Documentary History of American Water-works

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Technology Water Meters

Water Meters

| Per Capita Water Consumption | Water Rates | Units of Water Measurement |

Water systems used several units to measure water consumption in the early Nineteenth Cen

Before public water systems were developed, water was sold by vendors by the bucket, barrel of other common measure.

The first water works systems charged customers a flat rate based on factors such as the number of fireplaces, number of rooms, number of occupants, taxable value of the building, occupancy type, or lot frontage.  Later, charges were assessed based on the number of fixtures in use, including sinks, bathtubs, urinals, water closets, etc.  None of these were particularly useful in determining the actual amount of water consumed, and water system managers constantly warned of water being wasted.  In some systems water going into sewers was monitored to detect waste, but in an age before reliable central heating many consumers would leave their hydrants open during freezing weather to avoid damage from frozen pipes.

Water system managers generally knew how much water was being distributed each day, and could compare their average consumption person with other systems, although per capita consumption was affected by a wide range of factors. 

Water meters had been introduced into Great Britain around 1825, but did not make an appearance in the United States until 1850, after large systems in New York and Boston greatly increased the number of water consumers in those cities.  Widespread adoption of water closets and bathtubs greatly increased consumption and hastened the introduction of water meters, which eventually made their way into private dwellings.

1850 Evening Post (New York City, New York), May 15, 1850, Page 1.
The comptroller to whom was refered the communication from the Croton Aqueduct Department, asking an appropriation of $1,600 to procure a water meter, presented a report in favor there, which an ordinance providing therefore.  Which was adopted.

1850 The Sixth Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitage Mechanic Association, at Faneuil and Quincy Halls, in the City of Boston, September 1850
Pages 14-15:   Samuel Huse, Boston. A Water Meter. This machine, which is entirely of a novel construction, consists of a hollow cylinder, of about one foot in length and one foot in diameter, and a solid cylinder of some six inches in diameter, placed within the hollow cylinder. The surface of this solid cylinder is composed of some five or six valves, which extend from one end of it to the other, and are attached by hinges to as many solid portions of said cylinder, of nearly the same width. These valves, when folded, or shut into the cylinder, form a little more than half its surface. Upon one side of the Meter, the space between the inside of the hollow and the surface of the solid cylinders, is so filled as to occupy something more than the width of one of the valves. This filling is made to fit so exactly, as to prevent the water from passing. Upon one side of this filling, the water enters the Meter, and upon the other side the water is discharged. The Meter being so placed that the valves will, by the force of gravity, open as they reverse from under the solid filling, and shut upon the opposite side previous to coming in contact with it. When thus arranged, the water is then let into the cylinder, and comes in contact with the open valves; the inner cylinder revolves until the water escapes upon the opposite side ; and of course, for every revolution of the interior cylinder, a given quantity of water must pass through the Meter. We hardly need to mention, that there are some three or four valves open at the same time, and which are constantly in action. The necessity for a perfect self-acting Meter for measuring water in cities supplied with that element, by what we term Water Works, has long been felt and acknowledged; and it affords us much pleasure to have it in our power to announce to those interested, that we believe that the instrument which we have thus briefly attempted to describe possesses the properties desired, in an eminent degree; is deserving' the honorable notice of the association, and merits the award of a Silver Medal.

1851 "New Motive Power for the Fast Presses," New-York Herald, January 29, 1851, Page 3.
[From the Boston Traveller, Jan. 25]
This monster press (Hoe's fast printing press) is driven by a novel and moat convenient and powerful little machine, which is seen on the right of the printing press, consisting of a small cylinder, with cog-wheels and a pulley attached. It is called a water metre or power metre, and was invented by that ingenious mechanic, Mr. Samuel Huse, of this city, well known for his efficient labors as assistant superintendent of the Cochituate water works Thia machine was originally invented as a water measurer; and this is the first application of it as a motive power, it being found to possess this power to a most unexpected and extraordinary degree. It is simple, yet wonderfully efficient. It consists of a hollow cylinder, 10 inches wide and 16 inches in diameter; inside of which is a flange cylinder, about 6 inches in diameter. This inner cylinder has flanges, on which are four valves, extending from one end to the other of the cylinder, and attached to it by hinges. These valves, when folded, or shut into the cylinder, form a little more than half its surface. Upon one side of the metre, the space between the inside of the hollow and the surface of the flange cylinder, is so filled as to occupy something more than the width of one of the valves. This filling is made to fit so exactly as to prevent the water from passing upon one side of this filling, the water enters the metre, and upon the other side the water is discharged. The metre is so placed that the valves will, by the force of gravity, open as they reverse from under the solid filling, and shut upon the opposite side previous to coming in contact with it. When thus arranged, the water is let into the cylinder, and comes in contact with the open valves; the inner cylinder revolves until the water escapes upon the opposite side: and of course, for every revolution of the interior cylinder, a given quantity of water must pass through the metre.  This is carefully marked by means of a clock which is attached to the cylinder, and which will indicate the precise quantity of water which has passed through the machine in any given time.
The revolving flange cylinder is connected, externally, with cog wheels, a shaft, and pulley; and from the pulley a belt extends to the driving wheel of the printing machine.
This metre, or water wheel, is driven by the Cochituate water, introduced from a aix inch distributing pipe through a two inch lead pipe; and the flow of the water is regulated by means of a screw gate near the metre. This wheel, though so small as to occupy only about 24 inches of room, affords about three horse motive power.

