ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Water Works Plant





The Antigo (Wis.) council has voted to grant a franchise to some company to put in a system of water works in that city.  What's the matter with Watertown doing something of that sort?  Give us waterworks and sewerage. The city needs both.



The regular meeting of the Board of Street Commissioners Monday evening was broken up by the fire.  It is not a little singular that there was to have come before the body a proposition from a Chicago company to put in water works here and supply the city with 100 hydrants and an outlay of $5,000 a year.  We believe a majority of our citizens have come to the conclusion that the next improvement wanted in Watertown is a complete system of water works, embracing ample protection from fires.  Should this be done our citizens would save something in the lowering of the price of insurance, to say nothing of other benefits to be derived.



J. H. Thompson, of Chicago, was before the Board of Street Commissioners at their meeting Monday evening, explaining his plan for the establishing of water works in this city.  He was very concise in his details and gave a very full explanation of the water works system.  In answer to the objections to water works brought forward by some on account of the inability of the city to stand the expense at this time, we would say that the proposition does not call for the payment of any of the money until next year, when the city would be amply able to meet it with little if any additional tax.  In this connection what can be saved to the city by having water works, aside from any value being placed on their convenience or utility, should have due weight in considering the proposition to establish it here.     WR


From the minutes of the Board of Street Commissioners meeting held Monday evening, May 1st, 1890:  Clerk read proposition from Jas. H. Thompson, of Chicago, submitting to the Board a proposition to erect and maintain water works to furnish a supply of water for public and private usage; guaranteeing to erect and maintain a perfect system of pumping works with two steam boilers, two duplex steam pumps having a combined capacity of 2,000,000 gallons in 24 hours---10 miles of street mains of proper size for distribution of the water; also to erect 100 fire hydrants, of Ludlow pattern each to have 2 ˝-inch hose connections to fit hose now in use in the city; water to be clean water; to furnish all water for public schools and other buildings owned by city free of charge; provided the city pays an annual rental of $50.00 for each of the 100 hydrants, and the city to have the right to purchase the water works, should it so desire.  It is further agreed to furnish the same pumping works with seven miles of street mains with 70 hydrants at an annual rental of $60 for each hydrant.



The members of the Board of Street Commissioners returned Monday evening from a tour of inspecting water works.  They visited Portage, Wausau and Merrill to look over the water works at these points.  They were well pleased with the systems seen and would doubtless like to see Watertown as well fixed in respect to a supply of water as any of the places named.    WR


07 09       WE ARE TO PAY $50 PER HYDRANT

The Republican is for waterworks, but in securing them the board should exercise judgement and caution, and endeavor by every means possible to have them established here at as low a cost as other places have obtained them for, all things being equal.  By the committee's report to the board, it will be seen that Portage under her system pays only $40 per hydrant, while we are to pay $50 per hydrant.  Proportionally, Watertown aught to have her hydrants cheaper, because she takes 100, while Portage takes only 80.  Perhaps this difference against Watertown is easily explained, and if so, we would be glad to give the space for the explanation.  The Republican admits that it is not familiar with matters connected with the establishing of waterworks, but It can see that if a saving can be made of $10 a year on each hydrant, it is worth considering.    WR


07 16       100 HYDRANTS TO BE RENTED?

With the natural advantages possessed by Watertown, she wants waterworks as another Inducement to offer those aspiring to settle here, whether with a view of starting a business or making this their place of residence.  Parties are ready to put in a system of waterworks and run all the risk of the project paying, if the city will bind itself to take 100 hydrants at a rental to be agreed upon beforehand.  As to the amount of rental for 100 hydrants, say $5,000 a year, the tax payers get a return in the extra facilities for putting out fires that they obtain through the hydrants, thereby cheapening the insurance, and the saving that will come by the city being able to get along with a smaller fire department-. At present . . .     WR



It was at the meeting of the Bd. of Street Comm, on Monday July 21 that they accepted the proposal to build the water works.  Did not decide whether to grant a water-works franchise to a private company or to build a plant and operate it themselves.      WR



By reference to the proceeding of the Board of Street Commissioners published elsewhere, it will be seen that the waterworks project has been abandoned.  This news carries considerable disappointment to many of our citizens who thought the time had come for the establishment of waterworks in our midst, believing that they were an improvement wanted here.  It is useless to deny, however, that no inconsiderable number of our people were opposed to building waterworks at the present time, in view of the large expenses of the city, which will have to be met with an increase in taxes.  It is to be regretted that in the interests of the advancement of our city the Board could not have seen its way clear to have let a contract for waterworks.  Let the Board economize all it can so that within a reasonable time we may look for the establishment of waterworks without any fear of making the expense very much of a burden on the taxpayers.  An outlay for labor in our city to the amount, perhaps, of from $25,000 to $30,000, is a matter worth considering in connection with the waterworks, together with the impetus that the investment of new capital in the hands of new men would give the city.  Let us bide our time and trust in the near future to give us waterworks.      WR



The results of the waterworks agitation thus far has not been very encouraging to the advocates of the measure, and the action of Board of Street Commissioners at its meeting of the 18th inst. is a disagreeable surprise to those most largely interested in the business welfare of our city.  The progressive element of the Board stood to the rack like men and voted to accede to the request of manufacturers and other interests here who give then employment to over 800 of our people, and furnish bread for over 3000 human beings.  Such interests as these, the life and stay of our city, have been stabbed in the back, and that too in the house of their friends ---men who led on to victory (for the cause was a noble one), but deserted the cause when victory was within their grasp.  And for what?  There is not the slightest excuse that can be given.  The proceedings in the matter, from start to finish, were regular, no feature of the city charter had been violated, and the lowest bidder for the franchise on the 18th inst. would have given a personal release to any of those voting to give the franchise, from any liability that anyone might see fit to hold them responsible for.  The board had a perfect right to grant the franchise; and the bidders who were here consulted the ablest authority in the country on that point, and were fully satisfied that they we would be perfectly safe in accepting a franchise from the board of Street Commissioners. . . .      WR




For the information of those who desire to know how I stand upon the question of waterworks in this city, I desire to say that my former views have undergone some modification.  I am now clearly of the opinion that when it shall appear that the financial condition of the city will justify this improvement, the same should be undertaken by the city, and the works should be owned and controlled by the city, so that whatever profit there is derived from the enterprise may be for the benefit of taxpayers.  Information obtained from residents of other cities where waterworks are maintained lead me to believe that this is better than to have the franchise owned by outsider parties.     WG      


Geo. J. Weber




(Regarding yesterday's item from The Republican)  The improvement would be a good one, one that The Gazette would most heartily endorse, provided Waterton had water-works and sewerage, but until that time arrives, the paving of the streets we do not think should be undertaken.  It would indeed be a full-hardy piece of business to pave our streets first, and afterwards have them all torn up in case water-works and sewerage were put in at any time; and these improvements cannot be long delayed, for there is no question in our mind but that there are many wells in the city the water of which is unfit for use, the condemning of which may require the intervention of the state board of health.  In case that body ever does visit our city for this purpose, it may bring some of our citizens to a realization of their public duties, and hasten the introduction of a system of water-works and sewerage in our city.  Water-works and sewerage first, then let paved streets follow.      WG



For five days previous to Wednesday last the weather was so hot in this vicinity that it was almost unbearable, being from 95 to 100 in the shade, and not having had any rain to speak of for nearly two months, Mother Earth just now presents a very parched appearance, and the dust on our streets is anything but pleasant---in fact a little water-works just now would be appreciated by the most ardent anti-works man in the city.  Now would be a good time to commence in a water-works plant here, and we will move that our board of street commissioners do at once proceed in the matter, for unless something of this kind is done at once there is danger of old Sol drying up the town, for just at present she is "frying the fat” out of her in good shape---there's not a blade of green grass to be seen anywhere, and even the trees are beginning to suffer for want of water.  Had we waterworks here, there would be no occasion for this condition of affairs, for everybody could have a sprinkler in his own door yard, and keep his premises looking fresh and green.



Another week has passed and not a drop of rain has fallen in this vicinity, making now about two months since we have been favored in that respect.  The city throughout is almost as dry as the desert of Sahara, and should the present drought continue for a much longer period, it would be about as undesirable as a place of residence.  Everything is as dry as gunpowder, and should fire break out there is no telling where it would end.  Lawns and gardens, trees and shrubbery, cisterns and wells, are all crying for rain---or WATERWORKS. 


