The history of the Yarmouth Water District is inextricably linked with that of the town itself. In the beginning the town’s primary concern was fire protection, which spurred funding for two municipal cisterns in 1888. Six years later, with pressing concerns over typhoid and other diseases, the Yarmouth Water Company was established to provide water and sewage systems.
The company sourced its water from Hammond Spring, located on property owned and pumped by the Forest Paper Company. In addition, a .25 million gallon elevated tank was also erected off West Elm Street (replaced in 1964 with a million gallon standpipe). In 1905 impelled by increased demand, the company acquired Hayes Spring in North Yarmouth.
The Yarmouth Water District was chartered by the state in 1923. Ownership of Hammond Spring transferred to YWD from Forest Paper, which had discontinued operations. A building was constructed on East Elm Street; it would house the pumping facilities and offices for the next 89 years.
In 1947, concerns over the quantity and quality of water from surface supplies, prompted the District to purchase an additional supply off the Baston Road in North Yarmouth, site of the Stevens Well. The Reinsborough Well was drilled at an adjacent location in 1999 to serve as a back up source.
Central Maine Power’s Wyman Steam Generation Plant went online in 1957. To meet the increased demand, the YWD drilled its second well, Estabrook Well. Other upgrades and additions at the time included, a .5 million gallon standpipe, constructed off East Main Street and the 2,400-foot underwater crossing between the mainland and Cousins Island.
Yarmouth and Portland: A Unique and Beneficial Relationship
CMP expanded the Wyman plant in 1977. With demand expected to exceed the safe yield of YWD sources at that time, the District forged an agreement with the Portland Water District, in which the PWD would supply water to Cousins Island.
The ongoing relationship between the two water districts has given Yarmouth a redundant, independent supply source for its customers. To a lesser degree, the YWD provides a back up source to the Portland Water District’s Cumberland Foreside customers.
Yarmouth and North Yarmouth Water Districts Merge
In 1986, the YWD drilled its third well at the original Hayes Spring site, again in response to increased demand. Four years later, the District merged with the North Yarmouth Water District at its request, pledging to reduce metered water rates, upgrade the infrastructure, and to serve NYWD customers with water produced from North Yarmouth.
Long Range Planning and Sustainability
The first Yarmouth Water District Long Range Plan was completed in 1991 by E.C. Jordan. The plan was updated in 1996 by EarthTech, and again in 2006 by Wright-Pierce.
In 2010 the board of trustees adopted the Yarmouth Water District Sustainability Action Plan. The following year, the District was honored with the Utility of the Year Award in the small utility category by the New England Water Works Association. With an eye to future needs, two surplus groundwater supplies in Cumberland were purchased from the Portland Water District in 2011.
By 2012, the District had long outgrown the 1923 building on East Elm. That year it moved into the new LEED-certified office and shop on Sligo Road. The old building was repurposed to become the new home of the Yarmouth Historical Society.
Visit the new building and you’ll find a collection of historical documents, photos and artifacts in the lobby.