1851 "Croton Water," The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, Louisiana), February 4, 1851, Page 2.
A writer in the New York Courier offers these suggestions: "A water meter, if not already invented, could be made as easily as gas meter, and it would be a subject worthy of premium from our city, to the invention best adapted to the use. Will not the Croton Board furnish information how long water may remain in lead pipe without being injurious to health? and also inform the honestly disposed of the scanty supply, that they may cease to do what is wrong and against their own and the public good! "A water meter was invented several yearn since by Prof. Forshey, and offered to the Water Works of this city; but they declined the purchase. As to the effect of lead pipes on water, we can also refer them to Dr. E. D. Fenner, of this city, who has been for several months conducting a series of experiments to ascertain this information, so important to the public health.

1851 "Great Mechanical Improvement - A new use of the Boston Aqueduct," New-York Daily Tribune, February 5, 1851, Page 6.
Since the introduction and use of the Cochituate water in Boston, it became very necessary to ascertain precisely the quantity of water made use of daily by the large establishments in Boston, as the engineers and the owners could not agree as to the probable amount. Those having the water-works in charge, instead of waiting tor accident to produce a machine suited to the purpose of measuring the water, sought among the mechanics in their employ and in the State, for one possessed of the skill most likely to succeed in the enterprise. Mr. Samuel Huse, formerly a citizen of Newburyport, was selected for this undertaking. He has succeeded in producing an instrument which admirably answers the purpose.
By the employment of this machine in Boston over most of the street of which the water in the pipes has a head of from 80 to 100 feet, it has been discovered by Mr. Huse that the water would pass the meter or measurer with such force as to superadd an efficient power. He has perfected, according to the statements of a correspondent of the Newburyport Herald, his invention and secured letters patent, and has set his meter in operation for driving the printing press of a daily paper in Boston. Through a two inch lead pipe, a stream of Chochituate water is introduced into a meter which only  occupies 24 square inches. The fall of water between the Boston reservoir and this meter is about a hundred feet.  This two inch stream will discharge 60 gallons of water each minute, and in passing through the meter will gave a motive power equal to what is called three horse power. This is more than sufficient for driving the press. It is less hazardous than a steam engine, requires no attention and is always in readiness. It can be used where steam engines would not be allowed.
This invention will be of immense service to the various mechanical and manufacturing establishments in Boston, enabling many more of them than formerly to make use of this power in their various processes.  The invention is one of much scientific and mechanical interest, while to us, we must confess there is a trifle additional interest from the fact that it comes from a citizen of our native town.

1851 "Water Meters and Fire Telegraphs," by Caleb G. Forshey, February 4, 1851, The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, Louisiana), February 11, 1851, Page 2.
It was put up at the office of the water-works, and a committee of men of science tested it, and reported it completely successful for the purpose intended. It was then offered to the water-works for one-half of the water saved in any one year after its introduction, or for three thousand dollars.  The offer was declined.
I have made arrangements with the water-works of Cincinnati to introduce it, but have not recently learned how they progress.

1851 "Water Meter," Boston Evening Transcript, February 14, 1851, Page 2.
An old subscriber to the Transcript wishes, through its medium, respectfully to inquire of the "Water Commissioners," if there cannot be some gage arranged at each house, as is the case in the Gas Company, by which the quantity of water used may be correctly ascertained, and paid for accordingly, instead of the present system.  There seems to be no good reason, or justice, in one house, which uses say 100 gallons a day, paying the same as another that uses 1000, or other misuses it, by suffering it to run to waste in the night time.  Economy.

1852 Annual of Scientific Discovery: Or, Year-book of Facts in Science and Art
Page 60:  New Water Metre. For every revolution of the interior cylinder, a given quantity of water must pass through the metre. This is carefully marked by means of a clock which is attached to the cylinder, and which will indicate the precise quantity of water which has passed through the machine in any given time.
Page 61:  Ericsson's Water Metre

1854 "Water Meters," New-York Herald, February 20, 1854, Page 7.  | Also here |
Sealed proposals will be received at the office of the Croton Aqueduct Department, Rotunda Park, until February 27th, 1851 at three o'clock p.m., for five ⅝ inch Water-Meters, ten one inch water meters, and ten 1¼ inch Water-Meters, to be of the kind now in use by the Department, and known as Huse's Patent.  Also ten ⅜ inch Water-Meters of such kind and description, whether patented or otherwise, as may be approved on trial, and accepted by the department.  To be delivered as may be required.  The names of two responsible sureties will be required to accompany each proposal.

1854 American Water Meter Company incorporated April 10, 1854.  Daniel Tyler, President; Ossian Gregory, Secretary; Joseph R. Taylor, Treasurer.  Mr. Samuel Huse having disposed of all title and interest in  his patent to the American Water Meter Company.

1854 The American Water Meter Company, Incorporated Under the Laws of the State of New York, 116 Broadway, New York: Daniel Tyler, President, June 5, 1854.

1854 Daily Telegraph (Jersey City, New Jersey), August 24, 1854, Page 2.
Water Commissioners.  On motion, Coms. Hill and Randall were appointed a committee to procure suitable water meters.

