History of the Thomasville Water System

Water service for the City of Thomasville received its first impetus when on April 29, 1882, the Thomas County Grand Jury recommended that the Board of County Commissioners cooperate with the City Council in digging a well, the County and City each to bear half the expenses.  Agreement was soon reached, machinery purchased, and at 11:00 a.m. on July 28, 1882, work began.  The site selected for the well was the northeast corner of the Courthouse Square.

Beset by many difficulties, both mechanical and financial, the drilling continued for almost two years, reaching a depth of 1,800 feet.  During this period, they expected to strike a stream which would flow from the top of the ground without pumping.  In May 1884, it was decided to install a pump in the well.  This was completed and on June 7, 1884, the first water was pumped for the City.  The Thomasville Times of that date stated, “It was soon demonstrated that the supply was inexhaustible.  For eight hours a bold and crystal stream spouted from the casing at the rate of 50 gallons per minute.”  And again on August 30, “Crowds with pitchers, jugs, buckets, bottles, etc., gathered every afternoon at the well.”

In September 1884, a small pipe was run down Broad Street to a point (Broad & Jackson and the Post Office) where it could be more conveniently utilized, both for drinking purposes and stock.  By September 1885 some stores had water connections.

The first Bond Issue for the expansion of the water works was held August 7, 1886.  The issue was $415,000 with interest at 5% for 30 years.  This money was to be used for the digging of a second well and erection of an elevated tank.

The second well was completed in June 1887 and in August 1887 a contract was awarded for the erection of the elevated tank.  Work began on the brick tower in early October and by December it was 60 feet high.  When the tower reached 70 feet, the foundation gave way and the center section fell, killing three men, injuring four, and leaving four others clinging to the portion of the tower still standing.  These were rescued without injury.

In January 1888, it was decided to erect a standpipe on the City Hall Park.  By June 1888, (four years after the first water was pumped) the City had completed its first storage reservoir (standpipe) and water mains of sufficient size to furnish fire protection to the downtown area.

In 1906, the City purchased the Electric System and the Water Department was combined with the Electric.  All new pumps installed and wells dug after that time were placed in the power plant area on Fletcher Street.  Soon the wells on the courthouse Square were abandoned and sealed.

In 1931, Thomasville built the first water softening plant in the state.

In 1948, a test well was dug to a depth of 1,635 feet in an effort to obtain softer water.  Water was obtained at this depth, but it was about the saltiness of sea water – containing 20,000 parts of sodium chloride and 12,000 parts of sodium sulphate.  This being unusable, it was sealed off and a new well drilled to the 400 foot level.

Over the years additional pumps and wells were added as required – the last well dug was in 1980.

The old standpipe behind City Hall was abandoned in the late 1920’s.  We now have three storage tanks for water: (#1) a 300,000 gallon elevated steel tank, built in 1930, located on the southside of West Jefferson Street, (#2) a 500,000 gallon elevated steel tank, built in 1951, located on the westside of Bennett Street and (#3) a 500,000 gallon elevated steel tank, built in 1973, located at the Fairgrounds on Pavo Road.

The present Water Treatment Plant and Pumping Station was authorized by the City Commission in 1962, and completed early in 1964.  The Treatment Plant capacity is 6,000,000 gallons per day.

In 1984, the Water Treatment Plant had additions of a CO2 Flash Mixer and a Split Treatment Tank.  These two units were added in order to provide better control of the softening of the water.

In 1986, the softening part of the Water Plant was shut down in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Division’s Georgia Water Quality Control Act.