generally fell to local government. To this day, private provision of water supplies is common in many parts of the world, whereas wastewater treatment is seldom a responsibility of private enterprise. An exception is when private developers provide the service in connection with the construction of buildings and streets.


In 1755, Hans Christopher Christiansen instituted services for the first public water works in America at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1772, the state of Rhode Island chartered two private water delivery companies in Providence (Hudson Institute, 1999). New York City initially used private wells as its main water source. As the city grew, however, these wells became fouled. In 1799, New York State Assemblyman Aaron Burr (later U.S. vice-president) proposed legislation creating the Manhattan Company. Although this legislation was intended to provide a new source of water supply for the city, it also allowed for any unspent money to be used to create a bank. Burr’s main purpose was the creation of the Manhattan Bank, the forerunner of the Chase Manhattan Bank. The company pursued its banking interests, but it neglected its water-related responsibilities. It was only in 1842 that New York City officials, after considerable study, brought an ample supply of water to the city from the Croton River. This was one of the early large municipal water supply projects in the United States (Blake, 1956). Boxes 2-1 and 2-2 describe the development of water supply and treatment facilities for the cities of Baltimore and Boston, respectively.

During the mid-1880s, there was a growing recognition in Britain, Europe, and the United States that water was a vehicle for the spread of disease, particularly typhoid, as well as cholera. There was also a need to provide water for fighting fires, which ravaged many cities during the period. Local government investments in public water supply service therefore grew in size and number. By 1850, the number of public water supplies in the United States had increased to 83, of which 50 were privately owned (Carlisle, 1982). After the Civil War, U.S. population continued to increase, and the need to reduce diseases and to provide fire protection escalated. By 1866, there were 136 public water supplies in the United States (Hail and Dietrich, 2000). At the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of water systems in the United States had increased to over 3,000, with approximately equal numbers of public and private owners (Figure 2-1).

In the late 1800s, new water treatment methods, such as slow sand filtration and rapid filtration with chemical coagulation, had been developed and were being used in public water supplies (AWWA, 1951, 1981a,

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