1854 New York Herald, December 22, 1854, Page 8.
Office of the American Water Meter Company, 116 Broadway.- New York, December 21, 1854 - Proposals will be received by this company at their office until the 25th instant, for making 1,000 meters.  All necessary information will be given by calling at the office.  The proposals must name the time when the meters, or each hundred of them will be delivered, as well as the price charged.  The contractor will have the benefit of all moulds and patterns now on hand.  Ossian Gregory, Secretary.

1855 Evening Post (New York City, New York), June 28, 1855, Page 3.
Notice. - The Stockholders of the American Water Meter Company are hereby notified, that by a resolution of the board of trustees of the company, passed this day, 27th June 1855, an installment of six dollars and twenty-five cents on each share of stock, (being the third installment on the same amount) is called in.  Samuel Huse, Secretary

1857 "Measuring Water," The Pittsburgh Gazette, January 30, 1857, Page 1.

1857 "New Invention," Brooklyn Evening Star, April 17, 1857, Page 3.
New water meter invented by Messrs. S. J. Burr & Read.

1859 Report of the Cochituate water board, to the City council of Boston, for the year 1858. January 6, 1859.
Page 9:  The subject of meters has received a good share of the attention of the board; and it is a pleasure to state that Worthington's meters, which have been tested to a considerable extent, bid fair to be reliable.  Made of iron, they are subject to corrosion; but made of composition, they are thought to be unexceptional.  Their cost is higher than is desirable, but it is deemed best to use the most expensive.  As the Hewes meters, which have been in use for several years, are found to be imperfect and unreliable, the Board have ordered (in addition to 12 now in use on trial,) 63 new composition meters of Worthington, the cost of which will be near $5,000.  The use of meters in several cases appears to be indispensible, and it is thought best, in replenishing the stock of the city, that an article worthy of confidence, both in accuracy and durability, should be obtained.

1860 "Patent Water Meter," Commercial Bulletin (Boston, Massachusetts), March 24, 1860, Page 4.

1860 "Cheap Water," The New York Times, October 9, 1860, Page 4.

1861 Harvey D.Parker & another vs. City of Boston, 83 Mass. 361, January Term 1861, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
An assessment for a quarter of a year, made by the water registrar under the direction of the water board of Boston, at the rate of two cents for each one hundred gallons of water used in a hotel in Boston, the daily consumption of which, as measured by a water-meter placed therein under the provisions of the city ordinance, exceeds 10,000 gallons a day, is legal; although water-meters have been put into only a portion of the hotels in Boston, and although the assessment, if made according to the provisions of the city ordinance applicable to hotels into which no water-meters have been put, would have amounted to only about one fourth as much.

1861 "Waste of Water," American Gas-Light Journal 2:364 (June 1, 1861).
In the report of the Cochituate Water Board of Boston, Mass., it is stated that the amount of water used during the year averaged the enormous amount of 97 gallons to each individual daily!

1861 Boston Evening Transcript, October 4, 1861, Page 2.
Mr. Samuel Huse, formerly connected with the Cochituate Water Works, has received an appointment as sailing master of the steamer James Adger, now at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

1862 The water metre, and the actual measurement system of charging for public water, by Frank Grant Johnson, M.D.

1864 "Introduction of Water Meters," The Pittsburgh Gazette, May 25, 1864, Page 1.

1864 "Water Meters in Philadelphia," Pittston Gazette, May 26, 1864, Page 1.

1864 "Water Meters in Philadelphia," from American Gas Light Journal 6:9 (July 1, 1864)
All large consumers of water in Philadelphia are to be charged hereafter by the gallon.  Mr. Birkinbine, the chief engineer, has issued a circular announcing that water meters will be introduced at the expense of the consumers, and bills collected quarterly at the following rates:  From one thousand to ten thousand gallons per day, two cents per thousand gallons; for from ten thousand to twenty thousand gallons per day, one and a half cents per hundred gallons; for from twenty thousand gallons per day and upward, one cent per hundred gallons.

1868 American Water Meter Company incorporated January 28, 1868 by Henry De Casse, Robert Wescott, Joseph Richardson, Royal M. Bassett, William H. Brown, Ingham Coryell, and Silas B. Dutcher have united and formed a company for the manufacturing and sale of water meter and such other articles as they may deem expedient and the purchase and sale of such patents as they may deem necessary in carrying on their business.  Capital stock to be one million dollars divided into ten thousand shares of one hundred dollars each.

1870 National Meter Company organized in Brooklyn by John C. Kelley, January 5, 1870.

1870 An act to incorporate the American Water Meter Company.  March 31, 1870. .Jacob W. Pierce, Thomas Parsons, B. F. Nourse, and G. H. Ashcroft; capital $48,000.

1870 Price list of water meters, valves, pressure regulators, steam gongs, and plumbing materials manufactured by the Union Water Meter Company, Hamilton Street Worcester Mass.