The former we cannot grant, but the latter is within our power to have should our board of street commissioners so ordain, and a walk through the city at the present time we believe will convince the most ardent anti-waterworks man in the board that there is need of such an improvement here.  Nice residences with parched lawns, trees and shrubbery surrounding them are not in good keeping.    WG



Few who witnessed the fire of last Thursday morning were convinced of the necessity for a system of waterworks here.  It would be folly to assert that with waterworks the Valerius barns would not have burned, but if experience with waterworks have any weight it is tolerably certain that part of the live stock, at least, might have been saved and the conflagration proved not so serious or painful in its results.  That a proper supply of water was wanting was evident to all and the surroundings showed that there was some reason for the demand made by Dr. Valerius & Co. for a cistern in the vicinity of their establishment, but upon which demand no action was ever taken by the council.  Automatic sprinklers used in connection with the waterworks systems are coming in use in such concerns as Dr. Valerius & Co's. . . .  Some favor the city putting in the works, others are for erecting them under a franchise and so divisions exist even among those in favor of a better water supply than we now have.     WR



EDITOR GAZETTE:  It seems that an important point in the waterworks argument, occasioned by the Valerius fire, has been entirely overlooked, or, it may have been mentioned in some of our local papers and overlooked by the writer.  One local paper, we do not recollect which, states that the barns would have burned, waterworks or no waterworks.  This does not solve the matter.  We have heard of no less than half a dozen places remote from the fire which were ignited, but saved by the anxious owners.  Had this fire occurred during the recent dry spell it would doubtless have resulted disastrously.  A few hydrants with hose would have added very materially to our safety.  The writer recollects when the Bay State House burned at Watertown Junction, large pieces of burning shingle were carried as far as 4th Street in the first ward.  This should illustrate conclusively that it is not simply a question of "putting out" a burning building, but also of protection for the balance of the city. B.



EDITOR GAZETTE:  It seems that an important point in the waterworks argument, occasioned by the Valerius fire has been entirely overlooked, or, it may have been mentioned in some of our local papers and over- looked by the writer.  One local paper, we do not recollect which, states that the barn would have burned, waterworks or no waterworks.  This does not solve the matter.  We have heard of no less than half a dozen places remote from the fire which were ignited, but saved by the anxious owners.  And if this fire occurred during the dry spell it would doubtless have resulted disastrously.  A few hydrants with hose would have added very materially to our safety.  The writer recollects when the Bay State House burned at Watertown Junction, large pieces of burning shingle were carried as far as 4th street in the First ward.  This should illustrate conclusively that it is not simply a question of "putting out" a burning building, but also of protection for the balance of the city.     WG



The three-year old son of Robert Woelfer, living in the Heyman place in the fourth ward, was dreadfully burned about the feet and ankles Friday, while playing in the debris of the Valerius fire.  When the little fellow's shoes and stockings were taken off the skin peeled off with them.     WR


10 16       WATERWORKS NEEDED, letter from Charles Park


Welwyn, Eng., Sept. 25th, 1891

Watertown, Wisconsin

My Dear Friend:

I have just heard of your great loss and hasten to offer you my sympathy, which I assure you is most sincere.  I have had a little experience myself in burning out and don't know what we will have to go through it again unless something is done in the way of waterworks.  One would have thought a town of Watertown's size would have waterworks, and that years ago; but there seem to be enough mossbacks in the city to sit down upon all things of an improving character.  I trust you are not so badly crippled as to be unable to build up to your former size.  Some men might burn out in Watertown without serious loss to the city, but men of the enterprise of yourselves can illy be spared.  I shall be home now very soon.  We expect to sail Oct. 10th on the Normania of the Hamburg-American line. . .

CHAS. E. PARKS         WG




The work on the city sewerage will begin next Wednesday.  The Board of Public Works will appoint an overseer to look after the interests of the city and see that the work is properly done.  This is an important position and none but a competent man should be appointed.   WR



The sewerage contractors have now two gangs of men employed, one on Second Street and the other on Church Street.  The latter is making more rapid progress than the former, less digging being required and the soil being of a better nature for handling there than on the east side.


The Gas company has been notified by the common council to remove the gas pipe on First Street extending from Bailey Street to Main Street, on the grounds that it interferes with the construction of the sewer as per terms of the contract.  The expense involved will be considerable.     WR



West Main Street is now the scene of the sewer-builders' operations, and the construction of the tile sewers is progressing very rapidly, although the miserable weather of the past few days has caused a cessation in the work.  A force of 150 men is now employed, about half of whom are imported Swedes and Fins.  The weather is certainly disappointing.  Just as we supposed spring to be upon us, we are brought back to a full realization of winter in all its grandeur by presence of a full-fledged snow storm yesterday morning.  The elements are indeed more fickle than usual this winter and there is no telling what the day following may bring forth.     WR



Our sewerage system has been completed and the finishing touches put on the past few days.  It is expected that the sewers will be flushed and tested today and the job forthwith accepted by the city.   WR



Yesterday John Barry of Milwaukee, an expert sewer inspector, recommended by City Engineer Benzenberg, looked over our system.  He will make a report as to his inspection to the board of public works.   WR



The awarding of the contract for the additional sewerage seems to be in a muddle.  The board of public works had drawn up a contract with R. J. Wilson, of Milwaukee, to do the work on his bid, $12,707.43, although there was one still lower than this . . . The contract was laid before the council for approval.  Alderman Grube moved to adopt the report and approve the contract, but the motion was lost . . . The aldermen, it appears, were not satisfied why the bid of William Murphy, of Chicago, at $11,401.78, was not considered a responsible one by the board and, pending enlightenment on the subject, refused to ratify the board’s action.  The whole matter thus becomes complicated, and our citizens are beginning to wonder "where they are at," and if the sewers are to be built at all or not.  This may also be said of Mr. Wilson, who supposed everything would be all right for him to go ahead with the work and had already shipped three carloads of pipe here and distributed it on the streets.  He was rather hasty, however, in doing this, for the city charter distinctly says that "the contract (for sewers) shall not be binding until the same shall have been approved by the common council and countersigned by the comptroller."  WR



Quite a number of our citizens are connecting their private drains with the sewers.  Permits to do this must be obtained from the board of public works.   WR



[same date] There was a lively and interesting session of the common council last evening, during which Ald. Heck, of the Second ward, was openly charged by R. J. Wilson, the sewer contractor, with attempted boodiery and having offered to sell his vote in the council for a consideration of $200.  The lobby was crowded with citizens and a good deal of excitement prevailed over the developments of the evening.


After the routine business was transacted, Mayor Voss, who made the suggestion because he thought legal complications might afterward arise which the aldermen would regret, called the attention of the council to the fact that if it was desired to further discuss the contract made by the board of public works with R. J. Wilson, of Milwaukee, for sewers, it would be necessary to reconsider the vote, and a motion to that effect prevailed . . . Mr. Wilson stepped forward and made the accusation against Ald. Heck, as stated above, the same occurring near the Northwestern railway depot, and also saying that he agreed at the time to consider the proposition.  Heck branded the same as a deliberate falsehood, but Wilson claimed he could prove it and he will undoubtedly be called upon to do so.  The charge is a serious one against the alderman and will be thoroughly investigated.  The initial step will be taken at a special meeting with the common council this evening, when it was also agreed to bring up sewer contracts for further discussion.   WR


11 28       At the adjourned meeting of the common council, last Wednesday evening, the matter of the contract of the board of public works with R. J. Wilson for the construction of sewerage ordered by the council on October 2, was again taken up for discussion . . . Ald. Grube presented a petition with over 200 signatures of owners of lots abutting on the proposed sewerage, praying that the work be begun as soon as possible, and he therefore urged the ratification of the Wilson contract.  The board, he thought, had fulfilled the spirit of the law in letting the contract and their action should be up held . . . After considerable more talk, pro and con, the question of approving the contract was put on its passage and lost by the following vote: ayes 6; noes 8.


A resolution was then introduced by Ald. Woodard directing the board of public works to re-advertise for bids on the same work.  The resolution was adopted by an exact reversal of the vote whereby the proposition to accept the Wilson bid was lost.


