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

Frontage Tax

Many systems were authorized to charge a tax on properties that did not take water, although where pipes were installed in the street.  They were unpopular, but effective in securing additional paying customers.

1844 West Chester PA authorized to collect a Protection Tax

1850 New York City effective May 1, authorized by 1849 law

1853 Ohio law covering all cities and villages in the state
5. For the purpose of paying the expenses of conducting and managing water works, the trustees of water works shall have power to assess and collect, from time to time, a water rent of sufficient amount, in such manner as they may deem most equitable, upon each and every tenement adjoining, abutting to, or bounded upon any street, lane, alley, public ground, square, block, or premises through which water pipe has been laid.

1855 Chicago

1855 Troy

1855 Requested by Commercial Bank of New Orleans

1857 Media, PA Protection tax

1858 Philadelphia PA

1859 Brooklyn

1861 Bethlehem Pa Water Company

1861 Springfield, Illinois

1863 Washington, D.C.

1868 Allentown PA Company authorized to assess water rents "upon every dwelling house situated in any of the streets, lanes and alleys of the said city, in, through and along which, and as far as the water pipes of the company are now laid and shall hereafter be laid, and to collect the said assessments or rents in the same manner as water rents are now collected."

1868 Saratoga Springs NY

1869 Peoria

1869 Detroit

1869 Quincy

1870 Nazareth PA water company

1871 Conshohoken PA gas and water company, protection tax

1871 White Haven Water Company, PA water company allowed to charge a frontage tax

1872 Illinois allowed any city or village to impose a frontage tax

1873 Altoona PA

1873 Lebanon PA, repealed 1878

1875 Long Island City, New York

1876 Winchester VA A law passed in 1876 gave the City of Westminster the right to impose a tax on all property that would be paid to a private water company, should one be

1898 Charleston SC attempt to fund water works with a frontage tax was ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme Court.

Niagara Falls

1850 Boston Evening Transcript, Jan 21, 1850, Page 2.
New York and Boston Water Works.  The new ordinance compelling every house and lot to pay water rates, whether taken or not.

1904 Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Convention of the American Water Works Association (June 6-11, 1904)
Pages 486-489:  "About Collection of Water Rates in Advance - Also list of Cities Collecting Frontage Tax," by Dow R. Gwinn, President and Manager Terre Haute Water Works Co., Terre Haute, Ind.,

2016 Morris A. Pierce