1872 "The Horizontal Piston Water meter," from The Manufacturer and Builder 4(5):109 (May, 1872) Union Water Meter Company

1873 "The Proposed Introduction of Water Meters in Cities," Scientific American 28(10):145 (March 8, 1873)
The city authorities of Brooklyn are manifesting some apprehension regarding the enormous waste of water in that city. That a vast and unnecessary drain is thus made upon the supply is fully evidenced by the fact that the amount now used averages fifty gallons per day for every individual of the population, and it is in view og the circumstance that the present yearly consumption would soon exceed the capacity of the reservoirs, now 40,000,000 gallons, and necessitate the incurring of heavy additional indebtedness of the city, that the municipal government is seriously considering the introduction of water meters. It is estimated that the expense of these appliances, extending their use into families, would be about $1,000,000, and the yearly cost for repairs some $100,000. All manufacturing establishments in Brooklyn are metered at the present time, and are paying at the rate of two cents per hundred gallons.
We notice that the Commissioner of City Works makes reference to the fact that numbers of the water meters now in use have cost with their connections from $50 to $70 each.  This sum, he justly believes, is unnecessarily high, and considers that suitable apparatus may be obtained at less figures.  The subject of introducing water meters in New York has also been discussed for some time, and will eventually be adopted. It would be well for inventors to turn their attention to this matter, as there will be a large market opened for cheap and efficient forms of water meters one of these days.

1873 Catalogue and price list of the Union Water Meter Company, by Union Water Meter Co.

1874 Justice and economy in public water supplies by using the gem meter : manufactured and sold by the National Meter Co., 95 John Street, New York

1874 Subject-matter Index of Patents for Inventions Issued by the United States Patent Office from 1790 to 1873, Inclusive, Volume 3
Pages 1671-1673:  Water-meters

1876 The Worthington Steam Pumping Engine: History of Its Invention and Development, by Henry R. Worthington
Pages 208-211: The Worthington Water Meter

1877 Alpena Argus, August 29, 1877, Page 2.
Meters in Liverpool, England reduce consumption from 33.58 gallons per capita to 14.26.

1877 Annual Report of the Trustees of the City Water Works for the year ending December 31, 1877, Cincinnati, Ohio

Gem ½-inch $20.00
Worthington ⅝-inch 24.85
Worthington 1-inch 44.00
Worthington 1½-inch 57.50
Worthington 2-inch 70.50
Worthington 3-inch 131.00
Worthington 4-inch 383.23

1879 New-York Tribune, August 12, 1879, Page 4
The Commissioners of Public Works has found it necessary, in view of the growing demand upon the water supply, to require all persons using water for business purposes to use a metre by which the amount they must pay the city can be gauged.  This, it is believed, will be useful, not so much in gaining a revenue for the city as in checking waste.  It is noted as one incident in the increased drain on the supply, that the elevated roads use half a million gallons of water a day.

1879 "Water Meters," by Phineas Ball, from Engineering News 6:334-336 (October 18, 1879) | continued 348-349 |

1879 "Union Water Meter Company," from Engineering News 6:349-350 (October 25, 1879)

1879 "Water Meters," by Louis Nash, from Engineering News 6:361-363 (November 8, 1879)

1879 "Water Supply and Water Meters," by Samuel J. Burr, from Engineering News 6:370-372 (November 15, 1879)  Discussion of "Gem Meter" made by National Meter Company.

1879 "The Barton & West Water Meter," from Engineering News 6:378-379 (November 22, 1879).  Manufactured by J.B. West, of Rochester, New York.

1879 "Water Meters," by Louis H. Nash, from Engineering News 6:385-387 (November 29, 1879)

1880 Engineering News 7:134 (April 10, 1880)
Jacksonville, Fla., has just become provided with a public water supply, and its Board of Water Commissioners, profiting by the costly and vexatious experience of other cities in the matter of water waste, and believing the early prevention of the evil to be far better than its late cure, has decided upon a general introduction of water meters. Having duly compared and considered the merits and records of the various patterns now in the market, the Board finally adopted the "Crown Meter," manufactured by the National Meter Company, to whom they have just given an order for 50 of the meters, with which to initiate the system.
It is worthy of special mention that the above is the first instance on record in which a city has made compulsory the attachment of a water meter to every tap. In the present instance the "Crown Meter" is to be used exclusively. The National Meter Company has lately been kept very busy filling orders for large meters, both of the "Gem" and the "Crown" patterns. Of the former pattern the company has meters in use reaching to and and including the 10-in. size.

1880 Union Water-Meter Co. v. William E. Desper 101 US 332, April 26, 1880, United States Supreme Court | also here |

1880 “American Industries. No. 55. The Manufacture of Pumping Engines and Water Meters,” Scientific American 43:149 (September 4, 1880)
A large force of workmen are also engaged in construction of Worthington water meters.  These machines, of which there are over 20,000 in daily use, have been adopted by all the principal water works in the United States and Canada.

1881 An Act to authorize the city of Boston to attach meters to buildings which it supplies with water.  April 15, 1881.

1881 The City Record, June 29, 1881
Page 1116:  Prices for Worthington water meters, June 28, 1881.  New York City received a 30% discount from the market or schedule price.

