Three Rivers Water District
A Brief History of the Three Rivers Water Department
During the late 1800's, the Otis Company - a canvas and heavy textile manufacturing company, built a massive network of brick buildings to harness the water power from the headwaters of the Chicopee River in the village of Three Rivers. This company also erected many out buildings to support production as well as numerous residential tenements to house its workers.
They also built a system of pipelines that supplied its massive buildings and numerous other structures with steam for heat, natural gas for lighting and water for drinking and for fire fighting purposes. Two smaller private water systems also supplied limited drinking water to the Ruggles and Chenneyville residential areas of the village.
However, the Otis Company went out of business in 1939 and would no longer be able to provide water service to the residents. The two other private water companies, whose supplies came from springs on Baptist Hill, would not be able to supply an adequate volume of drinking water for the growing village. Also, they would not be able to supply the large volumes of water necessary to protect the village from fires.
Therefore in 1943, with no other recourse, the residents of the village petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature to establish a public drinking water system as part of the already existing Three Rivers Fire District.
This newly created public entity's first order of business was to elect a Board of Water Commissioners. The District then assumed all the pipelines assets of the mills and bought out the rights of the two private companies. With innovative long term financing, the District was able to make significant pipeline improvements, purchase properties, drill new wells and erect massive water storage facilities. All these improvements were paid by establishing fair rates for metered water use.
The system still operates as an autonomous service district within the Town of Palmer and continues to provide fresh, reliable drinking water to its customers at reasonable rates. The District's drinking water was compared against water systems across the country and was judged "Best Tasting Drinking Water in America" in 2007.
The Three Rivers Fire District's Annual Meeting is held on the first Tuesday in May at the Three Rivers Fire Station. At this meeting, the District's fire and water operational budgets are publicly approved and District officials are elected. Additionally, the District holds monthly public meetings to make sure fire and water services are being adequately provided to its citizens.
In 2011, the Board of Water Commissioners positions were eliminated by a District By-law amendment and the elected governing body of the Water Department is now the District Prudential Committee. Their meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM at the Fire Station. An agenda is posted prior to each meeting and your attendance and comments are always welcome. A link to meeting agendas and minutes are posted on this website.
The District's performance is dependent upon your participation. Feel free to contact us at the above phone numbers if you have any questions or concerns.
Your elected Prudential Committee members include:
Stephen Chiacchia, Chairman