Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania Bristol

Bristol, Pennsylvania

Bristol was settled in 1681 and incorporated as a borough in 1720.

The Bristol Water Company was incorporated in 1857 with Allan Downing, Lewis T. Pratt, George Griscom, Nathan Gaskill, Robert Smith, William M. Downing, and William F. Pratt appointed as commissioners to sell stock "for the purpose of introducing from the Delaware river or other convenient source into the said borough of Bristol a sufficient supply of pure and wholesome water." This company did not build anything.

Another Bristol Water Company was incorporated on August 19, 1874 and built works that pumped water from the Delaware River into a standpipe using steam engines.

The Borough of Bristol bought the Bristol Water Company on July 19, 1912 for $112,640.

The Borough of Bristol sold its water system to Pennsylvania Suburban Water in 1997 for $25.4 million.  The Philadelphia Suburban Water Company merged into Pennsylvania Suburban Water Company in 2002.  Two years later Pennsylvania Suburban Water Company changed its name to Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc.

Water service is provided by Aqua Pennsylvania.

1857 An act to incorporate the Bristol Water Company.  May 21, 1857.

1882 Bristol, from Engineering News, 9:134 (April 29, 1882)

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

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

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

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

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

1906 First Annual Report of the Pennsylvania Department of Health
Page 305: Bristol Water Company, Application for permission to install a water purification plant.

1909 Dorrance, Appellant, v. Bristol Borough, 224 Pa. 464, April 19, 1909, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

1911 "Jos. R. Grundy Pledges Over $20,000 To Help Town Get Water Plant," The Bristol Daily Courier, June 30, 1911, Page 3.

1911 A History of Bristol Borough in the County of Bucks, State of Pennsylvania, by Doron Green | also here |
Page 198:  On February 13, 1875, the members attended the trial of the first fire plug in the town, one having been placed
at the corner of Radcliffe and Walnut Streets by the newly organized Bristol Water Company, and also put the steamer in service from the river and from the plug, the result being very satisfactory, both as to the plug stream and the line from the steamer.
Pages 257-258:  Bristol Water Company. The Bristol Water Company was incorporated August 31, 1874. The first standpipe erected was 140 feet high. Pipes were laid through the principal streets of the town, and extended with the growth and development of the municipality. The company was successful from the start and for many years has paid a 10 per cent, annual dividend. In 1895 the old standpipe was removed and a new one, 152 feet high, erected in its place.
In 1906 the company entered into a contract with the New York Continental Jewell Filter Company for a filter plant with a capacity of 2,000,000 gallons per day, at a cost of $25,000. This filter contains two coagulating tanks and four sand filters, occupying a space of 40 by 80 feet, with a concrete storage basin, 40 by 80 by 9 feet in depth, being similar in all respects to the Norristown Filtering Plant except in size.
It was during this year (1906) that Borough Council began the agitation for a municipal waterworks. The charter of the borough was changed by an act of the State Legislature, giving to the borough greater borrowing powers. A bitter controversy ensued between the managers and stockholders of the company and those interested in the establishment of a municipal plant.  Tuesday, July 10, 1906, was decided upon as the time when an election should be held by the citizens to decide upon the expenditure of $100,000 for a municipal water and filtration plant. In the midst of the controversy the water company began the installation of its filtration plant, but the citizens voted at the election in July, by a large majority, in favor of a municipal plant. Litigation followed in the courts, but all decisions favored the borough's right to maintain a municipal plant. Last year (1910), the question was revived, and Borough Council endeavored to purchase the Bristol Water Works, but without success. Plans for a new municipal plant have been drawn, approved by the State Board of Health and accepted by the Borough Council, and work on the new plant will begin soon.

1912 "Grundy Now Head of Water Works," The Bucks County Gazette, July 26, 1912, Page 3.
Acquistion of the Bristol Water Company was consummated on July 19, 1912.

1928 "Borough of Bristol Fire Zone," The Bristol Daily Courier, June 4, 1928, Page 1.
Water Supply. Ownership.  Works owned and operated by the Borough were purchased from the Bristol Water Company in 1912.

1995 "Sale of Bristol Water Dept. would result in rate increase," The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 22, 1995, Page 106.
The Lower Bucks authority is negotiating for it.

1996 "Phila. Suburban closes deal with Bristol Borough," The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 20, 1996, Page 53.
The transaction, which cost $25.4 million, becomes effective Jan 1., when PSW actually assumes operation of the Bristol water system.

2017 Morris A. Pierce