Market or Schedule Price
N.Y.C. Price (-30%)
⅝ inch $27.00 $16.10
One inch 48.00 31.50
1½ inch 63.50 42.00
2 inch 79.00 52.50
3 inch 155.00 105.00
4 inch 475.00 297.50

1881 "The Use of Water Meters," The New York Times, June 30, 1881, Page 8. | also here |

1881 “How Croton Water is Wasted.” Engineering News 8:450-451 (November 5, 1881)
How Croton Water is Wasted. “The inspectors of the Department of Public Works are busy searching for houses where water is wasted. Their method is to have a man enter a sewer in the night-time through a man-hole and apply a gauge to the water flowing into the sewers from houses. In cases where the flow is great an inspector is sent to the house the next day to examine the plumbing. When a serious leak is found the water is cut off summarily. In this way a number of houses have been deprived of water within the last few days. The police have been notified to be especially vigilant to prevent the waste or water, and the result of the order has been that several houses have been reported. In one case yesterday the water was cut off from a row of three houses on a police report. The water will not be let on again until the owners or occupants take measures to prevent waste. The officials of the Department of Public Works find the most fault with apartment houses. One of them visited by inspectors had a tank on the top floor containing 3,300 gallons of water. This was filled and emptied twice a day, making the water supply 6,600 gallons a day. Ten families live in the house, so that 660 gallons are used by each family, which is considered an excessive amount. This does not include hot water, which is supplied from boilers in the basement. The officials have no power to limit the supply unless a waste of water can be shown. Some trouble is experienced by the inspectors in gaining admittance to houses in the daytime, as servants object to letting them in while their employers are out.”

1881 "A New Water Meter," from Engineering News 8:508-509  (December 17, 1881) Howe water meter, patented by C.H. Bacon of Boston

1881 A Pure Water and Its Preservation: Presented by Continental Water Meter Company, Boston, Mass

[1881] United States Water Meter Co.

1881 "Boston" Water-Meter : [catalogue]

1882 "Experiments Made with the Deacon Waste-Water Meter System," by Dexter Brackett, Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies 1(7):253-266 (May, 1882}

1882 "The Waste of Water," Engineering News 9:187-188 (June 10, 1882)  Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Water, city of Boston.

1882 "Concerning Water Meters," Engineering News 9:190 (June 10, 1882)

1882 "The Wastage of Water," by Thomas J. Bell, Scientific Proceedings of the Ohio Mechanics' Institute 2(2):51-66 (June, 1883)

1883 "A New Meter (ite)," Engineering News 10:402-403 (August 25, 1883)

1883 "The Tremont Meter," Engineering News 10:424 (September 8, 1883)  Certificate of Organization of Tremont Meter Company.

1883 "The Tremont Meter," Engineering News 10:435 (September 15, 1883) Report of the Boston Water Board.

1883 "The 'Tremont' Meter," Engineering News 10:451-452 (September 22, 1883)

1883 John Baird, Respondent, vs. The Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New York, Appellant, October 16, 1883, New York Supreme Court, General Term, First Department | Records and Briefs |

1883 "The Great Water-Meter Job," Engineering News 10:532 (November 3, 1883)

1883 "Boston Water Meters Once More," Engineering News 10:604 (December 13, 1883)

1883 Water Rates and Water Statistics of 250 Cities and Towns, Together with Facts about Water Meters, compiled by the National Meter Company

1884 John Baird, Appellant, vs. The Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New York, Respondent, 96 N.Y. 567, October 7, 1884, Court of Appeals of the State of New York | Records and Briefs |

1884 Union Water Meter Company: 31 and 33 Hermon Street, Worcester, Mass

1885 Water Meters: Comparative Tests of Accuracy, Delivery, Etc. Distinctive Features of the Worthington, Kennedy, Siemens and Hesse Meters, by Ross E. Browne

1887 Statistics, tables and water rates of cities and towns, together with facts about water meters, by National Meter Company | Tables showing water rates for 59 cities in 1884 and 1885 |

1887 The Worthington Steam Pumping Engine: History of Its Invention and Development. Consideration of Its Duty Performances. Its Application to Reservoir, Standpipe and Direct Pressure Systems of Water Supply. Description of Worthington Water Meters, Etc, by Henry R. Worthington
Pages 147-150: The Worthington "Improved Pattern" Water Meter

1888 "The Method and Apparatus Used in the Recent Test of Water Meters at Boston," by L. Frederick Rice, read April 18, 1888, Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies 7(8):285-296 (August 1888)

1888 "Notes on the Water Meter System of Providence, R.I. - From 1872 to 1887 inclusive," by Edmund B. Weston, read April 18, 1888, Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies 7(8):297-305 (August 1888)

1888 Report of Water Meter Testing Commission, by L. Frederick Rice for Boston Water Board.  Tests of 35 water meters.

1888 New England Water Meter Co. : manufacturers of the "Standard" water meter

1888 General Catalogue of Worthington Pumping Engines, Steam Pumps & Hydraulic Machinery, November 15, 1888
Pages 66-67:  Worthington "Improved Pattern" Water Meter

1889 First Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the Citizens' Association of Boston.  Presented February 25, 1889.
Pages 4-9:  Tremont Meter Company

1891 "The Last of a Tweed Job. Probable Sale as Old Junk of 'Navarro Water Meters'." New York Times, April 5, 1891, Page 10.
They cost the city over a million dollars, but were absolutely worthless.

