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OFFICE OF COCHITUATE WATER BOARD,
January 15, 1857.
Agreeably to the provisions of the City Ordinance, the Cochituate Water Board beg leave to make their Annual Report to the City Council ; together with the Reports of the City Engineer, the Water Registrar, and the Clerk of this Board. To these very full and detailed Reports, the Board would refer for much information in relation to the state of the works and of the water, and of operations and doings in regard to the same, during the last year.
The Board are happy in being able to state that all the works are in a satisfactory condition.
Ever since the Water Board was originally organized, there has been entertained a desire to dispose of all the property owned by the City and connected with the Water Works, but not needed for the purposes of use or security in regard to them. A large amount of land lying near the Lake and its outlet, and also distributed along the line of the conduit, having served all the purposes for which their several portions were purchased,
has been generally unproductive, while the taxes upon them and their fencing have been, of course, a burden without any equivalent. And so of the mill privileges owned by the city below the outlet ; they have produced little, if any thing, to the city, above the taxes and repairs.
Former Boards having failed to carry their often expressed intentions into effect, the present Board took the matter seriously in hand. They had surveys made of the different parcels that could be disposed of without detriment to the works, (always reserving ample means and rights for the use of the City); and during the season, at private sale, and at two different public sales, they disposed of lots embracing 145 acres, at prices varying from $19 to $550 per acre — making a total amount of $13,632.12. The result of this effort was highly satisfactory to the Board. There still remains a considerable amount unsold, embracing the upper mill privilege, which should and probably will engage the early attention of the next Board.
Among the parcels sold were those heretofore used for flowage, and constituting what was called the lower privilege. The dam, by which this privilege was formed, was the causeway constituting a public road or highway. At very high water, breaches had been made over this highway, by the current, and accidents more or less serious had occurred - one at least which, on trial, resulted in a judgment against the Town of Framingham, of about $400. This amount the said town called upon the City of Boston to pay, but the Board declined to pay it. At quite high water, the water in the lower privilege backed upon the wheels at the upper privilege,
and thus diminished its value. Considering, therefore, the possibility of disputes in future with the town of Framingham, as to who should keep the causeway in repair; and considering the fact that the factory at this privilege was burnt, and the upper privilege would be enhanced in value by its use being discontinued, the Board deemed it expedient to abolish this lower privilege, and sell the land for farming purposes, on the condition that no mills should ever be constructed on the stream passing through or by it. It is believed that the City realized more money for it on this condition, than could have been obtained for it as a mill privilege. Ample rights of flowage over these lands have been secured to the city, whether the same shall occur from accident or by design.
In addition to land sold in the neighborhood of the Lake or works, there has been sold wood to the amount of near $500, mostly growing on the five rods belonging to the City, bordering upon the water.
Besides these parcels of land near the Lake and line of aqueduct, the Board have disposed of Boon Pond and Ram's Horn Meadow, in the town of Stow. These were purchased with the view of forming a compensating reservoir, auxiliary to the Marlborough reservoir. But nothing has ever been done with them. They embraced about 130 acres, nearly or quite half covered with water. The City's property consisted mainly in rights of flowage; there being besides these only a narrow margin of woodland that could be regarded as of much value. It was deemed best, therefore, to dispose of the whole to Mr. Amory Maynard, (who owns a factory below,) for the sum of $1,674. Mr. Maynard can
add value to his mill privilege by exercising these rights of flowing, but the City could derive no benefit from them whatever.
Jamaica Pond, and the water works connected therewith, were purchased of the Boston Aqueduct Company, in 1851. The reasons for this purchase were: 1st, To be rid of rival water works. 2nd, To quiet claims already incurred by injury to their pipes, in laying down our pipes; and 3rd, To annul the privilege which that corporation possessed, of breaking up and injuring the streets, whenever and wherever they saw fit. The Board feel no hesitancy in expressing the belief that on all these accounts the purchase, at the price of $45,000, was a very favorable one to the city; and that a much larger benefit than the interest of that sum has annually accrued to the city from the purchase.
The object of the original charter of that corporation was to supply the City of Boston with water. It was somewhat loosely drawn; and it was not clear what rights or privileges of supplying other places were embraced in it. It gave no authority to break up pavements and injure highways, for the purposes of supply, except in Boston. Of late years there has been growing up in the Roxbury part of the Tremont road a somewhat dense population, which has applied for the use of the water; and the City of Boston has supplied it, without, however, attempting to exercise any right of opening streets, or laying service pipes, except along the line of the main pipe. This service, however, yielded a gradually increasing income, which in the last
year amounted to $2,624.64, — being near the interest of the cost of the purchase.