History of the Water System:
In 1859 the State Legislature approved "An Act To Incorporate The Elmira Water Company". The company was privately held with a start-up capital of $50,000. Seeley Creek and Hoffman Creek were the two water sources chosen to feed the then Village.
In October of 1868, the assets of the Elmira Water Company were purchased by George M. Diven and a new company named "Elmira Water Works Company" was established. The estimated value of the supply was $56,000.
The first consideration of a public purchase of the water system was in 1886. The Council debated a proposal to buy the Elmira Water Works Company from the Diven family for an estimated $400,000. This; however, did not happen and the Diven family remained in control until 1892 when its stock was purchased by the Elmira Improvement Company, which also owned the Elmira Heights Water Company.
Following the severe outbreak of typhoid fever in 1896, the Reservoir Street Filtration Plant was built in 1897. In November 1904, all of the utilities in the Elmira area were consolidated into the Elmira Water, Light, & Railroad Company (EWL&R) . Consumers in the City were not satisfied with the pace of improvements made by the EWL&R and the City’s Common Council and State of New York passed an Act in 1913 which established the Elmira Water Board.
It took until 1915 to reach an agreement to purchase the property of the EWL&R for $1,500,000. The water system became a public function on May 1, 1915. This purchase was funded with bonds issued by the City of Elmira; these bonds were paid off completely by the rate payers of the Elmira Water Board. In 1945, the last of the these bonds were satisfied. As a special aside, the City of Elmira has never contributed tax payer dollars to the operations of the Elmira Water Board. The Elmira Water Board has been totally self funded since its inception.
The Charter Governing The Water System:
Established by Chapter 660 of the Laws of 1913, the Elmira Water Board became a Department of the City of Elmira. The Charter governing the Board became law May 23, 1913, with the approval of the Governor and passed, three-fifths being present. In 1928, the first amendment to the 1913 Charter was passed by the New York Senate and Assembly. The Charter was again amended in 1950. The present Charter (in a scanned pdf format) is available for your review by clicking on the link below.