When you turn on your faucet, water flows. But it wasn’t always that way in Kenmore.
How Kenmore’s water system developed from private wells to what we enjoy today. Excerpts from “Kenmore By the Lake, A Community History”
1922: Charlie Pearce, founder of the rhododendron nursery that is now Rhododendron Park, installed a well to service his nursery. He then developed a small water system to provide water to part of the lower Moorlands where some of his well-to-do Seattle friends had built summer homes.
1940: Kenmore was still a sparsely populated farming area. Everyone obtained water from wells, either individually, or through a small system such as the one established by Charlie Pearce. Lack of water for fire protection was a problem. The Bothell Fire Department lacked adequate water to fight the fire that destroyed the Kenmore Garage in February 1940.
1942: Another private water group, The Kenmore Water Company, installed at least two hydrants on top of the hill between 61st and 68th Avenues, and a well at the VIP’s Restaurant site (later Denny’s, now Ostrom’s) on Bothell Way where the fire tanker could be filled.
1946: Two groups began efforts to organize a water district, one to serve the Moorlands, Electra and Juanita voting precincts, and another to serve a larger area including the Moorlands, Kenmore and Linwood Heights areas. Moorlands voters approved the proposed water district by a vote of 90 to 5.
1947: The rest of Kenmore’s residents voted 195 to 57 to join the Moorlands area to form King County Water District 79. But the question of a source of water remained unresolved. Seattle agreed to consider extending a twenty-four-inch main along Bothell Way from Lake City to Kenmore, but there was concern about the cost.
1949: On July 4th, fire destroyed a Moorlands home. In trying to put out the blaze, firemen pumped the well dry at a neighbor’s home. Another Moorlands couple complained of running out of water and having trouble doing their laundry. Such problems prompted a citizen group to campaign for a specific plan to develop a water system. On November 29, 1949, voters finally authorized a water system.
1951: Water District 79 construction began with a plan to serve six hundred households. Customers paid $60 each for their connections. [Equal to $685 today.]
1952: A Seattle-to-Kenmore water main was completed and the first water meter was installed at the Kenmore Supermarket on May 29. Water flowed to a small central area during ceremonies at the Kenmore Klondike Night festival in June. District 79 immediately began to acquire more customers and was able to provide water to the Moorlands and other areas.
1953: A large home development in the lower Moorlands, and Pope & Talbot’s Uplake Terrace development added 75 new homes in the Kenmore area. District 79 built a new office at 18120 68th Avenue NE.
1963: District 79 connected with Seattle’s Tolt River Pipeline and solved its summer water problems.
1979: Ending nearly three decades of providing Kenmore with water, District 79 merged with the Northeast Lake Washington Sewer District. The utility was renamed Northshore Utility District in 1991.
1998: The District moved to its present location at 6830 NE 185th Street, where it serves more than 77,000 people. District infrastructure includes 281 miles of water mains, 261 sewer conveyance pipes, 11 lift stations, 3 water pump stations, 11 building structures, 8 storage tanks with a combined capacity of 29 million gallons.
Water District 79 moved into its first office, a tiny building at 18120 68th Avenue NE, in 1953
Home of Water District 79 on 68th AVE NE after outgrowing its original small office
Early Kenmore developer Watson Squire built this wooden water tank on Northlake Terrace in 1936 to serve central Kenmore. The 20,000-gallon tank was removed in 1949, but its four concrete anchor blocks remain embedded in the hillside
Featured image: Northshore Utility District moved into its present building in 1998.