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Posted on: October 13, 2017

Historical Marker Placed On Marion Square


The Charleston Water System (CWS) placed a South Carolina Historical Marker on Marion Square in downtown Charleston October 12 to commemorate the nearby 6-inch diameter, 1,970-feet deep artesian well that became Charleston’s first public water supply in 1879 and served as the primary water source for 24 years. The marker, as well as other commemorative events and dedications, coincide with the utility’s 100th year of service. Founded in 1917, CWS is an independent utility governed by an elected Board of Commissioners that provides drinking water to more than 400,000 people in the greater Charleston area and sewer service to more than 180,000 people.

The marker, part of the South Carolina Historical Marker Program, is located along Calhoun Street, near its intersection with King Street. Its design mirrors the other markers in Marion Square, rising seven feet tall and featuring double-sided text referencing the benefits of the well that yielded 700,000 gallons of artesian water per day, which was considered a very impressive amount in its day.

"We’re proud to honor this engineering marvel created by our forefathers who knew that a safe, reliable drinking water source was crucial to the health and prosperity of the Charleston area," said Kin Hill, CEO at CWS. "Our centenary is a fitting occasion to highlight the importance of this historical structure and the value of water, as well as an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to public health and our mission."

The artesian well was excavated, capped and secured in a permanently-accessible vault September 27.

"Continuous access to the well allows entities such as the United States Geological Survey, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to study aquifer water levels and other parameters that may be of interest in the future," said Hill.

CWS also embedded a plaque in the sidewalk on Broad Street, near its intersection with Orange Street to commemorate its adjacent Golden Hydrant, which is one of the CWS’s oldest hydrants still in active service. The Golden Hydrant is meant to illustrate CWS longevity and the utility’s role in Charleston’s growth and fire protection services.

"To be part of this community for 100 years is extremely gratifying and humbling," said Hill. "We are also thankful for a century of unwavering support from the City, its community members, and our Commissioners. That support drives our passionate team and will help us provide clean water services of exceptional quality and value for the next 100 years."

Historical marker text:
Charleston Public Water System
In 1823, after learning of London’s success with artesian wells, City Council agreed that deep artesian wells would be feasible for the city and its growing population. Several pilot projects followed and in 1879 a 1,970-feet deep well was drilled near this site. With an impressive 700,000 gallons per day yield, it is reported to be the first successful artesian supply in the region.

The artesian supply was Charleston’s primary water source until 1903 when a franchise was granted to Charleston Light and Water Co. to take over the city system and construct a new plant and reservoir by damming Goose Creek. In 1917, the city acquired the plant and properties, forming the Commissioners of Public Works, now Charleston Water System, to manage and operate the city water system.

Golden Hydrant plaque text:
This hydrant commemorates the 100th Year Anniversary of the existence of the Commissioners of Public Works (CPW) of the City of Charleston (a public water and wastewater utility) and its duration of service to customers and communities throughout the surrounding tri-county areas.

The Golden Hydrant is one of the oldest hydrants in the Water Distribution System that is still in active service today and stands ready to provide protection to the residence and historical structures located along the Broad Street Corridor, which borders multiple districts (South of Broad, Harleston Village and the French Quarter) of the Lower Charleston Peninsula.

This particular hydrant was chosen not only to serve as a visual depiction of CPW’s longevity in support of this great city and its people, but more importantly, to represent CPW’s overall commitment to provide continued services of exceptional quality and value in the interest of protecting public health and the environment.

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