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Louisiana New Orleans

Benjamin Latrobe Water Works Ordinance, April 27, 1811

City Council of New Orleans
An Ordinance to grant to Benjamin Henry Latrobe and his associates, the exclusive privilege to supply the city of New-Orleans and its suburbs with water, by means of one or more steam engines.

The City Council ordains as follows:
Art. 1. Benjamin Henry Latrobe and his associates, his heirs or assigns, shall enjoy the exclusive privilege of supply the city of New-Orleans and its suburbs with the water of the Mississippi, by means of one or more steam engines, and of pipes laid in the streets of the said city and suburbs, and the said B. H. Latrobe and his associates, his heirs or assigns, shall alone have a right to dispose of this water, by means of other pipes and cocks adapted to the pipes above mentioned, and to distribute it into the houses, lots or premises of those inhabitants of the said city and suburbs who may require it of them, and who shall pay them in return such an annual rent as may be stipulated between the two parties.
Art. 2. The said B. H. Latrobe and his associates are bound to complete the works which are the object of their undertaking, and to commence the said supply of water at latest, by the first of May, eighteen hundred and thirteen, except in case of unavoidable accidents properly verified; the length of the privilege granted by the present ordinance shall be fifteen years, to commence at the date just mentioned; and at the expiration of the said fifteen years, it shall be at the option of the corporation either to purchase the works and materials useful to the said enterprise, or to continue the said privilege for a new term, which shall be of five years; at the end of which time all the steam engines, buildings, pipes and other objects belonging to the said undertaking, of whatever nature they may be, shall become the property of the corporation of New-Orleans, without the said corporation being in the last instance bound to make any purchase or disbursements whatever, and it is well understood that the said steam engines, buildings, pipes and other projects, shall be delivered to the corporation by the said undertakers or their assigns, in the best condition possible.
Art. 3. The said B. H. Latrobe and his associates shall be permitted to dig trenches in that part of the streets of the city and suburbs that they shall judge proper, for the purpose of placing their pipes of conduit; the said trenches to be dug gradually, that is to say, only in four streets perpendicular to the river, at a time, viz. Two in the north and two in the south part of N. Orleans, the said trenches to be dug moreover under the following conditions; 1st That the work at the trenches shall not be stopped, except in the case of violent rains; 2d. That the said undertakers shall prevent any danger to the public, by establishing trenches of a sufficient height and strength at each end of the streets or portions of streets in which the said trenches are dug, and by placing there one or more lights during the night; 3d. That they did trenches in the spaces occupied by the banquets only in the length of a square or thereabouts at a time, and only at the moment when their pipes are ready to be said; 4th. That the depth of said trenches shall be at least two feet below the surface of the banquets; 5th. That as soon as the pipes are laid, or necessary repairs completed, they shall restore the streets and banquets to the state in which they were before the said trenches were dug.
Art. 4. The said undertakers are bound, as soon as they have placed their pipes to furnish the city, property so called, to introduce in the same manner the water at least into that part of the suburb St. Mary, comprehending between Broadway and Girod-street on one hand, and between Levee-street and Camp-street on the other hand, and into that part of the suburb Marigny between the Esplanade and the Marigny canal on the one hand, and between Levee street and Cassa Calvo street on the other.
Art. 5. Whenever it shall become necessary to suspend the supply of water, in any quarter or street, either to place new pipes or to repair the old ones, the undertakers shall be obliged to give public notice at least three days in advance in one or more newspapers, published in this city; but no such notice shall be required whenever it shall be necessary to repair without delay one or more pipes which may have burst or leak, provided that in this case the said suspension of the supply shall not last for more than forty eight hours at a time.
Art. 6. The said B. H. Latrobe and his associates are allowed to place their steam engines and all the buildings necessary to the undertaking, upon a space of one hundred and twenty five feet by one hundred and fifty feet, being a part of that vacant ground which is now for the public use, and is situate on the one hand between Bienville and Custom House streets, and on the other between Levee street and the high road, so far as the corporation is competent to grant such permission; but it is formally declared that should the United States or other grantee claim this property, and in consequence of this claim the undertakers be disturbed in their works, the corporation does in no wise guarantee to them the possession of this space of ground, nor promise in any way to make good the losses that may be sustained by the said undertakers, in consequence of the said disturbance or the dispossession which may be pronounced against them, either by order of the general government, or of its agents, or of any competent tribunal; but should the thing happen, the corporation engages itself not to consider the time during which the interruption of their works may last, as forming part of the term of their privilege; but to grant to them ultimately a length of time equal to that lost by reason of the said interruption; and if the said undertakers are not disturbed of this ground during the term of their privilege, the said ground shall continue to be considered as a part of the public domain, without the said undertakers being takers, at any time, in consequence of said possession, to claim the same property under the title of proprietors, to which they hereby formally renounce.
The buildings of the said establishment can be built of not other than incombustible materials, agreeably to the ordinance of the corporation to that effect.
Art. 7. Should the said undertakers judge proper to apply to the general government to ratify the permission mentioned in the preceding article, and should they obtain this ratification, or even the concession of the said space of ground, they formally engage by these presents, as well for themselves as for their heirs & assigns, never to raise under any pretext or title whatever, any pretensions to the property of the said ground, and they engage at the expiration of the privilege granted to them by the present ordinance, gratuitously to put the said space of ground at the entire disposition of the corporation, without any kind of claim or pretentions on their parts.
