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A LOOK BACK: Bringing Water Home

water-works

Pump house and reservoir about 1900.  The pump house was sold in 1950 and reservoir drained. 

By Derek M. Otto

Recently, in the news we learned that century-old water mains in Erie County were in need of replacement. The cost is astronomical and the Erie County Water Authority is struggling with a master plan for the tough job ahead.

We are facing an aging water and sewer infrastructure in the north part of the Town of Concord.  Luckily, our town fathers have worked to be proactive over the years in an attempt to provide running water.

The earliest houses with running water were on East Hill on Main Street. The JP Meyers house and CJ Shuttleworth house were fed water through springs behind 105 East Main Street in the late 1870s and early 1880s.

According to Tonw Historian Dave Batterson, prior to the great fire of 1879, CJ Shuttleworth approached the town about  providing water mains on Main Street.  After the great fire, it was obvious that there was a need.

In 1887, Shuttleworth established a private water system.  The system was fed by several springs—at 16 Factory Street, at 105 and 108 Main Street and another one on Spring Street.  The springs were connected with a gravity wood line, which carried the water down Main Street, down Pearl Street and under Shuttleworth Pond to a reservoir on Buffalo Street.

A pumping station was built and later an artisan well behind the reservoir also provided water.  As the need for water grew, the need for another reservoir was realized. The Eaton Spring on North Buffalo Street was dammed and water mains were run down Buffalo Street to the reservoir.

The village bought Shuttleworth’s water works in 1897 and then the Eaton Spring in 1906.  This early system of wooden mains and reservoirs was a success for a good number of years.   The reservoirs were kept clean and pure by fish that had been stocked in them for that purpose.  Yes fish, which eat toxic algae and keep the water clean.

In the 1920s, water woes plagued Springville; lawn hoses were prohibited and the need for more water was evident.   

In 1929, the Eaton Spring was polluted by a creek that ran north of it, causing the village to buy chlorinator to clean the water.  All this effort was temporary water; woes still caused water and pressure shortages.

In 1930, the village contracted with the Layne Water Company to drill a well on the athletic fields. (Today the well still stands in the middle of Ingerson Drive behind the High School.) At the time, the well was dug 150 feet deep.

In 1931, the village began bidding for the replacement of the water mains on Main Eaton Street and Carolina Street.  The lowest bid came in at $12,895 from the Barone Company of Batavia.  (Though an article from that time does not  mention the fact that the water tower was erected on Carolina Street in 1931— not sure if this was part of the $12,000 bid or just the water main work connecting the tower to the well.)

The new system worked. The new well system went into operation in July 1931.  The old system was kept as a backup supply.  However, the old wooden mains throughout the village could not hold up to the increased water pressure.

In the years that followed, 1932 to 1938, all the wooden mains in the village were replaced with iron water mains. Shut-off valves were also added so that water mains could be fixed without disturbing water service to the whole village.   

Modern fire hydrants were added to the water lines.  Springville had a modern water works, though the old wooden mains would be kept underground.

You would think that all the water woes would be solved by this time, yet in 1941, the Layne well began having issues when sand broke loose.   

Another well was dug in 1943 on North Central Avenue and in operation in 1944.

According to the 1962 History of Concord, the two-well system provided 1,300 gallons of water per minute and almost constant water levels year round.

The old reservoir system ended in 1950 when the Buffalo Street reservoir was drained and Eaton Spring was plugged.   The Eaton Spring is now the Trout Pond.   The machinery and pumps were sold; the building was first used as the Springville Manufacturing before being used by Springville Youth Incorporated.

As the village has grown,  advancements to our water system have been necessary and continuous.  The wastewater plant was opened in 1961; the water tower at Newman and North Streets was built in 1971.  Updates to the water mains have been continuous since the 1990s and the pumping station on North Central has recently been upgraded and renovated.

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