Documentary History of American Water-works

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New England States Massachusetts Somerville

Somerville, Massachusetts

Somerville was first settled in 1630 and was incorporated as a town in 1842 and as a city in 1872.

Two early aqueduct companies in Cambridge were authorized to secure a water supply from what is now the city of Somerville and both apparently did so, but no evidence has been found that either supplied water to any customer within the future limits of Somerville.  The Cambridge Water Works was incorporated in 1852, began service in that city in 1857, and by 1858 was supplying water to the Bleachery Company in Somerville, which the City of Cambridge continued to do after they bought the Cambridge Water Works in 1864.

The City of Charlestown built water works that began service in 1864 taking water from Mystic Pond.  The supply pipeline ran through Medford and Somerville, and Charlestown was required to install fire hydrants along the pipeline route.  The City of Charlestown was authorized to provide a general supply of water to Somerville and Malden in 1866, but nothing was done until another law in 1868 gave Somerville the right to install and maintain its own distribution network.  A contract between the City of Charlestown and Town of Somerville was consummated on September 21, 1868, and pipe installation began immediately using cement-lined wrought-iron pipes. 

The City of Charlestown was annexed by the City of Boston in 1874 and the Mystic Water System was acquired by Boston, but maintained a separate board for some time.  Charlestown was connected to Boston's Cochituate system shortly thereafter, and Somerville make an attempt to buy the Mystic system, but did not do so.

The State of Massachusetts formed the Metropolitan Water District in 1895 whose purpose was to supply water to communities within ten miles of the Boston state house.

Water is provided by the City of Somerville, which purchases water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.


References
1857 "Cambridge Water Works," Cambridge Chronicle, July 25, 1857, Page 2.
This company have recently been extending their works.  They have made arrangements to supply the Bleachery Company in Somerville, with water to the amount of 300,000 gallons per day, if required.  For this purpose a pipe, connecting with the main pipe in North Avenue has been laid through Sacramento street to Somerville, the selectmen of Somerville having granted leave to the company to lay pipe to the Bleachery, from the Cambridge line.  This company will doubtless with a valuable customer.

1860 Reports of the Town of Somerville for the year 1859-60.
Page 20:  Hydrants, connecting with the Cambridge Water Works, are to be placed near the Union Glass Works, and in the neighborhood of the Franklin School-house, and these will furnish a security more than equal to that of reservoirs.  Should the city of Charleston, as is now contemplated, lay water-pipes through the eastern part of the town, the necessity of that kind of expense will cease altogether.

1862 Cambridge Water Works vs. Somerville Dyeing and Beaching Company & others, 4 Allen 239, 86 Mass. 239, January Term 1862, Supreme Court of Massachusetts

1866 An act to authorize the city of Charlestown to furnish the towns of Somerville and Malden with water.  May 3, 1866.

1868 "Report of the Somerville Mystic Water Committee," January 1, 1869, from Annual Report of the Town of Somerville for the year 1868.

1868 An act for supplying the town of Somerville with water.  May 14, 1868.

1868 Contract.  City of Charlestown with Town of Somerville, September 21, 1868.

1869 "Report of the Somerville Mystic Water Committee," January 1, 1870, from Annual Report of the Town of Somerville for the year 1869.

1870 An act in addition to an act for supplying the town of Somerville with water.  March 11, 1870.

1870 "Report of the Somerville Mystic Water Committee," January 2, 1871, from Annual Report of the Town of Somerville for the year 1870.

1871 "Report of the Somerville Mystic Water Committee," December 31, 1871, from Annual Report of the Town of Somerville for the year 1871.

1873 Annual Report of the Mystic Water Board of the City of Somerville, for the year 1873.

1882 Somerville, from Engineering News 9:189  (June 10, 1882)

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

1884 "Cambridge Water in Somerville," Cambridge Chronicle, December 27, 1884, Page 4.

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

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

1891 "Somerville's Water Supply," Boston Post, January 17, 1891, Page 2.
The City Council Recommended to Purchase the Mystic Water Works.

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

1896 Somerville's History, by Charles Darwin Elliot
Page 55:  Water Supply.  The laying of the Charlestown water-main from Walnut Hill reservoir through the town opened the way for a water-supply for Somerville which was authorized by legislative enactments in 1866 and in 1868, and negotiations with Charlestown entered into, which resulted in a contract with that city. This contract, though not entirely satisfactory in its terms, secured to Somerville its present supply. An experienced engineer, Mr. Roberdeau Buchanan, was engaged and a pipe system for the town planned, and before the close of the year some two miles or more of pipe were laid.
The Charlestown act of 1861 gave authority for supplying water to hydrants in Somerville, and meanwhile many were set. In 1866 the first steam fire-engine was purchased replacing the old "Somerville One," which, like its predecessor, " Mystic Six," was stored for a while and then sold.

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

1897 Annual Report of the Somerville Mystic Water Board of the City of Somerville, for the year 1897.

1897 "History of the Water Works," by Frank E. Merrill, Chapter XIX from Somerville, past and present : an illustrated historical souvenir commemorative of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the city government of Somerville, Massachusetts, by Edward A. Samuels and Henry H. Kimball.  | Also here |

1907 Annual Report of the Water Commissioner of the City of Somerville, Massachusetts, for the year 1907.





2017 Morris A. Pierce