In 1810, an attempt to establish water-works was made by one Louis
Gleises. The new water-works were of a most primitive character. The
pipes were hollowed out of cypress logs, and the supply of water was
obtained from the river by slave labor, that is, a number of slaves
pumped the water into a large reservoir, from which it was distributed
through the hollow logs to such citizens as had subscribed. Necessarily, very few persons got their water supply in this way, a majority of them
depending upon cisterns or wells.|
In 1819, the New Orleans Water-Works Company was incorporated by the Legislature, with a capital of $120,000. The board met on December 19, with eleven directors, nine elected by the stockholders and two appointed by the mayor. Nothing, however, of any moment was done by this company.
In 1833, the Commercial Bank was established, with a capital of $3,000,- 000, its purpose being to establish water-works in New Orleans. The charter was to nm for thirty-five years, at the end of which time the city was authorized to purchase the works. The company was to furnish the city with water free of expense and with all the water it needed for the extinguishment of fires and for other public purposes. The new company did not fulfill all its obligations, and in 1848 an act of the Legislature had to be passed compelling it to do so, requiring it to keep all hydrants often, free of charge, for the purpose of washing the streets and gutters under a penalty of a forfeiture of its charter unless the company accepted the terms proposed by the State.
On the expiration of the charter of the company in 1869, the city utilized its right to buy in the water-works, issuing, for that purpose, bonds to the amount of the appraised value of the works, $1,300,000. The city then operated the works until 1877, but so badly that it was on default in the interest on its water-works bonds, as well as on the rest of its funded debt. It was thought best to surrender control and let the water-works pass into the hands of a private company. This was effected under an act of the Legislature of March 3, 1877, the bonds issued in 1860 for the purchase of the works being given in exchange for stock in the new company. Under this act, the New Orleans Water-Works Company was given a monopoly of the supply of water from the Mississippi River for fifty years.
The Algiers Water-Works and Electric Company was organized in 1895, and the mains were completed the following year. This company supplies the entire fifth municipal district of New Orleans with water, as well as illuminates it.
— STANDARD HISTORY OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT, By Norman Walker
MUNICIPAL AND MILITARY HISTORY
EDITED BY HENRY RIGHTOR
THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY CHICAGO, 1900
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