Documentary History of American Water-works

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Pacific States
California West Sacramento

West Sacramento, California

Washington was a town in Yolo County that was settled in the 1840s and later renamed Broderick.  It is now part of the city of West Sacramento, which was incorporated in 1987.

The first water works were built 1862 by Messrs. Hunt & Co., which distributed water from their mill through 2,000 feet of pipe.  Nothing more has been found about this system.

The Washington waterworks supplied water to the town starting in 1870, and in 1885 a franchise was given to Eli Fourness and others to form a new water company.

The Washington Water and Light Company was incorporated in 1897 by local residents. 

By the end of World War II there were three other water companies operating in the area, which were acquired by the Washington firm.  This is turn was bought by the Citizens Utility Company of Connecticut in 1968.

Local citizens were unhappy with the company and formed the East Yolo Community Service District in 1976.  After a legal battle, the district bought the Washington Water and Light Company on June 8, 1983 for $5.9 million.

Upon its incorporation on January 1, 1987 the city of West Sacramento acquired all of the property of the East Yolo Community Service District.

Water is currently provided by the City of West Sacramento.

1862 Annual Report of the Surveyor-General of California, for the year 1862.
Page 145:  The water works of Messrs. Hunt & Co., attached to their mill in West Sacramento, has added much to that establishment. They have laid about two thousand feet of pipe, at a cost of three thousand dollars.

1897 "Washington Water Supply," Sacramento Daily Union, January 16, 1897, Page 4.
Our neighboring village will have a system at once.
The Matter Determined on at a Meeting Held Last Evening.
There is a good outlook for a system of water works in Washington, across the river, for the citizens have got down to work, and are determined to have proper fire protection.
Some time ago they obtained from the Board of Supervisors the appointment of three Fire Commissioners, Hugo Frommelt,  William Wilson and James Richardson, and this commission was ordered to go to work and obtain the necessary information as to the cost of the work required.  They called into consultation John H. Batcher, Jr., of this city, and he gave a careful look over the whole town and reported that the works could be built for $6,000, and that the money expended would be a good investment. His idea is to build at Rocky Point, just above the town, two tanks to hold 30,000 gallons each, which are to be elevated fifty feet above the levee.  From these tanks six-inch mains are to run along Second street to the town limits, and from this main pipe to construct four-inch pipes along the auxiliary streets running west.
At a meeting held last night at the schoolhouse, and which was well attended, these ideas were promulgated and received with much enthusiasm.  It was decided to go to work at once and raise the necessary stock on the terms that one-fourth should be paid when the works were completed, and the other three-fourths to be paid in monthly installments.  A committee of five, consisting of Hugo Frornmelt, A. Furness, Wm. Wilson, Henry Thiele and Robert Waring, was appointed to solicit subscriptions and to obtain customers for the water to be pumped. 
An effort will be made to obtain electric power from this city for pumping, but failing in that gasoline is to be employed. The meeting was very enthusiastic and the committee appeared to have no doubt but they could report on Sunday afternoon that all the stock had been taken.

1897 "Articles of Incorporation," Sacramento Daily Union, February 5, 1897, Page 3,
Washington Water and Light Company.  Principal place of business, Washington, Yolo County.  Capital stock, $6,000, with $5,800 subscribed, and H. Fommerlt, F.W. Steigler, E. Fourness, J. Shaw, W. Wilson, and W. Harrison of Washington and T. De Groth of Sacramento as directors.

1897 "Washington's Water Works, Sacramento Daily Union, September 7, 1897, Page 4.
Will soon be in shape to project the town from fire.  Contract awarded to Stanley & Co. of San Francisco.
The works will cost $5,700.  A tank having a capacity of 60,000 gallons and sixty-four feet above the ground will be erected.

1897 "Stole a March," Sacramento Daily Union, October 30, 1897, Page 4.
The Contractors For the Washington Waterworks Cut the Levee.
The contractors for the new water works in Washington stole a march last night on the objectors by tunneling through the levee after midnight and putting in the pipes to the river, and this morning the work was an accomplished fact.
Supervisor Snyder appeared on the scene this morning and threatened to have them arrested and taken to Woodland for doing the work without permission of the board, but they contended that the levee is a private one and that therefore they had a right to put in the pipes, and that they have tamped the earth solidly and filled in around the pipes with cement and granite, rendering the levee secure. It looks now as if Washington would have her water supply and fire department before a great while.

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

1976 An act relating to public utilities, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.  June 25, 1976.
SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares that a special statute is required to prohibit the expansion of the Washington Water and Light Company, a private water corporation operating in an unincorporated area of Yolo County, wherein an election has been called for June 8, 1976, to form a community services district to, among other things, provide water service. This act specifies the period when such expansion shall be prohibited.

1978 An act to amend Sections 1 and 3 of Chapter 261 of the Statutes of 1976, relating to public utilities, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately.  September 8, 1878.

1981 Washington Water and Light Company v. East Yolo Community Services District, June 15, 1981, Court of Appeal, Third District, California.

1987 West Sacramento: The Roots of a New City, by Shipley Walters
Page 19:  Water, for residential and commercial use, was a basic local need. The Washington Waterworks had supplied water to the town since 1870, but now citizens were demanding a better water supply. Local citizens, led by Eli Foumess, the son of the Boruck Postmaster, were granted a franchise on July 8, 1885, to form a new company to erect and maintain water works. They sold shares and raised $6,000 capital, and on January 29, 1897, the Washington Water and Light Company formally incorporated. It was to supply water, lighting and electricity to the Town of Washington for fifty years.
The water was desperately needed for fire protection in a town where most of the houses and businesses were made of wood.
Page 44:  Water. At the end of World War II there were four water companies serving the area: the Washington Water and Light Company, which supplied water to Broderick and Bryte; the West Sacramento Water Company, the Port Water Company and the Yolo County Waterworks District, which supplied the Linden Acres subdivision.
In 1954 controlling interest in the Washington Water and Light Company was sold to Arthur F. Turner and Eugene Williams, the principal developers of Westfield Village, and by the 1960s all four water companies were merged into the Washington Water and Light Company. in 1968 the company was purchased by the Citizens Utility Company of Connecticut for one million dollars, and the name was changed to Washington Water Company.
After two years of often frenzied community activity, the East Yolo People for Better Water; a group formed in 1975, petitioned for an election to form a Community Services District (CSD) wluch would eventually take over the water system. Local voters approved formation of the CSD on June 8, 1976. Three years later, on September 4, 1979, they passed a S17 5 million bond issue to buy the water company.  Law suits delayed the actual purchase until June 9, 1983, when the CSD paid the Washington Water Company $5.9 million and took over the ownership and management of the water system which served all of East Yolo.

Water tower of the Washington Water and Light Company, Broderick, CA

2018 Morris A. Pierce