It had been threatened by Mr. Wilson that if the council did not accept his contract he would bring suit against the city for the full amount of his bid, but no action in this regard is as yet known to have been taken by him.   WR


11 28       [same date] The charge of attempted boodling preferred against Ald. E. Heck by Contractor R. J. Wilson, of Milwaukee, remains unproven, and there seems to be nothing definite known as yet in the matter.  Preliminary steps for a thorough investigation were taken at the special meeting of the common council on November 21, when a resolution was unanimously passed authorizing the mayor to appoint a committee of three to look into the matter, take testimony and report to the council . . . The committee decided to hold its first meeting for the taking of testimony, last Saturday evening before the full council, and notified Mr. Wilson who returned to Milwaukee, to be present and give his version of the matter.  Friday Wilson sent word that he could not be here Saturday evening, but would advise the committee as soon as convenient for him to come.  Since then nothing has been heard from him, but everybody is awaiting his coming with much interest.  This matter should not be allowed to settle itself, and Ald. Heck, to uphold his honor, should insist upon as prompt an investigation as possible.   WR


11 28       [same date] The judiciary committee of the common council is considering some feasible means for relief of the taxpayers in the special sewer assessment matters.  It is hoped the five-year plan may culminate.    WR


12 05       There are complaints being made by several of our citizens who have laid private drains that some of the drain layers charge exorbitant prices for their work, in fact, more than is paid by the city to put in the largest pipe sewers.  To guard against this, it would seem that the wise citizen should, before laying his drains, secure bids from different drain layers and enter into contract with the one chosen to have the work done at a stipulated price, instead of allowing the rates to be fixed after the work is completed.  There is certainly a sufficient number of licensed drain layers here anxious for business to make the competition quite lively and to bring the compensation down to something reasonable.   WR


12 05       At the meeting of the common council last evening, the report of the joint committees on sewerage and finance, relating to the final settlement with McCann & McLellan, the sewer contractor, was adopted.  The amount recommended by the board of public works to be paid on their final estimate, which was $5,966.83, was cut on different items so that it is about $900 less.  The principal diminution is forfeiture for overtime $15 per day being charged against the contractor for fifty-three days after July 30, when the contract calls for the completion of the work. Orders were voted to be drawn for the final payment.   WR


1895       In 1895 Justus Moak was elected; during his term as mayor the waterworks was commenced and nearly completed.


01 09       The common council has voted to disallow the bill of McCann & McCellan, the sewer contractors, amounting to $3,220.41, for work claimed to have been done above the estimates of the city engineer.  This action was taken at the meeting last Wednesday evening, when a committee report to that effect was adopted.  WR


01 09       [same date] The board of public works has issued a notice that sealed proposals will be received at the city clerk's office, up to 4 o'clock on Friday afternoon, January 18, for the construction of the same lot of sewers and appurtenances advertised for October, and over the awarding of the contract for which there was a squabble.  The successful bidder will be required to take special assessments against lot owners as a portion of his pay.   WR



[same date] NOTE – The man who was injured in a sewer-digging accident on April 21,1894, and paralyzed died on Jan. 3, 1895, at Emergency Hospital in Chicago.  Mr. Robinsond ????   WR



Work on the new sewerage was begun Monday, two gangs being engaged, one on Rock Street, Fifth ward, and one on Second Street, First Ward.   WR



There will be a special informal meeting of the common council tonight at the council rooms, to informally consider the subject of waterworks, at which the mayor requests that there be a large attendance of citizens who may be interested on either side of the question, and particularly of the taxpayers.


We happen to have with us the representatives of a prominent firm of waterworks engineers, who are now constructing several important plants in this state, and who have been looking over the situation here.  They claim to have a plan particularly adapted to the conditions existing in this city, which they have asked the privilege of presenting to the citizens for their consideration.  It goes without saying that this matter is of sufficient importance to receive the thoughtful consideration of all, and a large attendance is anticipated.



By a vote of 9 to 3 a resolution, introduced by Alderman Woodard, was last night passed by the common council instructing the mayor to appoint a committee of five aldermen to investigate the matter of waterworks for this city, said committee to obtain and report all of the available information on the subject.  The resolution also empowers the committee to visit neighboring places that have systems and inspect all matters regarding the same, such trips to be at the city’s expense.  Some of the aldermen wish to delay the appointment of the committee until the next meeting, two weeks hence, but the mayor will name the members at a special meeting of the council this evening.   WR



Mayor Moak, at the adjourned council meeting last Wednesday evening, appointed the following as members of the special committee on waterworks:  Aldermen F. E. Woodard, A. E. Needham, W. S. Quentmeyer, S. M. Eaton and A. L. Schmidt.  Upon motion, it was agreed to add the mayor to the committee.  Visits to neighboring water plants will be made and the committee expect to soon report what information they have secured.    WR



Nothing new has transpired in the waterworks question.  Last week the common council committee inspected the systems in Madison, Janesville, Beloit and Whitewater, but have made no report as yet.  Their suggestions are awaited with considerable interest by citizens.     WR



George C. Morgan, the waterworks engineer, and his assistant, Arthur Morgan, came up from Chicago Monday, bringing with them the plans, specifications and estimates for our waterworks system.


In the evening they were met informally by the city officials, organizers of the water company and representative citizens at the city clerk’s office, where the plans and specifications were exhibited and the estimates read.  The plans and specifications are very elaborate and complete, and if carried out will establish a most excellent system. 


The details of the power house, reservoir, standpipe, etc., provide handsome and substantial structures, built upon the most modern and improved lines.


The system includes 14 ˝ miles of mains and 149 street hydrants.  Two compound double pumping engines, with a capacity of 3,500,000 gallons per day, are to furnish the power, together with two large boilers.  The plant is a duplicate one.  Mr. Morgan thinks one artesian well, 800 feet deep, is sufficient for the water supply at present.  The reservoir will hold over 500,000 gallons, and the standpipe is to be 132 feet high.  For fire protection the plant will furnish ample pressure at a distance of 1,000 feet from the outlying hydrants.


Mr. Morgan’s estimates on the cost of construction of the system from the five different sites offered are as follows: 


site “B” (P. Kennedy’s property near Junction), $102,911;

site “E” (Globe mill), $107,403;

site “A” (Richards property, Twelfth street and St. Paul railway), $108,623;

site “C” (Heinrichs factory), $108,689;

site “D” (Rough and Ready property), $114,862.


These estimates do not include the consideration of water power in any instance, and are on the same amount of mains, with the necessary substitutions. 


Mr. Morgan took as a foundation for his computations the Kennedy property and seemed to favor that as a site.  The selection of a site, however, remains with the council.       The Watertown Republican, 11 Sep 1895



Watertown Water Dept date block, 17x26 inches, now held by our society



09 18       At the meeting of the common council last evening a selection of the site for the waterworks was made, the Globe Milling Company's plant on First Street being the one chosen.  The price of the property is to be $8,000, and all the milling machinery will be removed.  There has been considerable of a fight over the decision of this matter, all parties offering sites being anxious to sell, but it is hoped the question has been amicably settled . . . While nominally $4,500 dearer than the Kennedy site, yet the difference is almost if not entirely wiped out by the advantages the former possesses over the latter in the smoke stack, foundation walls, brick, excavations which would be useful in building a reservoir, and water privileges, all of which can be utilized , leaving out of the question the fact that a better head of water by several feet, from artesian wells, can be obtained there than at a higher point.  The location is central, and with a frontage of 532 feet there is ample room for the pumping station, a large reservoir, and all buildings that may be required in the future.   WR


09 25       The action by which $50 was deducted from the amount of William Gorder's sewerage contract was reconsidered by the council Monday evening and a voucher for that amount for Mr. Gorder's favor ordered drawn.  The item was incurred in flushing the sewers after completion, and the majority of the aldermen at first thought the contract should meet the expenditure.  There was a squabble over the matter, with the above final results.  WR


09 25       [same date] Theodore Prentiss and City Attorney Conway completed the proposed waterworks ordinance, embodying the franchise, last Friday and printed copies of this work were immediately gotten out.  Monday evening a special meeting of the common council was held to consider the ordinance, and after some minor alterations the same was approved by a unanimous vote.  It will now be published in the official paper for two weeks, and then put on its final passage.  Thus the matter of waterworks in our city may now be considered fairly under way . . . It is expected to have the system completed by March 1, next.  The cost is estimated at not above $105,000.  WR


