanitary Condition Past and Present of the Water Supply of Burlington, Vermont." by William T. Sedgwick, Journal of the New England Water Works Association 10:167-183

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

2016 Morris A. Pierce