Watertown has an estimated population of 30,000. The city has several large manufacturing industries including the New York Air Brake Company and numerous paper mills. The area of the city is 8.56 square miles, located on Black River, with street elevations ranging from 375 to 600 feet above sea level. The business portion is practically level, at an elevation of 470 feet.

The water works system is municipally owned and was started in 1853. The new works were built in 1882. The works are under control of a board of water light and power commissioners, consisting of five members appointed by the Mayor one each year for a period of five years. The present members are S. R. Cleveland, president; V. K. Kellogg, H. E. Harmon, C. E. Kinnc and M. S. Wilder. The superintendent is John W. Phippen, who has held this position for 12 years. He is a member of the American Water Works Association. The water supply is taken from Black River, a swift stream with many water falls. Water is pumped by water power to distribution system, with two adjoining reservoirs as equalizers. The drainage area of Black River is approximately 1,900 square miles.

The pump house is located one and three quarters of a mile from the principal mercantile district, built in 1882, with an addition built in 1897. There has been no interruption on account of floods or extreme low water.

Dam and Settling Basin, Watertown.Reservoir No. 1.


A concrete dam reconstructed in 1918 across the river with top of dam at an elevation of 507 which forms a large coagulating basin. From a submerged intake crib about 7 feet below known low water a 36-inch line extends 180 feet to an outlet chamber in the dam from which a 30-inch castiron flow line extends along the river bank a distance of 3,500 feet to the filter plant.

Filter Plant

Supply from a 30-inch intake is treated at the filter house and flows into a covered coagulating basin west of the filter house, having a capacity of one million gallons, elevation high water 498; then flows to 12 rectangular concrete rapid sand filters, having a capacity of 9,000,000 gallons, located in a stone building 135 to 36 feet erected in 1904 with an addition in 1918. After filtration water passes through a 30-inch pipe into a covered clear water basin, 148 by 56 feet and 13 feet deep, with a capacity of about 800,000 gallons at elevation of 494, located north of the filter house and west of pumping station and thence is conveyed to the pumps through a 36-inch main. The clear water basin may be by-passed but the filter may not.

Mr. John C. Knowlton, a paper manufacturer, was president of the board for many years, retiring at the beginning of the present year because of ill health. The development of the system was largely due to his perseverance and great energy for a period of 40 years. It was largely through his instrumentality that the filtration plant was constructed, following a period of typhoid fever epidemic. Since that time there has been no trace of water contamination. His labors tvere consistently carried out year by year without any emoluments or monetary consideration, performed for purely civic pride.

The city of Watertown is now constructing a hydraulic power plant for the purpose of generating electricity for the use of the city. A portion of the work has already been completed.

Previous articleAmerican Water Works Abroad

No posts to display