10 23       Although the bids of the waterworks system were opened last Wednesday evening, it was not decided untiI Friday evening where the contract should go.  Then it was announced that W.H. Wheeler & Co., of Beloit, was the lucky bidders.  We understand Wheeler & Co.'s contract will call for the best of materials, machinery, appurtenances, etc.  Two artesian wells are to be sunk and the pumping done by two Smith & Vail engines.  Ludlow Hydrants and Rensselaer gates, valves and boxes are to be used.  The pipes and mains will be of a well-known Cleveland make.  It is very probable that Wheeler & Co. will give home firms the preference of sub-contracts, in all instances where the work can be done reasonably, and this arrangement will assure the pipe line job to William Gorder and the water tower and boiler to the Kunert Manufacturing Company.  Work will begin at the earliest possible day.   WR


10 30       The Watertown Waterworks company entered into contracts with W.H. Wheeler & Co. on Thursday last, and the following day actual work on the waterworks plant was begun, Mr. Wheeler employing a gang of men, under the supervision of W.F. Quentmeyer, to clear away the ruins of the Globe mill and put the site in shape for building purposes.  It will be necessary to change the line of the St. Paul Road's spur tracks on the site, so as to have the required room for the pumping station.  Monday Superintendent Morgan was here with his assistant, William J. Gregg, and the latter is now on the ground arranging details. As soon as the pipe arrives the work of laying the mains will begin, and probably within a week or so a force of 150 men will be laboring to give this city an adequate water supply.  WR



A lot in the Richards Hill addition, on the north side of Western Avenue and opposite the old Livsey homestead, has been purchased by the waterworks company as a site for the water tower.   WR


11 06       The St. Paul Railway company has had a force of men employed the past week changing the spur-track on the site of the waterworks pumping station.  It now lies nearer First Street.   WR


11 13       Matters around the waterworks site have assumed a very busy aspect.  The walls of the powerhouse are fast going up, and the work of excavating for the circular reservoir is well under way.  A coffer dam of sandbags is being built across the river at the foot of Western Avenue, so as to shut off the water and thus facilitate the laying of the main to the west side.  The ponderous apparatus for drilling the artesian wells is on the ground and will soon be working.  It is owned by a Minneapolis contractor a and was sent here from Knoxville, III., where a 1,500-foot well was drilled.  WR



The location of street hydrants of the water system was definitely arranged at the council meeting Saturday evening. There are to be 149 of them, which will pretty thoroughly cover the city. WR


11 20       The water in the mill race near the waterworks site has handicapped, through leakage, the work of excavating for the reservoir, and to overcome this a dam was placed in the race near Krueger’s marble works [Albert C. Krueger and Andrew Roegner] Sunday, thus cutting off the water below that point. WR


Last Thursday a force of seventy-five men was put to work digging trenches for the water mains, and the following day the first length of main was laid on Fifth Street, near Mayor Moak's home.   Each length of six-inch main weighs 400 pounds on the average.  In favorable weather the work of main laying is quite rapid, and Wheeler & Co. expects to have several miles of it done before winter sets in for good.  Thus employment will be had by a large number of the city’s laborers who would otherwise be without work at this time of year.  WR


11 27       The laying of the water mains has ceased owing to the considerable amount of frost in the ground.  The men were laid off Monday noon.  Digging trenches had become very slow work.  WR


12 18       A depth of about 750 feet has been reached in drilling the artesian well at the waterworks plant.  The flow is over 500 gallons per minute, having remained the same for two or three days past.  The supply of water thus secured is deemed sufficient for the city's needs, but an analysis of the water shows considerable lime in it yet and consequently drilling will be continued in the hope of securing a better quality.  Lime renders the water hard and it is desirable to have it soft for several other intended usages, not the least of which is the large consumption expected by the railways for their locomotives.  It is likely that the Waterworks company will dispense with drilling two wells at present, as originally intended, for the reason that the supply from one seems great enough.  WR


12 18       There is considerable complaint heard concerning the water pipes strung along the curbing on several streets.  Inconvenience is thus caused to citizens using conveyances.  There seems no prospect of the pipes being laid before spring, and something should be done a t once to get them out of people's way.   WR


12 25       Residents of Watertown are very proud of their new artesian well, which is intended to supply water of the city waterworks.  The work was done by S. Swanson, of Minneapolis.  Water was reached at the depth of 525 feet, in a great quantity, the flow being at the rate of 500 gallons per minute.  The well will be sunk still further, to 1,200 feet if necessary, and Mr. Swanson expects a flow of at least 1,000 gallons per minute.  It was the intention of the city authorities to sink several wells in order to secure an adequate amount, but it is now believed that one will be sufficient.  The tube of this spouter is twelve inches in diameter.  Minneapolis Times   WR


   Stand-Pipe, 132 feet high











The Watertown wastewater treatment plant had been an integral part of the city’s water infrastructure for over 120 years, treating half of the city’s water supply.  Its historic Well No. 1 and water department building were constructed with the brick and rubble from an old Rock River mill in 1896.



Ordinance purchasing the waterworks system from the Watertown Water Works Company


WATERTOWN WATERWORKS ---- Bought by city Sept ‘96 for $105,424, which was actual cost of plant built in 1896 [1895] by Watertown Water Works Co.  Put in operation June 20.  Engr Geo. C. Morgan Chicago

Contrs W. H. Wheeler & Co. Beloit

SUPPLY -- Artesian well flowing 864,000 galls. per day, pumping to reservoir, stand pipe, and direct

PUMPS -- Cap 1,500 000 galls.  Stillwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile, Indiana block coal used av. cost $3 per short ton

RESERVOIRS -- Cap 350,000 galls.

STAND PIPE -- Cap 150,000 galls. 18 x 80 ft. on stone and brick foundation

DISTRIBUTION -- Mains 14 ˝ miles.  Services lead paid for by consumer.  Meters -- Consumer may purchase or rent a meter yearly rental $2.  Hydrants public -- 150

PRESSURE -- Ordinary 86 lbs.; fire 150 lbs.

FINANCIAL -- Cost $105,000.  Cap Stock Authorized, $100,000; paid up, $20,000.  Bonded debt $90,000 at 6% due in installments.  Revenue City: fire protection, $6,000

MANAGEMENT -- Pres M J Woodward; Treas Wm D Spraesser; Supt Julius Fox.  Rept by Secy, Wm F Voss, June 26 96, before city bought works

SEWERS --Has sanitary and partial system of storm sewers                   Source of info  



Water line, laying of, 1898, 300 block E Main, Third and Main, WHS_004_NT_063


Water line, laying of, 1898, 300 block E Main, Third and Main, WHS_004_NT_064 


Water line, laying of, E Main, 1898 



The board of water commissioners has changed the time for lawn sprinkling so that now water may be used two hours in the morning, from 8, and 2 hours in the evening, from 6 to 8 o'clock. Formerly the time was from 4 to 6 p.m.  This ruling does not apply to those having meters.  WR



It is very probable that the sewer ordered by the common council to be built in the alley of block 11, First ward, will not be constructed.  As the plans for city sewerage now stand, there is no provision made for such a sewer, and the charter does not permit of a change in the system except by a three-fourths vote of the council, and after an ordinance to that effect has been published two successive weeks in the official paper, all of which was not done.  The project also smacks of class legislation, as the sewer is requested by a few property owners who already have a Main Street sewer as an accommodation.  It is likely that the mayor will veto the measure.    WG



The sewers to be constructed under William Gorder's contract are all completed with the exception of the one on Tenth Street, where the work was delayed due to the watery condition of the ground.  It has been necessary to pump out the water and encase the trench.   WG



The board of public works has given notice that all sewer drains, water and gas service pipes must be constructed in front of lots abutting on Main Street, between the bridge and the west line of Fifth Street, on or before July 28 next.  In compliance with this order the work is going forward rapidly, several connections being already made.   WG



A steam whistle has been purchased by the board of water commissioners and is erected to be in place on the power house in a few days.  It is a three-chimes whistle and will serve several purposes, one of which will be to notify consumers of the closing time for lawn sprinkling both morning and evening, and another to proclaim, in case of fire, the number of the ward in which the fire is located.   WR

_____________ more on chime whistle _____________


08 20       The new chime whistle purchased by the water commissioners was put in place yesterday and tested last evening and this morning.  It will have its full force of steam this evening when it will be blown for the first time.  The whistle is composed of three parts and requires a three-inch steam pipe for feed.  It will be used to give warning to consumers of city water for lawn purposes, when they may use the same and when to stop.  The hours are from 6 to 8 a.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m.  It is also proposed to use the whistle to denote the ward in case of fire.  With favorable conditions it can be heard at a distance of twelve miles.