1891 "Memoir on water meters," by John Thompson, from Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers 25:40-65 (July 1891) | Discussion on Paper No. 488 - " A Memoir on Water Meters," by G. Leverich 25:563-572 (November, 1891) |
Page 43:  The total number of water meters in public use in the United States, is but 124,798.  But from a careful, conservative estimate, and considering the claims of the several meter manufacturers, it is probably safe to say that at least 175,000 water meters have actually been made and sold in this country.

1891 Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3
Page xix-xxviii:  Consumption of Water and Use of Meters in the Fifty Largest Cities of the United States | pdf |

1892 "Consumption of Water and Use of Meters," from Engineering News 27:61-64 (January 16, 1892)  Largely reprinted from Manual of American Water Works 3:xiv

1893 National Meter Co. v Yonkers, 149 US 48, April 17, 1893, United States Supreme Court

1893 The Metropolitan water meter.  Manufactured by the Metropolitan Meter Co., 22 Norfolk Avenue, Boston, Mass., August, 1893.  Includes information on many meters.

1893 Thomson Meter Co. : water meter manufacturers under the Lambert patents.

1893 The Water Meter: Its Difficulties, Types and Applications: A Manual of Reference and Fact in Connection with the Supply of Water by Meter, by Walter G. Kent

1894 The Worthington Water Meter: In Its Application to the Measurement of Water for Domestic and Manufacturing Purposes : Hot Water Meters, Oil Meters, Naphtha Meters, Etc., Etc

1895 Measuring Water, by Clemens Herschel

1895 Descriptive circular and price list of the Westinghouse water meter : and water meter appliances manufactured by Fuel Gas and Manufacturing Co.

Size Capacity
Water Works and Water Departments Net Price
½ in or ⅝ in 2 cu. ft. or 15 gpm $16.00 $12.00
¾ in 4 cu. ft. or 30 gpm 24.00 18.00
1 in 8 cu. ft. or 60 gpm 33.34 25.00
1½ in 12 cu. ft. or 90 gpm 53.34 40.00
2 in 20 cu. ft. or 150 gpm 80.00 60.00

1898 "Popular Errors about Water-Meters," by John C. Trautwine, Jr., Read October 1, 1898, Proceedings of the Engineering Club of Philadelphia 15(4):251-258 (November, 1898)

1898 Trident water meter, by Neptune Meter Company, New York

1899 "The Accuracy and Durability of Water Meters," with discussion and correspondence, by John W. Hill, Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers 41:326-409 (June, 1899)

1899 The Venturi Water Meter, by Clemens Herschel, Cassier's Magazine 15(5):411-421 (March, 1899) | also here |

1900 "Water Works Management - Professional and Councilmanic," by John C. Trautwine, Jr., from Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Water Works Association 20:  (May, 1900)

1900 "Water Works Management - Professional and Councilmanic," by John C. Trautwine, Jr., from Fire and Water 27:202-205 (June 9, 1900) Reprint from the above article with graphs included.

1901 "The Water Meter as a Sanitary Agent," by M. N. Baker, Municipal Journal and Engineer 11(5):199-200 (November, 1901)

1903 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 21(3):478 (May, 1903)
Page 478: New York City. - Finances. Again, the water commissioners recently requested that water meters be supplied, and although the cost was comparatively small, and the increased revenue accruing to the city would have been disproportionately large, the board refused to grant it on the ground that it would increase the debt, and contribute to the already too great sinking fund.

1903 Keystone Water Meter, by Pittsburgh Meter Company

1904 Ordinances of the City of Philadelphia
Page 170:  An Ordinance to prohibit the installation of water meters in any premises in the City of Philadelphia, and repealing so much of the ordinances approved July 9, 1897, and July 27, 1901, as authorize and direct such installation of said meters. June 27, 1904.

1906 "The National Meter Company Celebrates," Fire and Water Engineering 39(18):230-231 (May 5, 1906) | Also here |

1906 Journal of the Common Council of the City of Philadelphia for the Year 1906, Volume 2
Pages 650-652:  Resolution Relative to the Installation of Water Meters, March 15, 1906.  Rejected installation of 400,000 water meters at $16.00 each.

1906 Waste of water in New York and its reduction by meters and inspection.  A report by James H. Fuertes, C.E., to the Committee on Water-Supply of the Merchants' Association of New York; also A Digest of Laws Governing the Use of Water-Meters in New York, by Alfred L. Marilley; and A Summary of Present Conditions Relating to the Water-Supply of New York, by J. Hampden Dougherty (June, 1906)
Pages 127-219: Waste Reduction in American Cities
Asbury Park, New Jersey; Atlanta, Georgia; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Fall River, Mass.; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Hartford, Connecticut; Lawrence, Massachusetts; Lowell, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Newark, N.J.; Providence, Rhode Island; Richmond, Virginia; St. Louis, Missouri; Springfield, Massachusetts; Syracuse, N.Y.; Taunton, Mass.; Wellesley, Massachusetts; West Orange, New Jersey; Yonkers, New York; Chicago, Illinois.

1907 The Venturi water meter: and the first twenty years of its existence, by Clemens Herschel

1909 "Decide Water Meters Are Useless," Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1909, Page 20.
The council committee on water recommended for passage of an ordinance wiping out about 3,000 water meters now in use.

