Celebrate Our History
The origin of the Chester Water Authority dates all the way back to 1866 when an act of Assembly allowed the City of Chester to build a waterworks if the majority of property owners voted in favor of the act. The South Ward of the City was first to adopt the act and construction subsequently started on the South Ward Waterworks. On the evening of July 1, 1868, water from the Delaware River was pumped for the first time into a 1.5 million gallon reservoir located on Concord Road at Pusey Street in the City of Chester. The original pumping capacity was 800,000 gallons per day which provided water to 67 customers and the plant was located at the foot of Franklin Street on the banks of the Delaware River.
As a result of growing industrial and residential demand, the South Ward Waterworks was sold to the New Chester Water Company in 1885, which was an investor-owned utility. What followed was a period of tremendous growth and expansion with a customer base of 8,875 as the demand for water increased to 3.4 million gallons per day by 1911. In 1927, significant structural changes were made to the company and a new board changed the company’s name to the Chester Water Service Company. Company meetings were moved to Harrisburg and the principal office was subsequently moved to Wilkes-Barre for purposes of board meetings and similar business. Unfortunately, with continued growth and the ongoing deterioration of the water quality of the Delaware River, odor and taste complaints led for calls to find an alternative source of raw water. In 1939, the Chester Municipal Authority was created and it purchased all of the assets of the Chester Water Service Company which included the waterworks itself, 141 miles of water mains and 597 fire hydrants.
The next several decades would witness a significant level of capital expansion including additions to the Octoraro plant to increase the treatment capacity to 45 MGD and improve the taste and odor of the treated water during periods of poor raw water quality. Customer growth in western Delaware County and southern Chester County also required the construction of new facilities including multiple booster stations and storage facilities that would accommodate this increase in demand and growth. An aggressive capital improvement program and a constant commitment to investment in the infrastructure of the Chester Water Authority has resulted in the treatment and delivery of fresh, reliable water via 656 miles of distribution pipeline to over 42,000 customers that serves a population of approximately 200,000 persons. Today, CWA’s storage facilities can hold up to 106 million gallons of treated water, which is approximately three days average supply. CWA has come a long way since its origins in 1866 and its original base of 67 customers that required only 800,000 gallons per day.