(Previously it had been suggested the fire bell be tapped to indicate the ward but the idea was rejected because often the bell is rung by someone other than fireman and the ringer may not know the ward)   WDT

_____________ more on chime whistle _____________


08 24       Last Friday the new chime whistle ordered by the water commissioners was put in place on the powerhouse and tested.  It has since been blown regularly at 6 and 8 a.m. and 6 and 8 p.m. each day, giving the best of satisfaction as to volume and tone.  It is composed of three parts requiring a three-inch steam pipe for feed, and belches forth a loud sound that can be heard twelve miles under favorable conditions.  The whistle sounds the opening and closing times for lawn sprinkling, and will also denote the location of fires by sounding the number of the ward.   WR



The lower part of the filling of the sewer in West Main Street, between Water Street and Montgomery Street, has settled and fallen away so as to leave an unsupported crust for the surface of the street over said sewer, which is liable at any time to break through and cause dangerous defects in the street and thereby make the city liable to pay damages.   WG



04 21       WATER PIPE BURST

The water pipe on West Main Street west of the railroad track burst last Friday night, and next morning it was found that the stand pipe was entirely empty.  Supt. Fix had the water gate east of the bridge closed, and the danger the city was in in case of fire for lack of water pressure was promptly remedied.  A considerable portion of the pipe west of the C.&N.W. Ry. will have to be dug up, as it is thought quite a number of places have been broken by the frost the past winter.   WG



At the last city council meeting Alderman Krueger introduced a resolution to place fountains and watering places at the dead ends of the waterworks system on North Church, North Fourth and River streets so as to keep water pure; that waterworks committee be given the right to purchase fountains, and have them put in by the waterworks commissioners. This was referred to the waterworks commissioners.   WR



On Saturday Judge Dick rendered his long-expected decision in the suit of McCann & McLellan against the city of Watertown.  The case was argued in the Dodge County circuit court in the fall of '96.  McCann & McLellan, who built our sewerage system in 1894, brought suit to recover $4,875, claimed to be owing them on their contract with the city.  Of this amount $226.86 was for interest and of their entire claim this one item is the only allowance made by Judge Dick.  The decision is virtually a victory for the city.   WR



That the city of Watertown acted wisely in pursuing the method that it did in constructing its waterworks system is being continually evidenced by the troubles exploited by other cities which were not so fortunate in acquiring municipal ownership.  Rather than to have an outside company come here and engage in the enterprise of supplying the city's needs in the water line, local capital was enlisted, the system built, and as soon as completed turned over to the city on easy terms.  It has not been so in many other places, where the people have been at the mercy of outside money—grabbers for long terms, the whole business generally winding up in the courts.  A recent instance of this unpleasant state of affairs is cited from Portage and leads The Milwaukee Sentinel to produce, under the caption “Private Ownership of Waterworks," a well- tempered argument in favor of municipal ownership of public utilities.   WR




Arrangements have been completed whereby the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company will use city water for their locomotives and other purposes at this point.  Julius Fix, superintendent of the waterworks, has closed the contract, but the same must be ratified by the board of water commissioners.  The company will put in three taps — one where their water tank now stands, another near the coal sheds, and the third at the stock yards.  The company’s surveyors are now employed in making the necessary surveys.  The water commissioners will furnish piping to the curb from the West Main Street main.  WR



[same date] Saturday morning August Conrad drove his dray team into the river near the waterworks plant and the horses walked into the well from which water is supplied for condensing purposes.  After nearly drowning they were, with difficulty, rescued, but one was so badly chilled that it had to be put to death of relieve its suffering.   WR



07 19       NO WASTE OF WATER

The Board of Water Commissioners have issued a card to users of city water calling on them not to waste water during this extended dry weather.  “This appeal to consumers is necessary because the flow of the well is limited, and to keep a sufficient supply of water on hand for the protection of property against fire must be of the first consideration, and should appeal to the justice of every fair-minded citizen.”  Notwithstanding this appeal, people who consider themselves some of our best citizens continue to use city water long after sprinkling hours every evening.  The police have been instructed to be on the lookout every evening for such people, and see to it that the practice is discontinued.  A walk through the residence portion of the city any evening will convince anyone that a great many people violate the ruling of the city water department.  This should be stopped. 


600,000 gallons of water are used daily during this hot weather, and the water commissioners say that next spring another well will be drilled in order to supply the increasing demand for water here.  WG



Last week it had been claimed that the water at the box factory was contaminated with disease germs.  The water in that section of the city is taken from a dead end of the waterworks and became stagnant, owing to not enough water being drawn off to keep the water fresh, hence it was very warm for drinking purposes.  Not being desirable for drinking purposes, led to the supposition that it was contaminated.  Health Commissioner J. M. Sleicher had his attention called to it, and on examination said the water was stagnant and unpalatable, but not dangerous to health.  Hereafter, however, the hydrant will be opened more frequently which will give a fresh supply of water and make it more suitable for drinking purposes.  The water supply in this city comes from one of the finest artesian wells in the world and there is no possible way for it to be contaminated.   WG



One of the arguments heard against a water meter system in this city is that it will reduce the revenue accruing to the water fund.  That is just what the plant was built for, to furnish water to citizens at the least possible cost.  If that theory is true, which we believe it is, it will also reduce the cost of maintaining the plant.  It takes coal to furnish water that is wasted just as well as to furnish water that is used economically.  It was apparent to all last summer that water was being wasted and public notices were printed in the papers at the time warning water users.  There are probably other reasons why a water meter system is not established as in other cities, but surely the argument referred to is not sufficient excuse for present conditions.   WDT




At a meeting of the Board of Water Commissioners held Thursday night of last week Arthur Morgan, of Chicago, was authorized to prepare plans for the drilling of a new well for our city water supply.  Last summer during the warm months, the supply of our water works was barely sufficient to meet the demand on it, and after due consideration it was deemed best to provide for a more generous supply of water.  It is said the well will be drilled in Western Avenue near Third or Fourth Street.   WG


04 11       Last Tuesday evening the water commissioners opened the bids received by them for drilling a new well for the use of the water department of this city.  Four bids were received, that of Swantes Swanson of Minneapolis being the lowest.  The price is $2500 for a 600 feet deep well, and if a sufficient flow of water is not obtained at the depth, $2 for each additional foot will be charged.  This is the same contractor that drilled the other water works well here, hence a good job is looked for.  The well will be drilled on Western Avenue, about 800 feet east of the present well on First Street.   WG



                Water Tower, 1903, viewed from roof of Octagon House, WHS_005_207



12 25       Water Works Commission will show marked progress, Albert Donner, mgr.    WG



A picture containing text, outdoor, railroad

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03 05       Improvements at Water Works Plant; pressure increased for fire fighting, capacity and costs   WG


08 06       Albert Donner quit as superintendent   WG


10 01       Charles MacKay appointed superintendent   WG



04 22       J. P. Humphrey, John T. Ryan, William Schimmel - Standing Committee, Water Works


04 29       Statement on condition of water works by Mayor Grube   WG



C. Stone, first assistant of Prof. Meade of the state University at Madison was here last week in consultation with the board of water commissioners and inspected our water plant with a view of supplying a larger amount of water to meet the demands of the city.   WG



07 20       Last Friday the new artesian well which has been recently completed was connected with the city water supply.  The well is 800 feet deep and flows over 400 gallons per minute.  Watertown has now three artesian wells supplying the city with water and it is expected they will meet all requirements for some time.   WG



The Water Commissioners of this city have just issued their 15th annual report and the following extracts will be of general interest:  Like all other cities in the northwest who are dependent on their water supplies through wells, Watertown experienced a shortage for several months during the long drought in mid summer which was remedied as soon as the new well, number three, was completed.  The supply is now ample but the new well, while of good and strong flow, has to some extent affected the flow of the two old wells.  That there may be no recurrence of shortage of water next summer your board is now taking steps to see how the flow of the two old wells may be increased and for that purpose will have the matter investigated by a competent hydraulic engineer.  The city is now on a complete meter basis except six taps which are on a flat rate and these are taps to barns where it would be impossible to place meters, except at great expense, on account of frost.


