Early water supply for fire protection consisted of wells with hand pumps to fill buckets which were passed along a line of men to the hand fire pumps. The empty buckets were then passed back by a second line to the source to be refilled. The fire pumps consisted of a rectangular box with levers on each side, which 3-4 men would raise and lower. This action would suck the water from the box and direct it through a fire hose and nozzle onto the fire.
In October of 1834, four wells were constructed for the use of the fire department and supplied with hand pumps. The locations of these hand pumps were at:
- North Sandusky and North (Central Ave.) Sts.
- N. Sandusky and Winter Streets
- Sandusky and William Streets
- at W. Winter and N. Washington Streets
An ordinance passed by the town council on March 29,1841 required each resident to furnish themselves with as many fire buckets as was deemed necessary. In his report on Feb. 1, 1869, the Fire Chief expressed concern over the scarcity of water for fire protection. Most depended on private wells and cisterns. There were only nine public fire cisterns, many of which were in poor condition. They were located at:
- North Sandusky and Central A venue North Sandusky and Winter Streets Sandusky and Williams Streets
- S. Sandusky and Third (Park Ave.) Streets N. Franklin and Griswold Streets
- W. Winter and North Washington Streets
- S. Washington and Hill (University Ave.) Streets E. Central Avenue and Lake Street.
By 1876 improvements were made in the system by adding six more cisterns for a total of 15 that contained 200-1200 barrels of water:
- William St. in front of City Hall
- Corner of Winter & Sandusky Sts.
- Front of Court House at N. Sandusky St.
- N. Sandusky St., in front of Carper Property
- N.E. Corner of Monnett Lot in intersection
- E. Central Ave., South of Big Four paint shop
- E. Winter St. North of East School
- Milo St. North of E. Central Avenue
- Railroad St. (Bernard Ave) and Liberty Sts.
- Sandusky and Park Ave.
- Webb and Chamberlain Sts.
- Oak and Channing Sts.
- Henry and E. William Sts.
- Washington and University Ave.
- Lincoln Ave. and N. Liberty St.
Dams placed on the Delaware Run made two reservoirs; one of these was on S. Washington Street 30×60 feet by 3 ft. deep, the other at S. Sandusky Street 25×30 ft. and 18″ deep. Additional flow could be provided for the one at South Sandusky Street by opening the dam at Washington Street. Another dam was placed on the Delaware Run at the Female College (Old Monnett Hall on Elizabeth Street). There were also dams on the river at Winter and William Street and a large wooden dam was north of Central Avenue near the present day Municipal Swimming Pool.
This form of water supply for fire protection remained until 1889 when the Delaware Water Co. (privately owned) was constructed by Moffett Hodgkins and Clark on the present site of the Municipal Water Plant. The water system consisted of 16 miles of cast-iron water mains and 206 fire hydrants. Water supply was obtained from a well sunk through gravel beds and into rock 20 feet in diameter and 25 feet deep. Later, a 16-inch test well was sunk near the large well through various rocks to a depth of 255 feet giving a natural flow of 65,000 gallons and an air compressor for forcing water from deep wells to the surface.
More wells were added and additional water mains had expanded to 24 miles by 1908. By 1923 demand caused the plant to cease using wells and to turn to the Olentangy River for supply. Water had to be treated necessitating the completion of a filtration and treatment plant. Steam driven pumps were used to provide the pressure to force the water to the City through one 16-inch supply line which then divided into various size lines throughout the city. In 1936 the City of Delaware purchased the Water Co. With the city’ s ownership the water supply began a slow but steady line of improvements resulting in greater fire protection for the citizens of Delaware.
The following significant events were listed in a brochure distributed at an open house held at the Water Plant in 1989:
1889– Plant and distribution system went on line
1889– Water standpipe was constructed on Rt. 23 south of plant
1923-24– Switched from wells to Olentangy River with treatment works constructed. 1936- City of Delaware purchased the Water Company.
1935-37– Water tower constructed at City Park behind the present fire station. 1950-51- Conversions from steam power to electric.
1960– New 16″ main constructed from plant to the city paralleling Euclid Avenue. 1965- Route 42 elevated storage tank (1 million gal.) constructed. 1974- 76 -Major plant reconstruction
1978– Route 36 and Route 37 elevated storage tank (1 million gal.) constructed.
1979-80– 16″ cross town connection added from east to west along Central Avenue. 1984 -Water tower at City Park demolished.
1987 -Pigging activity (cleaned old 16″ supply line from the water plant to the city.
Up ground reservoir to be constructed to hold 250,000,000 gallons of water.
One million gallon elevated storage tank to be constructed on the northwest side. Proposed 24 II transmission main to be constructed from the plant to the city.
Recent improvements to the system have included the replacement of many of the old fire hydrants, which were origina11889 hydrants, and the replacement of some old mains as well as the placement of mains on streets that never had large supply lines.
More than 800 fire hydrants are located within the city with more being installed with each new building development. Many industries place their own fire pumps within their plants to boost the pressure for sprinkler systems and some have additional ground storage supplies.
Delaware has made great strides in providing adequate water supply for both consumption and fire protection.