1909 "To Throw Out the Water Meters," The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 21, 1909, Page 8
In Chicago the Council Committee on Water has just recommended for passage by unanimity an ordinance providing for the abolition of the three thousand water meters which the city now has in use.

1910 "The Progress of Meterage," Fire and Water Engineering 47:245 (April 20, 1910)

1912 "How Meters Promote Equality and Economy in the Distribution of Water," by W.J. Chellew, from American City 6:665-667 (April, 1912)

1912 Ordinances of the City of Philadelphia
Page 211:  An ordinance to repeal an ordinance approved June 17, 1904, prohibiting the installation of water meters.  July 13, 1912.

1912 "The Effects of Meters on Water Consumption," from American City 7:45 (July, 1912)

1913 "Women scent millions of grant in water meters for homes," The Day Book (Chicago, Illinois), October 10, 1913, Page 1.
Say 300,000 homes will be soaked for $30,000,000 if Water Meter Deal goes through - Chicago Women will fight a big steal.

1914 "The Late John C. Kelley and the American Water Meter Industry," Engineering News 71(13):674-675 (March 26, 1914)

1914 "Elements to be Considered in Fixing Water Rates," by George W. Fuller, from Annals of the American Academy 53:251-261 (May, 1914)

1914 "A Symposium on Water Meters," from American City 11:46-48 (July, 1914)

1914 "The Experience of a Small City with Water Meters and Water Rates," by C.J. Renner, from The American City 11:474-478 (December, 1914)  St. Albans, Vermont

1915 "Privately-Owned versus Publicly-Owned Water Meters," from American City 13:53-54 (July, 1915)

1915 General Statistics of Cities, Bureau of the Census
Pages 159-186:  Water Rates in 155 cities

1916 "Waterworks Statistics for 1915," Municipal Journal 40(22):750-762 (June 1, 1916)  Meters and Meter Rates

1917 Meter Rates for Water Works, by Allen Hazen

1914 "The Cost of Leaks; Does it Pay to Stop Them?" by Edward S. Cole, from Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Water Works Association 32:245-256 (July, 1914) | also here (includes chart of per capita water consumption and meter adoption in 163 cities.) |

1914 "The Cost of Leaks in Water-Works Systems" by Edward S. Cole, from Engineering News 68:371-374 (August 22, 1912).  Includes per capita water consumption and meter adoption in 163 cities.

1919 "Suitable types of water meters for use in railway water service," by C.R. Knowles, Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the American Railway Engineering Association 20:303-314
History of water meters

1919 "Should Meters Be Owned and Controlled by the Municipality," by Thomas H. Hooper, from The American City 20:183 (February, 1919)

1919 "Why Meter," American City 20:522-523 (July, 1919).  With cartoon.

1920 "Water-Supply Statistics of Metered Cities," from American City 23(6):613-20 (December, 1920) and 24(1):41-49 (January, 1921)

1934 Supplementary code of fair competition for the water meter manufacturing industry (a division of the machinery and allied products industry) as approved on May 16, 1934, by National Recovery Administration

1936 Sixty-First Annual Report of the Department of Public Works for the year engine December 31, 1936.
Statistics 1854 to 1936.  Population, pumping, capacity, meters, revenue. | Meters in use

1948 William C. Whitney, Modern Warwick, by Mark David Hirsch
Page 127:  Navarro water meter case

1956 "Universal Metering and Meter Repair at Philadelphia," by Gerald E. Arnold, Journal of the American Water Works Association 48(10):1209-1216 (October 1956)
Prior to 1918 there were few water meters in Philadelphia.

1959  "Chapter  I—Early History of Water Measurement and the Development of Meters ," Journal of the American Water Works Association 51(6):791-799 (June, 1959)

1959  "Chapter 2—Meter Manufacture in the United States," Journal of the American Water Works Association 51(6):800-805 (June, 1959)

1976 "Community Water Systems" from History of public works in the United States, 1776-1976 Chapter 8, 217-246, edited by Ellis L. Armstrong, Michael C. Robinson, and Suellen M. Hoy
Page 234:  The first United States water meter patent was issued in 1850, and by the mid 1870s meters had been developed with legible dials that facilitated meter reading.

1992?  Vanguard Meter Services contract for New York City water meters

1992 Semiannual Report, United States Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General
Page 65:  Kentucky Based Company and Officers Indicted in New York City Wage Fraud Scheme.
A November 4, 1991 indictment of Vanguard Meter Services, Inc., and its principal officers was unsealed on November 7, 1991 in New York. The Kentucky-based company, which dominated the New York City Universal Water Metering Program, and the individuals concerned were charged in the New York County indictment with conspiracy, grand larceny, perjury, offering a false instrument for filing, and violation of state labor laws.
The $290 million water meter program, instituted as a water conservation measure by the City of New York, calls for the installation of 630,000 meters over a 10-year period. Four officers including the founder and former CEO, the president, the New York project manager, and a field manager were charged in the 206count indictment.
The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to steal water meter installation contracts from the City of New York by falsely agreeing to pay prevailing wages, when, in fact, they had no intentions on doing so. Vanguard had established a policy of paying employees a maximum of 1 hour's wage for the installation of a water meter, irrespective of the length of time actually required. This policy enabled the company to submit low bids to the City of New York and, thereby, to win the contracts. The indictment also alleged that Vanguard defrauded its employees and the City of New York by paying employees less than required under the city contracts, yet billing the city for the full amount. The scheme allowed Vanguard to receive in excess of $5 million to which it was not entitled. Additionally, the indictment charged that the defendants falsely certified that prevailing wages were paid and that the "preplumbing" work was performed under the supervision of a licensed plumber.
This continuing investigation is being conducted jointly by the OIG with the U.S. Department of Labor's Pension Welfare Benefits Administration, the New York County District Attorney, and the New York City Department of Investigation. State of New York against Vanguard Meter Services Inc., Robert Bates, E. Douglas Kenna, Kenneth Correll, William B. Clark (Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York).