The city now pays for the public use of water for street sprinkling and in all of its public buildings, but not for flushing sewers and water used for public fountains and drinking troughs . . .  WG






12 19       Fire Alarm Call – From this date parties discovering a fire and notifying “central” at the telephone station, must state the exact location of the fire.  It is then the duty of “central” to at once notify both engine houses as well as the waterworks station.  – John Glazer, Chief.   WG



 1913, Stand Pipe, WHS_004_NT_008


    WHS_006_783.jpg is c1913




At a special meeting of the common council of this city held last Tuesday evening John Habhegger was elected to succeed himself as water commissioner for a period of three years from October 5, 1915.   WG







   1940, Stand Pipe in background; Interurban turning onto Western Ave


1940s, early




     Hilary G. Reichardt, worked for the waterworks from 1939 until 1961.  This 1950 image of him was taken in front of Municipal Well No. 2 located at 407 Western Ave.








       1950–51 project to install new water main in connection with new O’Connell Street water tower




05 17       An electric eye will operate the light beacon atop the city's new west side water storage tank.  Work on the electrical installation will be underway this week.  The beacon will be mounted at the very top of the huge globular tank, which towers 180 feet into the air.  Also to be installed on the tank will be an automatic gauge which will register the amount of water in the tank.  It has a 300,000 gallon capacity.  The tank is nearly completed and painters are at work on the structure.  The name "Watertown" is to be included on the side of the globe.   WDT






12 01       First in a series of steps to improve and expand the city's water facilities    WDT


1950s, assumed

A large machine in a factory

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03 14       Application for long range improvement and expansion plan   WDT



09 10       Hilary G. Reichardt, 109 North Fifth Street, who recently completed 42 years of service in the city waterworks department, was honored at a dinner last night at the Legion Green Bowl in recognition of the long and outstanding record he achieved during his work for the city.  Thirty-eight persons attended the dinner, including Mayor Robert P. White who spoke as did Arthur Mallow, chairman of the Board of Water Commissioners and heads of the various city departments.  Only two department heads were unable to be present — City Engineer Floyd Usher and Louis Strunz, street superintendent.   WDT


Uncertain date




09 14       Plans for a proposed addition to the present garage at the city sewage treatment plant are due to be referred to the committee on public works at tonight’s meeting of the common council.  The plan calls for a 12 by 35 foot addition.  The council is also due to refer the purchase of the John Hesse property in North Fifth Street to the City Plan Commission.  The city has agreed to pay $10,000 for the property.  Mr. and Mrs. Hesse have notified the city they will accept the offer.   WDT



12 01       The board of water commissioners is expected to come before the common council shortly to present its plans for the proposed $160,000 construction facility at the city waterworks plant which is designed to eliminate rust from the city’s water supplies. The project has been under study for some time and preliminary discussions have been held with the council. The proposed plant will cost around $160,000. It is to be paid for through an increase in present city water rates.   WDT



1965, Western Ave, Luther Prep aerial view 



The city board of water commissioners today issued a report it will submit to the common council at its meeting next week detailing its plans for the construction of an iron removal plant, a subject which has been under discussion here for some time, dating back to 1958.  In its report the board traces the history of the plan and the procedures taken to date.   WDT


02 27       Three outside firms entered the low bids for construction of Watertown’s water rust removal plant and the next step is now up to the common council to provide for the financing of the facility, with a total requirement of $150,000 which will include the fee for Donahue & Associates, Inc., of Sheboygan which has long served as consultants for the city’s waterworks department.   WDT


04 17       Work was started today on the construction of the city’s new rust removal facility at the waterworks plant.  Ground was broken for the pipes and other underground installations, Charles O. Teggatz, superintendent, announced.  The general contractor expects to complete his work within 75 days after actual construction on the building begins.  Construction of the plant was approved by the common council several weeks ago after long and detailed study.   WDT



Plans for a new 300,000 gallon water tank to be erected on the site of “Water Tower Hill” which will be ready next July were announced last night.  Plans are to get the work underway this fall, starting with the huge base and foundation.  The project will cost some $75,000 according to bids that have been secured and which are to be acted on at tonight’s meeting of the common council.  It was disclosed that there are funds of $85,000 available for the project, money which has been put aside over a period of years.  WDT


-- --           DUE FOR REPLACEMENT-Watertown's old water tower on "Water Tower Hill," which has served city consumers since 1897, will be replaced next year with a new waterspheroid.  It will hold 300,000 gallons of water, as does the old tower.  So also does the city's west side water tank.  The new construction will be located just east of the present tower.  Contracts have been awarded to the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works for the waterspheroid on a bid of $64.800 and the A. W. Jeske Co. for construction of the base on a bid of $11,064.  Completion is expected next July.   WDT



March      NEW WATER TOWER UNDER CONSTRUCTION, alongside old tower,

A tall tower with a round tower

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The man who reads your water meter can now do his job without ever having to enter your home.  This dramatic change in meter-reading has been made possible by a new type of outdoor register that is now being installed in a number of residences served by the Watertown Water Department.  Located on the outside wall of a house, the "Reado-Matic" register is connected by a doorbell-type wiring to a meter inside the building.  A self-contained generator mounted on the meter sends out pulses which operate the totalizing counters on the outdoor readout.



Watertown’s old water tower, on Water Tower Hill, is coming down.  A huge crane is being used to demolish the structure.  The “sphere” which was completed earlier this year has replaced the old tower.  It holds 300,000 gallons of water.  The city water department also has a water sphere on the city’s west side (O’Connell St), also holding 300,000 gallons of water.    WDT






E. J. Dobbratz, 1400 Livsey Place, last night was named to the city board of water commissioners.  The term is for three years and will expire Nov. 1, 1970.  Mr. Dobbratz will replace Clark Derleth whose term is expiring.  The appointment was made by Mayor A. E. Bentzin at last night’s meeting of the common council and was confirmed by unanimous vote of the 12 aldermen present; two, Erich Nuernberg and Charles T. Yeomans being absent.   WDT




Low bids for Watertown's new sewage treatment plant total $6,831,516.30, but before any bids are accepted, they will be studied by city officials and representatives of Consoer, Townsend and Associates, consulting engineers who have been contracted by the city for the project. 


The next step in the procedure to award the contracts will be the study of each bid.  Ed Bennett, city engineer, said at noon today that the bids will then be presented to the Watertown City Council.



04 20       City well No. 7 opened.  Located on West St   WDT


12 18       New city water tower; bids for 1985 construction of, on West Rd   WDT



01 13       500,000 gallon water tower on West Rd, bid accepted   WDT


02 03       Pumping capacity of city's wells could be exhausted   WDT


03 25       Well water meets health standards   WDT


11 02       Watertown should begin to set aside the full allotment for wastewater treatment or it may find itself in a severe financial crunch if a key piece of equipment breaks down.  That's the feeling of the administrators of the facility, who have proposed a 1986 plant operating budget of $1,433,029, nearly $300,000 more than $1,153,726 budgeted this year.  The proposal includes a reserve account of $300,000 to cover depreciation of parts governed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Last year at budget time, the Common Council agreed to set aside $175,000 for (EPA) replacement parts.   WDT



01 12       Watertown should develop a long-range facilities plan on its wastewater treatment plant so that it can adjust and handle the increase flow from a potential new industry.  The Public Works Committee recommended the Green Bay engineering firm Robert E. Lee and Associates formulate the plan at a cost of $51,600.  The money would come from a wastewater reserve account, required by the Environmental Protection Agency to fund repairs pertaining to plant depreciation.   WDT


09 27       Michael Olesen, superintendent of the Watertown Water Department, was presented with the Leon A. Smith Award by the Wisconsin section of the American Water Works Association at the organization’s 65th annual meeting held recently at Olympia Resort in Oconomowoc.  The award was given for distinguished service to the Wisconsin section of the American Water Works Association and for exceptional activity on behalf of the water works industry.  He has been superintendent of the Watertown plant for five years, moving here in 1981 from Elgin, Ill., where he was chief plant operator. He became employed as a summer laborer at the Elgin water plant in 1967 while in high school.  He became a full-time laborer, then full-time operator and was named chief plant operator in 1977.  WDT


