Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography

Ownership and Financing of American Water Works
Consumers Water Company.

Consumers Water Company

The Consumers Water Company was incorporated on February 18, 1926 by George F. and Vernon F. West, partners in George F. West & Son, a well-known and highly successful water utility construction and management firm; Herbert Payson and Harold C. Payson, partners in H.M. Payson & Company, the largest and most influential underwriter of utility firms in America at that time; William B. Skelton, a lawyer who previously served as chairman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission; Philip Burgess, one of the principals from an engineering firm that designed water utility pumping stations and other facilities for the water utilities industry; and James W. Coburn, a businessman with extensive experience in accounting.

By 1930 the new company has acquired 12 water companies, many of which were already owned or controlled by H.M. Payson & Company or George F. West & Son.  No further water companies were acquired until 1959.

The Philadelphia Suburban Corporation acquired Consumers Water Company on March 10, 1999.  Philadelphia Suburban was renamed Aqua America in 2004. 

The following table shows companies that were bought and sold by the Consumers Water Company:

Kankakee IL Kankakee Water Company 1926
Orono ME Penobscot County Water Company 1926 Sold to Orono-Veazie Water District in November 1976
Sharon PA Shenango Valley Water Company 1926
Masury OH Masury Water Co 1926
Beaver Falls PA Beaver Valley Water Company 1926 Sold to Beaver Falls Municipal Authority in 1940.
Delaware OH Delaware Water Co 1927 Sold to city of Delaware on October 29, 1936
Girardville PA Consumers Water Company of Girardville 1927
Williamsport PA Williamsport Water Company 1927 Sold to Community Water Service Company in July, 1927
York Shore ME York Shore Water Co 1927 Sold to York Water District in 1929
Plattsmouth NE Plattsmouth Water Corp. 1928 Sold to city of Plattsmouth in 1943
Hudson NH Hudson Water Co. 1930 Sold to town of Hudson in 1998
Waterport ME Winterport Water Co. 1930 Sold to Winterport Water District in 1969
Freeport ME Freeport Water Co. 1930 Sold to Connecticut Water Service, Inc. in January, 2012.
Roanoke VA Roanoke Water Works Co 1930 Sold to the city of Roanoke on April 30, 1938
Springfield MO Springfield City Water Company 1930 Sold to the city of Springfield on December 30, 1957
Camden & Rockland ME Camden & Rockland Water Co 1959 Sold to Connecticut Water Service, Inc. in January, 2012.
Newport ME Newport Water Company 1963 Sold to Newport Water District in 1980.
Wilton ME Wilton Water Company 1964 Sold to Wilton Water District in 1983.
Wiscasset ME Wiscasset Water Company 1964 Sold to Connecticut Water Service, Inc. in January, 2012.
Damariscotta ME Damariscotta Water Co. 1964 October 30, 1994
Blackwood NJ Blackwood 1964
Hamilton Square NJ Hamilton Square 1965
Wanakah NY Wanakah Water Co 1965
Oakland ME Oakland Water Co. 1968 Sold to Connecticut Water Service, Inc. in January, 2012.
Sayre PA Pennsylvania Water Co 1968
Phillipsburg PA People's Water Co of Phillipsburg 1968

Kezar Falls ME Kezar Falls 1971 Sold to Connecticut Water Service, Inc. in January, 2012.
Massillon and others OH Ohio Water Service Co 1973
University Park IL University Park Division 1984
Shamokin PA Roaring Creek Water Company 1985
Danville IL Inter-State Water Company 1986
Woodhaven IL Woodhaven Utilities Company 1987
Califon NJ Califon Water Company 1987
Candlewick Lane Association IL Candlewick water system 1988
Hartland ME Hartland Water Co 1996 Sold to Connecticut Water Service, Inc. in January, 2012.
Bucksport ME Bucksport Water Co. 1996 Sold to Connecticut Water Service, Inc. in January, 2012.
Merger PA Mercer Water Co 1996
NJ Lakeland Hospital water system 1995
Rapho Township PA Rapho Township water system 1994

1954 H.M. Payson & Co. : partnership for 100 years 1854-1954. by H.M. Payson & Co.
Pages 18-19:  For many years Charles H., George S. and Herbert, as partners in the firm of H. M. Payson & Co., were active as the financial agents of all the American Water Works and Guarantee Company's properties.
With the organization, in 1888, of the American Water Supply Co., Charles H. and his partners became familiar with the operational end of water utilities, as well, and assumed a threefold responsibility: to distribute and deal in securities for the benefit of the public, to help finance and operate business enterprise, and to develop opportunities for the benefit of both.
As the owner of the American Water Supply Co., H. M. Payson & Co. purchased outright the securities of water companies all the way from New Hampshire to Kansas, and operated them out of the Portland office as a successful business venture.  Eventually the American Water Supply Co. was liquidated. However, H. M. Payson & Co., has continued its interest in Water Companies through the Consumers Water Company which was organized in 1926 to own and operate water works properties. Consumers Water Company now manages properties supplying water to Biddeford, Maine; Sharon, Pennsylvania; Kankakee, Illinois; Springfield, Missouri; and other towns and cities.

1979 Consumers Water Company Annual Report

1983 "A Brief History of Consumers Water Company," by Brian M. Mullany, Water:  Voice of the National Association of Water Companies 24(4):28-31 (Winter, 1983)

1984 Eighteen Years of Progress: The History of Consumers Water Company Under the Direction of John W.L. White

1986 Consumers Water Company Annual Report

1988 Consumers Water Company Annual Report

1988 Consumers Water Company: Not Just Another Utility, John Van C. Parker

1994 SEC Form 10-K for Consumers Water Company, December 31, 1994

1996 SEC Form 10-K for Consumers Water Company, December 31, 1996

1996 Consumers Water Company History

2000 From Maine to the Main Line: a history of Consumers Water Company, by John van C Parker

2004 H.M. Payson & Co : a foundation of trust for 150 years, by John H Walker and Peter E Robbins
Page 20:  Through his experience with the Portland Water Company, Charles saw the opportunity to finance, develop, acquire and operate other water utilities that needed capital and plant improvements. By the time he had left on his successful foray to London, Charles had started, with several partners, the American Water Works and Guarantee Company created to build and develop water properties, and the American Water Supply Company which owned and operated water companies from New Hampshire to Colorado - neither of which should be confused with today's American Water Works.
Through its very active underwriting of utility bonds, H.M. Payson & Co. provided the financing these two companies needed to buy and improve water properties. By the early 1900s, the Company had underwriting relationships with over 100 companies. It helped to finance other water companies from Maine to California - and had by then become widely known as "The Water Bond House."
Pages 21-22:  In 1926, the partners of H.M. Payson represented by Herbert Payson, Charles's younger brother, and Harold C. Payson, HM's grandson, came together with five other partners, each bringing their respective expertise in the water business, to form the Consumer's Water Company. The Company had seven dollars in assets, representing the one-dollar contribution from each of the partners on the day of incorporation.
This Company provided returns to its shareholders that would be the envy of any venture capital or buyout firm today.
In less than six years, this new water utility holding company had 10 subsidiaries in seven states. Consumers total assets were over $22 million and common shareholder equity was over $4.5 million - or, again in constant dollars they created over $54 million in shareholder value. True, some of the value came from the utilities already owned by several of the partners that were sold into the new company, but the preponderance of the value came from making and financing acquisitions from third parties at favorable terms. (The whole story of Consumers Water Company is engagingly recounted in John Parker's recent book, From Maine to the Maine Line).

2019 Morris A. Pierce