Art. 8. The said undertakers may construct a tunnel of brick, iron, or such other materials as they may think proper, communicating from the river to the steam engine, placed upon the space of ground just mentioned, provided they restore the street and levee to the state in which they were before the construction of the said tunnel, and it shall also be permitted to them to protect that end of the tunnel which will be in the river, by a pier projecting into the bed of the said river as far as the low water mark; provided that the said pier be constructed in such a manner as to serve as a wharf for the loading and unloading of vessels, and in no instance can be an impediment thereto; and provided also, that the said undertakers cannot exact or receive any wharfage under any pretence whatever; nevertheless the corporation does not protect the said undertakers from the effect of any measure that may be taken by the general government or its agents, on account of the construction of the said tunnel, of the said pier, or of any other works that the said undertakers may execute upon the Mississippi.
Art. 9. The said B. H. Latrobe and his associates shall establish, at their expense, in every other square, and at the place fixed by the corporation, except in Levee-street, for which there is an article hereafter, Hydrants, the keys of which shall be deposited with the mayor, and which shall be used only in cases of fire, and to water the streets and gutters; the said undertakers furnishing gratuitously as much water as may be necessary for these purposes.  But the only time which the said Hydrants may be used for washing the gutters shall be from day break till sun rise, and for sprinkling the streets one hour before sunset from the 1st of May till the 1st of November in each year.
Art. 10. And the said undertakers shall also place at their own expense, ten Hydrants in Levee street in front of the city and suburbs St. Mary and Marigny, and in such other parts of the said streets as may be fixed on by the Corporation; and the said Hydrants shall be used for the same purpose as those mentioned in the proceeding article.
Art. 11. And the said undertakers shall be found to keep in order, and to repair the said Hydrants when necessary.
Art. 12.The said undertakers shall furnish moreover gratuitously, the quantity of water necessary for the wants of the Principal, Prisons, and Hospitals, provided that the said public buildings are within the limits of the city of New-Orleans or the suburbs St. Mary and Marigny, or in any part of the environs of the said city where the said undertakers may establish their pipes of conduit.
Art. 13.No person, who is supplied with water by the said undertakers, shall have the right to supply his neighbours or any other persons, under the penalty of paying for every offence of this nature a fine equal to double the annual rent paid by the said person to the said undertakers; a like penalty shall be incurred by the person who shall have received the said water.  and any person who shall be convicted of taking water from the Hydrants at any other hours that those at which they are open for the purposes above mentioned, or for any but public uses, shall pay a fine of five dollars, as also any scavenger or other person, employed by the Corporation to open the said Hydrants for watering the streets and washing the gutters, who shall have connived in the theft; one half of fines mentioned in this article, shall be for B. H. Latrobe and his associates and the other half for the Charity Hospital.
Art. 14. Any person who shall designedly or maliciously injure or cause to be injured in any manner whatever the said steam engines, pipes, cocks or any thing belonging thereto, shall pay to the said undertakers a five of from five to fifty dollars, one half for the undertakers and the other for the Charity Hospital, exclusive of any damages which may be granted to the said undertakers by any competent tribunal.
Art. 15.The said B. H. Latrobe and his associates shall be bound to make good all damages which may be occasioned either to individuals or to the public by the bursting of their principal pipes of conduit, or other accidents arising from the negligence of the undertakers or the deficiency of their works; and should the said B. H. Latrobe and his associates neglect at any time to fill up the trenches they are authorised to dig to lay their pipes, and to repair the streets roads, foot-way, or banquets in which the said trenches have been dug, by restoring them as much as possible to the state in which they were before the digging of the said trenches, the said undertakers shall be liable to pay such damages as may be pronounced against them by any competent tribunal.
Art. 16.Should the works which are the object of this Ordinance not be finished, or the said supply of water not begun, by the first of May eighteen hundred and thirteen at latest, unless in case of unforeseen accidents properly verified, the said Ordinance shall be null and void.
Art. 17. Should the works of the said B. H. Latrobe and his associates be finished in the time allowed, and should it be found and certified by arbitrators properly chosen for the purpose, that the said establishment is defective and that its object cannot be obtained by any of the means employed by the said undertakers, the present Ordinance shall in this case be null and void.
Art. 18. And the said B. H. Latrobe and his associates, his heirs or assigns, after the works above mentioned are pronounced to be finished, shall be bound to maintain and keep them in repair with great care, particularly the pipes and steam engines; and whenever the said works shall be in want of repair and the same undertakers shall no provide for the same within eight days, as also whenever on account of inundation, fire or other unforeseen and unavoidable accidents, it shall become necessary to erect new buildings, should the said undertakers neglect to do so, within the space of one year from the date on which this building shall become necessary, then as also in the two cases above mentioned, the said undertakers shall lose the privilege granted to them by the present Ordinance, and the Corporation shall become by right, proprietor of the said establishment and of the revenues produced by it.
Nevertheless, the undertakers shall have the liberty to alledge further accidents, or the impossibility of repairing the damage, on account of its importance, within the term fixed on above; and the Corporation may extend the term granted for the completion of the preceding intentions, should the Corporation judge it be just to do so.
Art. 19.The said Ordinance does not in any way affect any of the means hitherto employed by individuals for supplying with water the city and suburbs; the only intention of the said Ordinance being to secure to B. H. Latrobe and his associates, their heirs or assigns, the exclusive privilege for a certain number of years, of supplying water of the Mississippi to the said city and its suburbs the sole means of one of more steam engines of pipes laid in the streets.
Enacted in the sitting of the 27th April 1811.
(Signed) Charles Trudeau. Recorder
Approved, New Orleans, May 23d, 1811.
(Signed) James Mather, Mayor.
True Copy, Mce. Bourgeois, City Clerk.

English and French versions of the ordinance were printed in Le Courrier de la Louisiane on May 27, 1811.  

2015 Morris A. Pierce