12 19       After almost 40 years on the job Harold Graf has seen quite a few changes at the Watertown Water Department.  To be more exact Graf said he has worked for the department “39 years and 72 days.”  At the end of this year, Graf will retire from the department.  Graf is currently head of meter maintenance which includes installing, maintaining and testing water meters.  Graf began his career with the water department in 1946 as a general laborer.  He was hired to cut lawns, dig ditches and perform maintenance work.  Graf said, “When I was hired they told me I would be oiling and greasing motors and occasionally digging ditches, but they had that wrong.  I was digging ditches and occasionally oiling and greasing motors!”   WDT


12 29       Watertown would have to expand its wastewater treatment plant to the tune of $16.59 million if it wants the facility to operate 40 to 60 more years, a Green Bay engineering firm says.  Robert E. Lee & Associates, Inc., has submitted a facilities plan on the sewage plant to city officials and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for their approval.  A facilities plan is required by the DNR prior to the expansion of any wastewater treatment plant.   WDT



04 11       Despite recent warnings about the lead content in drinking water nationwide, Watertown residents should not be alarmed about the safety of the city’s water supply, according to Michael Olesen, manager of the municipal water utility.  “We’re in good shape as far as the water quality and lead content,” Olesen said.  “We’re well below the recommended levels.” According to tests conducted by the state in February, 15 city homes had a lead content of less than 3 parts per million each.  The current federal standards limit the amount of lead to 50 ppb, although the Environmental Protection Agency is considering lowering the standard to 20 ppb.   WDT



04 11       Should the city’s water commission be abolished?  That question was posed by Mayor David R. Lenz at a meeting before the water commission on Monday.  The mayor said he wants to look into the possibility to see if the idea can help save money for the city, noting that several municipalities, including Oconomowoc, have eliminated their water commissions.  “When you hear that a number of cities have done the same thing, you wonder, ‘What’s the benefit?’” Lenz said.  “It’s just a matter we want to investigate to see if it’s worthwhile.”  The five-member commission oversees the operations of the city’s water utility, which is considered a separate department from other city agencies.  As a commission, the panel operates the utility without direct oversight from the Watertown Common Council.   WDT



10 01       Due to federal regulations, the Watertown Water Department will begin a public education program concerning lead levels in drinking water. The action was ordered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency because lead levels exceeded the limits set in the 1986 Safe Water Drinking Act during testing of a sample of Watertown homes earlier this year. The city tested 60 homes as required by federal law -- 30 with lead services coming into homes and 30 with internal fixtures that were installed with lead solder. The homes were tested twice, once in June 1992 and again in January 1993.   WDT




The Watertown Water Commission later this month is expected to finalize the purchase of approximately 7.34 acres of the Robert Stangler farm from the Watertown Unified School District, paving the way for construction of a new water tower, two new wells and water filtration watch system.  The total cost of the project is estimated at about $1.7 million plus about $700,000 in water mains from the site for connection to the city's water system.  When the district acquired the Stangler farm in 1987 as the site for the new high the water department reached school, the agreement that it could purchase some land at the crest of the hill at a later date.  The land is a 250-foot-wide strip of land on the south border of the Stangler farm.  It travels east and west along the entire 1,287-foot length of the farm.  The water tower would be constructed at the crest of the hill with the wells and the filtration plant below the crest.  Access to the property would be gained from the intersection of Allwardt Street and Hospital Drive.  A private roadway would allow easy access for the tower and related equipment.


05 13       The Watertown Water Commission will take a different approach to reduce the amount of lead in the city’s water supply — one that would not affect its color, taste or smell.  The commission this week voted to use a pH control system to meet federal lead standards.  The alternative under consideration had been the introduction of polyphosphates into the city’s water supply.  Both methods are designed to inhibit the leaching of lead from water pipes.  However, the commission has been concerned about the effect of polyphosphates on the city’s water supply, particularly in the taste and odor of the water.   WDT


06 15       The Watertown Water Commission is reviewing a potential rate increase of about 52 percent in water rates for 1995.  Consultant Virchow Krause & Co. presented preliminary information to the commission Monday regarding its rate case study for the water utility.  Manager Michael Olesen said the consultant’s study indicates that the utility’s projected needs in the near future would require a 52.44 percent increase in water rates next year.  The utility expects to need additional funding to pay for various major projects, building improvements, land purchases and salary increases.    WDT


08 03       The Watertown Common Council Tuesday authorized the issuance and sale of $3,845,000 in revenue bonds on behalf of the city’s water system.  Several aldermen opposed the resolution because the utility has proposed a rate increase of about 70 percent to pay back the 15-year bonds.  Overall, $5 million in improvements are planned for the water system.  “I find it hard to believe that we’re going to increase 60 to 70 percent,” said Alderman Ronald Krueger.  “I find it hard to take.”   WDT



03 01       Checkerboard-painted water tower, refurbishing of   WDT


09 22       Improvements to Watertown’s wastewater treatment system are expected to cost $32.7 million, according to a report by Applied Technologies, a consulting firm hired by the city.  This is slightly less than an initial estimate of $34 million.  The study was reviewed by the public works committee of the Watertown Common Council Tuesday evening and is being recommended for full council approval.  In February the city paid Applied Technologies $86,000 to study the current plant.  If authorized by the council, the study would be sent to the state’s Department of Natural Resources for review.  WDT



05 14       Projects Valued at $2.5 million.  Maas Bros. Construction, contracted by the water department, was issued permits for an $830,000 building and pumping equipment for operation of a new well at 137 Hospital Drive.  The company also was issued a permit for construction of a new water treatment building for iron removal and pump equipment for a new well at 1000 West St.  That project is valued at an estimated $1.7 million.  WDT


05 31       A new water treatment facility, several well expansions, water studies and 21 years later, Mike Olesen is resigning as the city’s water superintendent.  Olesen has accepted a position with Utilities Service Corp. of Georgia to serve as a representative for Wisconsin.  The Water Commission accepted his resignation in a closed session meeting Monday night.  While Olesen’s last day will be June 14, he will be available on an as-needed basis until Dec. 31.  In his new position, Olesen will provide service to water utilities to help maintain elevated and ground storage water tanks. He was offered the position May 22.  WDT



06 01       A resolution approving a $23.6 million agreement with Miron Construction, Inc., of Neenah, to complete construction of facilities at Watertown’s wastewater treatment plant was unanimously approved by members of Watertown’s Common Council.  Miron was one of three bids received by the city for the project which all fell below engineering estimates of $25 million.  Other bidders were C.D. Smith Construction of Fond du Lac, $23.9 million, and J.H. Findorff & Sons of Madison, $24.9 million.  WDT


07 26       The possibility of combining the water and wastewater operations in the city was discussed by the Public Works Committee Tuesday, as Mayor John David continued his efforts to have the city consider the change.  David’s presentation to the Public Works Committee came on the heels of an appearance before the Watertown Water Commission on Monday to suggest the possibility of merging the utilities into one department.  In combining the two, David said the new department would be run like the wastewater treatment utility, which is controlled by the Public Works Committee of the Watertown City Council.  The ultimate control of the department would then be with the council.  WDT


07 28       Work on the city’s new wastewater treatment facility continues as key elements to the $26 million project begin to take shape.  A hole for the foundation of the 4.5 acre facility off Hoffmann Drive was dug by Miron Construction crews, and Advance Construction workers laid concrete-encased, 48-inch pipe under the Rock River bed this morning.  The sanitary sewer line will extend the new interceptor up Omena and Utah streets toward the present site of the Highland lift station.  The entire project, when completed in 2004, will increase the city’s wastewater treatment capabilities for anticipated growth over the next 20 years.  WDT


08 27       A resolution calling for the city to borrow $18 million in taxable bond notes to help finance improvements to the wastewater treatment plant will be presented to the Watertown Common Council Tuesday night. Estimated cost of the plant is $32 million, of which $29 million will be borrowed and $3 million in cash will be used to pay for the facility. When the city borrowed $7 million in bank-qualified notes earlier this year to cover municipal building and street project expenses and it was found funding for the treatment plant through the Clean Water Fund counted toward the city’s debt limit, the city exceeded the $10 million borrowing limit.  WDT


09 04       A series of ordinances clearing the way for a merger of the water and wastewater departments were approved by the Watertown Common Council on Tuesday.  The ordinances, on their first reading before the council, will become effective after passing a second reading at the next meeting, Sept. 17.  Included in the plan to merge the departments under the leadership of current wastewater Superintendent Paul Lange, the water commission will be dissolved.  The new department would be run like the wastewater utility, controlled by the Public Works Commission. Currently, the five-member water commission sets the budget and controls funds.  Under a combined department, funds would be controlled by the city.   WDT