2000 The Sanitary City:  Urban Infrastructure in America from Colonial Times to the Present, by Martin V. Melosi
Page 124:  Before the mid-1870s, meters did not have legible dials, and they functioned poorly in turbid water or in water with sediment.

2006 New York City Universal Water Metering Program Audit

2011 "108 Water Meters," by Deborah Warner, National Museum of American History, March 20, 2011
The National Museum of American history boasts what may be the world’s largest and finest collection of historic water meters—108 in all, each one made in the United States.

Number and Designation of United States Patents, Issued for Inventions of Water Meters,
from 1837 to 1890, inclusive.

From "Memoir on water meters," by John Thompson,
from Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers 25:41 (July 1891)

American Water Meter Patents
Patent Number
Reissue Number Reissue Date
1 U.S. Patent 425 Oct 12, 1837 James Bogardus New York NY Improvement in the machine for measuring fluids.

2 U.S. Patent 5,970
Dec. 9, 1848 John H. Hecker Hinkleton PA Apparatus for drawing and measuring liquids

3 U.S. Patent 7,075
Feb. 5, 1850 William Sewell, Jr. Williamsburg NY Improvement in water-meters

4 U.S. Patent 7,869 Jan. 1, 1851 John Ericsson New York NY Water meter

U.S. Patent 8,579 Dec. 9, 1851 John Ericsson New York NY Water meter

U.S. Patent 8,686 Jan. 27, 1852 Samuel Huse Boston MA Improvement in water-meters

U.S. Patent 8,741 Feb. 17, 1852 William H. Lindsay New York NY Meter for steam boilers

U.S. Patent 9,746 May 24, 1853 John Hartin New York NY Improvement in water-meters

U.S. Patent 11,702 Sep. 19, 1854 Marvin Smith New Haven CT Water-Meter

U.S. Patent 11,806 Oct. 17, 1854 Joseph D. Elliott Leicester MA

U.S. Patent 11,881 Oct. 31, 1854 Samuel R Wilmot New Haven CT

U.S. Patent 12,232 Jan. 16, 1855 John S. Barden New Haven CT Water-Meter

U.S. Patent 13,198 Jul. 3, 1855 James Curtis and Samuel Hoard Chicago IL Water-Meter

U.S. Patent 13,320 Jul. 24, 1855 Henry R. Worthington Brooklyn NY Water-Meter; Extended January 12, 1869

U.S. Patent 13,792 Nov. 13, 1855 Samuel Krauser and Christian Ritter Reading PA Water-Meter

U.S. Patent 17,654 Jun. 23, 1857 Peter H. Niles Boston MA Water-Meter

U.S. Patent 23,131 Mar. 1, 1859 Allexey W. Von Schmidt San Francisco CA Improved water meter

U.S. Patent 34,857 Apr. 1, 1862 George F. Blake Medford MA Improvement in water-meters

U.S. Patent 36,201 Aug. 8, 1862 Napoleon Aubin Canada
Improvement in water-meters

U.S. Patent 40,485 Feb. 3, 1863 Frank G. Johnson Brooklyn NY Improvement in water-meters

U.S. Patent 73,430 Jan. 21, 1868 Phinehas Ball Worcester MA Improvement in water-meters

92,883 Henry F. Read, Brooklyn July 13, 1869

111,060 Frederick G. Hesse, Oakland Cal
111,134 Charles Moore, New York, Assignor to Jose F. De Navarro
111,143 Webster Park, Norwich, Conn
111,624 Thomas B. Fogarty, Brooklyn
111,838 Robert C. Gray and William B. Brittingham, Lafayette, Indiana
113,162 Thomas C. Hargrave, Boston
113,366 Isaac P. Tice, New York
113,597 William Van Anden, Poughkeepsie
114,415 Joseph W. Cremin, New York, Assignor of one-half his right to George H. Fairchild, Bridgeport, Conn
114,419 Jose F. Navarro, New York
114,420 Jose F. Navarro, New York and Henry C. Sergeant, Newark, New Jersey, assignors to Jose F. Navarro
114,694 John P. Lindsay, New York
115,940 Augustus M. de Souchet, Evansville, Ind
116,362 Joel C. Slaughter, New York
117,366 William Ball, New Vienna, Ohio
119,004 Henry M. Bartlett, South Dedham, Mass
120,853 Camille Campeaux, New York
125,793 Jose F. De Navarro and Henry C. Sergeant, assignors of Jose F. De Navarro April 16, 1872 Improvement in Water-Meters, New York

© 2018 Morris A. Pierce