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West Ashley Flashback — The History of Our Water (part 2 of 4)

Recalling the completion of the water main from the peninsula to St. Andrew’s Parish

P. L. Bootle was one of the Commissioners of the St. Andrews Parish Fire and Water District. He addition to helping bring water to the Parish he also brought barbecue. (Photograph courtesy of Ina Bootle)P. L. Bootle was one of the Commissioners of the St. Andrews Parish Fire and Water District. He addition to helping bring water to the Parish he also brought barbecue. (Photograph courtesy of Ina Bootle)

February 8, 2018
By Donna Jacobs | Contributing Writer

In the 1939 edition of The Year Book Charleston S.C., which is a record of the annual official business of the city of Charleston, under the section entitled “Water Works Improvements and Extension” the following short description of this initiative was recorded:

“St. Andrew’s Parish-Windermere Development:

A number of conferences were had with Senator C. P. Means and Representative I. D. Peek of the County Delegation, and with Colonel A. G. Goodwyn and Mr. P. L. Bootle, Commissioners of St. Andrews Parish Fire and Water District, relative to supply of water across the Ashley River to the suburban developments in St. Andrew’s Parish known as Windermere, Ashley Forest, Wappoo Heights, The Crescent, Carolina Terrace, and a number of engineering estimates and plans were prepared but to date no definite action has been taken looking to the actual construction. It will require the crossing of the Ashley River somewhere in the vicinity of the Ashley River Bridge at Spring Street, requiring approximately one mile of main, of which 2100 feet will be in the river channel and none of which will be revenue producing.”

These leaders of the new suburban community were engaging in that forward thinking required for future development and once again water was the important subject on the table. The March 4, 1939 issue of The Charleston Evening Post reported:

“The Windermere Water and Sewer district which would be created by another of the bills introduced by Senator Means would set this district up as ‘a body politic and corporate’ the district to be governed by a commission composed of six citizens to be appointed by the governor upon recommendation of the county legislative delegation and to serve without pay.” Five months later in the Aug. 4, 1939 issue of The Charleston Evening Post an article read:

“The newly formed St. Andrew’s Water and Fire District Commission scheduled to meet on August 10.  Colonel A.G. Goodwyn, U.S.A retired was elected chairman, J.P. Bailey named secretary and P.L. Bootle was the third member.  Residents of Wappoo Heights, Windermere, Ashley Forest, Carolina Terrace, and The Crescent were invited to this meeting.”

Each year for the next four years there was a recording of progress, albeit sometimes small, in The Year Book Charleston S.C. with regular updates appearing in The Charleston Evening Post. The 1940 edition stated: “The question of water supply to the St. Andrew’s Parish just west of the Ashley River continues to remain active, and it now seems probable that during 1941 we will be called upon to extend mains across the river to supply this fast growing development in which case this proposed elevated tank will be a very desirable improvement.” There was a previous discussion of the construction of a new water tank on the western side of the peninsula to increase the city’s storage capacity.

The community of St. Andrew’s Parish had been busy on the subject of water during 1940. A community club held an organizational meeting in May of 1940 as a forum for discussion of civic matters, particularly connecting with Charleston’s water system. It was decided to appoint a feasibility committee for review of this matter.  In addition the St. Andrew’s Water and Fire District Commission actively worked on a financial plan for the project and set up a bond referendum for September 27, 1940. The figures were published in the September 20, 1940 issue of The Charleston Evening Post in order to best inform the electorate prior to the referendum. The qualified voters in the district could cast their decision at the office of Magistrate Henry Struhs. 76 people voted on this bond issue. 51 voters cast the approving votes to issue a bond of approximately $40,000.

Now that the residents were financially dedicated to the matter, it was time for procedural and legislative action to empower the local commission with the ability “to contract with the commissioners of public works of the city of Charleston for the construction of …the fire or water system in said district”.  St. Andrew’s Parish needed to round up financing and the city would build, operate and maintain the new connection. Next was legislation that authorized the county board of commissioners to loan up to $25,000 to the St. Andrew’s Fire and Water district for the project. Permission was requested from the war department for the placing of the water main in the navigable waters of the Ashley River.

Details of the proposed water main began to emerge in the press. “James E. Gibson, waterworks engineer, today estimated that the main, which will be of extra strength cast iron and have ball and socket joints to permit flexibility, will have a capacity of a million gallons a 24-hour day, or provide sufficient water for normal use of around 20,000 persons, and also permit fire protection.”

This is the second of a series of installments on how water was brought to St. Andrew’s Parish. Do you have any water stories? Contact Donna Jacobs at westashleybook@gmail.com.

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