09 28       Bids for various types of work on the northeast treatment plant expansion were approved by the Water Commission Monday night.  According to Bill Kwapil, commission president, cost for the project was budgeted at $1.1 million with bids coming in at $1 million.  “We’re starting today getting the necessary permits and if everything goes according to plan, we can expect completion in June,” Kwapil said.  The existing plant, located off Hospital Drive, was constructed in 1996 to serve city well number eight.  However, since then an additional well has been built and is also currently served by the facility.  The new addition, to be built north of the existing structure, would increase filtration and cleaning capacities.   WDT


11 09       A $940,000 addition to Watertown’s northeast water treatment plant topped October’s building permit list.  The existing plant, located off Hospital Drive, was constructed in 1996 to serve city well number eight.  However, since then an additional well has been built and is also currently served by the facility.  The new addition, to be built north of the existing structure, would increase filtration and cleaning capacities.  Maas Brothers Construction Co. is manager of the project.   WDT



09 23       The largest construction project in the history of Watertown is nearing completion.  A state-of-the-art $24 million wastewater treatment plant will go on-line Monday.  “There’s no shutoff valve when the new system transfers over,” Paul Lange, water systems manager, joked.  “Once we open the gates there’s no going back.”  The new plant features five pumps which have a combined pumping capacity of 24 million gallons of water over a 24 hour period.  The computerized pumps are rotated on a daily basis.  Current pumping capacity is a little over 12 million gallons during peak flow, Lange said.  On average, the plant treats 3.5 million gallons a day.  However, dry weather has lowered those numbers slightly to 3 million.  WDT



05 22       Employees of the Watertown water and wastewater departments have voted to form a union and have subsequently joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council No. 40.  After the employees voted 11 to 7 to form a union, they proposed joining AFSCMb but the city protested, saying the Teamsters, which represents the street department as well as the park, recreation and forestry department employees, would be more appropriate.  However an arbitrator ruled the work of the water and wastewater department employees is different enough from the street and park and recreation employees that a separate union could be formed.    WDT


05 23       Residents will get the opportunity to sample free bottled Watertown water at the wastewater treatment plant s open house on June 11 from noon to 4 p.m.  Water and Wastewater Director Paul Lange was authorized by the Watertown Common Council May 17 to bottle 500 gallons of Watertown drinking water to help promote the city.  Lange said the 20 ounce bottles will have a private city label which looks similar to the Riverfest logo.  He added the 500 gallons of city drinking water will be bottled in a plant in Shawano.  “We wanted to get the bottling done locally but our order was much too small for them to do the job, Lange said.   WDT


06 08       Residents will get a chance this weekend to view firsthand the largest building project ever recorded in Watertown.  An open house has been scheduled at the new $24 million wastewater treatment plant, 800 Hoffmann Drive, on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.  The ceremony will kick off with a ribbon cutting at noon, followed by self-guided tours of the whole facility.  A wastewater plant employee will be at each of the new buildings to give information to those attending.  Refreshments will be provided as well as 20-ounce bottles of Watertown’s very own bottled drinking water.  Wastewater treatment plant manager Paul Lange said construction of the new facility started in June 2002 and was completed in November of last year.    WDTimes article  


09 17       The Watertown wastewater treatment plant, the volunteer cooperative weather observer for the city, has been honored with a 25 Year Length of Service Award by the National Weather Service.  Designed as a cooperative and climatological weather station, the treatment plant has observed and reported daily maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation and snowfall data to the National Weather Service at 8 a.m. for the past 25 years.  Data that is gathered by the Watertown plant is sent to the National Climatic Center in Asheville, N.C., where it is published and archived.  Nearly every business, commerce, utility and agriculture concern in the Watertown area uses the climate data collected by the treatment plant on a daily basis.    WDT




Watertown Water Department employee Mike English has retired after serving the city for almost 24 years.  English started working with the city’s water department in July 1984 as a member of the distribution crew, and after eight years he was promoted to plant operator, a position he held until his retirement today.  Born in Albert Lea, Minn., English graduated from Jefferson High School in 1964 and spent six years in the Navy as a radio communicator.  He has lived in Watertown for 32 years.    WDT




The city is in the process of installing new water meters at Watertown homes to make the reading process more efficient and less costly.  According to Water Systems Manager Paul Lange, the water department currently sends out workers to manually read water meters and that information gets downloaded at the wastewater treatment plant at the end of the day.  The water department is now installing new meters with transmitters that will automatically send the information back to the wastewater treatment plant.




Work at the First Street location includes demolition of the old facility and the construction of a new water treatment plant with a capacity of 6 million gallons per day.  The facility will contain four new pressure vessels that filter out iron and manganese along with three new high lift pumps.  The plant's rusty pipes and aging electrical systems will also be replaced.  New chemical feed systems will also be installed and outdated Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) panels will be replaced.    WDTimes article.  



-- --           CANOPY COMPARISON, 1955 vs. 2016





Site preparation for a new water treatment plant at 806 S. First St.


The multi-million-dollar upgrade to the city’s central water plant marks the last days for several buildings on South First Street, some of which are over a century old.  Parts of the plant’s pump and administration building date back to 1895, and several components are not up to code including restrooms and electrical access. The reliability of the filter basins which range from 35 to 50 years old has also been diminished, requiring them to be taken out of service for emergency repairs.


The majority of the work for the project will be done at the central water treatment plant at 806 S. First St. as well as the water maintenance building at 800 Hoffmann Drive.  The work at the First Street location includes demolition of the old facility and the construction of a new water treatment plant


The site has two of the city’s wells, with a third one across the river and a fourth just a few blocks east on the south side of Western Avenue.  For many years that Western Avenue site had a stream of water flowing from it 24 hours a day.


The street department property included a since-razed building with offices for Wisconsin Natural Gas Company.  A large, round, natural gas storage tank was on the property; the roof of the tank would rise and fall, depending on the amount of gas being contained inside.  A large water storage reservoir was on the property, having been covered with a roof.  That was the large round tank at the west end of Western Avenue and was somewhat of a landmark for the water department.    WDTimes article.  








Applied Technologies, Inc. announced that its historic water treatment plant project for the city of Watertown will be receiving an Engineering Excellence State Finalist Award in the water resources category.  The submission, titled “New Water Treatment Plant: Preparing for the Future, Preserving the Past,” was selected because it “exemplifies the skill and creativity of the engineering discipline.”


The Watertown wastewater treatment plant had been an integral part of the city’s water infrastructure for over 120 years, treating half of the city’s water supply.  Its historic Well No. 1 and water department building were constructed with the brick and rubble from an old Rock River mill in 1896.  Upgrades were made throughout the ensuing decades to add iron removal filters and increase filtration capacity.


Time had taken its toll on the wastewater treatment plant.  The facilities were in poor condition, energy inefficient, insufficient to meet operational needs and violated various current code requirements.  In addition, the plant was incapable of meeting the projected year 2035 population water supply needs.


The Watertown Historical Society initially questioned the city’s desire to demolish the Central WTP building. However, an archaeologist determined that modifications made to the building throughout the years had reduced its historical value. The water department and historical society reached a compromise: several historical architectural appurtenances would remain untouched, the new building’s design would honor the old building, Well No. 1 remains intact and several historically significant items were saved for curation.  The decision was made to construct a new water maintenance building on the city’s large wastewater treatment plant site.  The 15,200-square-foot pre-engineered metal building was designed to match the existing plant buildings and includes features such as vehicle storage bays, offices, a locker room and parts storage.


The new 8,000-squarefoot wastewater treatment plant filter building was loosely designed to mimic the rooflines of the nearby Watertown Senior and Community Center and park and recreation department.




Council Proceedings: Res. Exh. #8849, to authorize an agreement with Butters-Fetting Co. to replace the Wastewater Plant Anaerobic Digester Boiler was presented.  Carried by roll call vote: Yes-9; No-0.




The Watertown Common Council approved a resolution to purchase 172 acres of land for $1.9 million from Bethesda Lutheran of Watertown near the city’s wastewater utility for possible future expansion of the plant.  The wastewater utility determined that the acquisition of this real estate would serve to help with future wastewater treatment discharge permit limits and potential future wastewater utility operation needs that have yet to be determined.





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin