Documentary History of American Water-works

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Pacific States
California Petaluma

Petaluma, California

Petaluma was incorporated as a city in 1858.

The first water system was built by William Henry in 1857, using gravity to distribute water.  This system was apparently sold to the Petaluma Mountain Water Company around 1860 and then to the Sonoma County Water Company in 1871, which rebuilt and improved the works.

The Petaluma Power and Water Company bought the system in 1900 and the California Water Services Company acquired the water system in 1928.

The City of Petaluma bought the water system in 1959 for $2,425,000.

Water is provided by the City of Petaluma.

1857 "Petaluma Water Works," Sonoma County Journal, May 1, 1857, Page 2.

1880 History of Sonoma County: Including Its Geology, Topography, Mountains, Valleys and Streams; with a Full and Particular Record of the Spanish Grants; Its Early History and Settlement
Page 267:  In May, 1857, water was for the first time introduced into Petaluma by William Henley. The spring from which it was procured was distant from Main street about one hundred and fifty rods, and, at the time, ran seven to eight hundred gallons per hour, which could be increased if necessary.
Pages 342-343:  Water Companies—The first water introduced into the city of Petaluma in pipes, for public purposes, is said to have been effected by Dr. J. Walker, who, in turn, disposed of his interest in the undertaking in the year 1860; for, on July 16th of that year, we find in the records of the Board of Trustees that the privilege was granted to John Cavanagh, George L. Bradley, and John Robbins, to convey fresh water from their springs, in pipes, along the several streets in the city, and to supply the same to such citizens as may desire to purchase it. This body was known as the Petaluma Mountain Water Company. They subsequently sold out to Smith D. Towne and James Armstrong, and on March 9, 1868, received from the municipality the exclusive right to introduce water into the city, the same to continue in force for twenty-five years. On the 2d of April, Towne and Armstrong, being associated with the Hon. B. B. Munday, organized the Petaluma Water Company; on the 16th it was incorporated, but, on June 22, the ordinance granting the privilege was repealed, and, after lengthened and insurmountable difficulty, sold out to the
Sonoma County Water Company.—This association was incorporated on December 18, 1871, by M. J. Miller, C. Temple, and F. E. McNear. The company owns the right to the waters of the Adobe and Copeland, as also certain claims on that of the Lynch creeks, which each take their rise in the Sonoma range of hills, and flow through Vallejo township. At the time of writing the water in use in the city is drawn principally from the first named stream, at a point distant from Petaluma of about five miles ; it is in contemplation to bring the liquid from Copeland creek, at about eight miles distant. The water now in use is conveyed from the Adobe creek, through seven-inch wrought iron mains, and delivered into a reservoir of the capacity of five hundred thousand gallons, which is situated on the eminence west of Cypress Hill Cemetery, and thence distributed to customers, from an elevation of one hundred and seventy-five feet above the town, the length of the mains used being, in all, in the vicinity of eight miles. Within the corporate limits there are thirteen hydrants, the property of the city, while the company, in mains, both large and small, own about twenty miles of pipes. The average daily consumption is near two hundred and twenty-five thousand gallons, distributed among about five hundred and fifty consumers, who put the water to household, irrigation, and other uses, while from the same source are supplied the locomotives, steamer sand other craft which visit the city. The fluid is of excellent quality, and the price charged is one-half that in San Francisco, for domestic purposes; for irrigation it is done for one-eighth of that demanded in that city. The company is now composed as follows: President, Francis Smith; Vice-President, William Hill; Secretary and Superintendent, F. W. Lougee, with the following gentlemen comprising the Board of Directors: Francis Smith and William Hill, of Petaluma, and C. Adolphe Low, of San Francisco. Water rights, construction account, and legal expenses have swelled the cost of the works to about one hundred and fifteen thousand dollars, and but one dividend, of one thousand dollars, has been paid, the collections made for water, etc., being used on the construction account. This undertaking has been of great benefit to property-holders in Petaluma, on account of the facility which exists for the extinguishing of fires, it being calculated that, in this regard alone, no less a sum than one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars has been saved to them. The rates of insurance have been materially decreased since the establishment of the hydrants, all tending to the benefit of the property holder.

1882 Petaluma, Engineering News, 9:106-107  (April 1, 1882)

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

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

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

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

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

1959 "Petaluma Water Vote Set," The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California), Mar 5, 1959, Page 1.

1959 "History and Description of Petalma's Water System," The Petaluma Argus-Courier, April 8, 1959, Page 18.

1959 "Heavy Voting OK's City's Water Move," The Petaluma Argus-Courier, April 29, 1959, Page 1. | Part 2 on Page 3 |

1959 "Petaluma Water Deal Approved," The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California), July 8, 1959, Page 12.

© 2018 Morris A. Pierce