As the owner of the American House Hotel, Phillip Cressman saw an urgent need to develop a public water system, not only his property but also the Borough of Perkasie overall. Along with some fellow investors, he formed the Perkasie Water Company in March 1895 under a Borough of Perkasie Ordinance, which ran water pipes in Perkasie and obtained its charter from the state to supply water to the Borough.
The Perkasie Water Company purchased the Willet Farm on Three Mile Run Road (with water rights) and two other properties from John Dillon and John Freed. The new plant consisted of an earth basin next to the springs on the Dillon-Freed land, a six-inch water main across the farm, and roads to a million gallon reservoir near the south side (Perkasie side) of the railroad tunnel. From the reservoir an eight-inch distribution main was laid down from 10th and Vine streets under the railroad to Seventh Street, along Seventh Street to Market Street.
Other branches of pipe supplied the more heavily settled areas of town for a total of three miles (17,000 feet) of pipe in 1895. There were 30 hydrants, 36 valves and 50 services at this time. The work and plant were completed in the fall of that year. The population of the Borough in 1890 was 450; by 1900 the population had grown to 1,800.
An increased number of consumers required expansion of the system in 1900. A brick pumping station was constructed and a Deming Triplex pump driven by an Otto gasoline engine was installed and, for ten years, this system served the community.
In 1902, The Perkasie Water Company reorganized and changed its name to the Perkasie Water Supply Company (PWSC). In 1911 Keller Springs (one mile east of farm on slope of Rock Hill) was acquired in order to expand the system. A cast iron line connected the Keller Springs supply to the Willet Farm and the rest of the system. A filter and hydrochloric pump plant filtered and chlorinated the water to avoid possible contamination by the Railroad Company.
The water line from the water farm to the reservoir was expanded to increase capacity for the Keller Springs water. The water line from the water farm to the reservoir was expanded to an eight-inch pipe. Extensions were made to distribute water in town including South Perkasie.
In 1929 there was 75,000 feet of pipe in place to serve the Borough of Perkasie. In 1908 the PWSC signed its first agreement to provide public water to East Rockhill Township and in 1911 water service was extended to South Perkasie (known at the time as Bridgeton). Also in 1908, the Perkasie Sewer Company was formed.
1920 - 1954
Until the 1920s, users of the system originally paid flat rates for water use. Perkasie Water Supply Company was ordered to discontinue this practice in 1921 by the Public Service Commission and the company was given five years to install meters. A few meters were installed as early as 1900, but it was not until the 1920s that a general metering system was in place. By 1929, 99 percent of all water service was metered. By 1954 there was 96,000 feet of pipe, 86 hydrants, 220 valves and 1,150 services.
The Borough of Perkasie, under the Municipal Authority's Act of 1945, formed the Perkasie Borough Authority (PBA) for the purpose of purchasing the assets of the Perkasie Water Supply Company and Perkasie Sewer Company. The Authority was providing potable water and sanitary sewers, not only the Borough but also to neighboring townships and boroughs.
By 1965, the population of Perkasie, as well surrounding towns, was growing. Sellersville, Silverdale and Telford were popular places along with villages such as Blooming Glen in Hilltown and the Three Mile Run Valley of East Rockhill.
The ability to handle sewage became paramount in the late 1960’s. The creation of the Department of Environmental Resources in the early 1970’s to administer the recently passed Clean Water Act and the Clean Streams Law virtually brought growth to a halt. For years the question of Regional Sewer Treatment versus small package plants raged on.
The method of the regional alternative eventually won out over PBA’s many objections. PBA wasn’t opposed to regional treatment, as it had been treating sewer for the Borough of Sellersville since 1908, but was opposed to a Regional Sewer Authority being responsible for sewage treatment as opposed to PBA providing the service.
In 1973, under the threat of losing federal funding for new sewers and plant upgrades, the Borough of Perkasie and the Borough of Sellersville formed the Pennridge Wastewater Treatment Authority (PWTA) and, in 1977, PBA sold its sewage treatment facilities to PWTA.
With the formation of PWTA, the installation of sewers, and the recently completed sewer plant ready for operation, the floodgates opened. Fifteen years of pent up demand for homes took off like a rocket. The area population exploded.
The amount of new homes coupled with the devastating Perkasie fire of 1988 exposed many of the weaknesses in the water and sewer system. Faced with additional demands in East Rockhill, the rebuilding of the Perkasie Town Center and in the face of another sewer moratorium, PBA created an aggressive plan to improve fire protection, create new sources of supply, and address the aging sewer system.
With the dawn of a new century and the survival of Y2K, PBA completed all but one project of the comprehensive plan adopted in 1990. The new century also ushered in several new unfunded mandates, the most expensive being arsenic removal. The Authority not only met the challenge but also received a grant from DEP for innovative technology.
The Authority also survived a hostile takeover attempt from the Borough of Perkasie and emerged from that experience more confident than ever in our role as the largest water purveyor in Upper Bucks and determined to continue to pursue excellence in providing services to our customers.
The Perkasie Borough Authority had four deep wells in the Three Mile Run Watershed and three deep wells in the Perkiomen Watershed, although two of those wells were taken out of service due to high limits of arsenic. The distribution system had grown to more than 322,781 feet of piping, 411 fire hydrants, more than 1,539 main valves, and in excess of 3,750 service line valves.
Two storage facilities of 1,000,000 gallons and 2,000,000 gallons, respectively, ensure a continued supply of water for domestic use and fire protection. There were 3,632 households receiving water in Perkasie, 940 in East Rockhill Township, 19 in West Rockhill Township, and 29 in Hilltown Township. Billing for water was determined by thousands of gallons passing through the water meter during a billing period. Meters were read by a remote station attached to the outside of the building being serviced.
In addition to items relating to water services, the Authority is also responsible for 189,592 feet of sewer line and 920 manholes in providing sewer services to its customers.
Today - A New Name, A New Era
In 2008 and 2010, the Authority entered into Service Agreements with East and West Rockhill Townships to extend water into both townships and sewer into West Rockhill Township.
In 2010, the Authority Board of Directors also made the decision to purchase a closed circuit television truck and jet truck to perform more of our own sewer system maintenance. We also contract out our services to neighboring communities to aid them in either emergency or planned maintenance.
In 2011, the Authority passed a Resolution and petitioned the Council of the Borough of Perkasie to make two (2) major changes to our Articles of Incorporation. The first was to change the name of the Authority to the Perkasie Regional Authority. It was the position of the Authority Board that the scope and mission of our service area had expanded far beyond the boundaries of the Borough of Perkasie and the Authority had taken on the responsibility of a Regional Authority.
The second request was to restrict the PRA Board membership by not allowing sitting council members, supervisors or employees of any municipality served by the Authority to serve on the PRA Board. It was the goal of this request to minimize political influence in the operation of the Authority.
We are also converting our method of meter reading to radio transmitters. This enables us to read your meter without having to enter your property. It will also enable us to help determine when high usages occur for customers who question the amount of water used.
In 2011-2012, the Authority Board decided it was time to construct a new operations center. The new location is 150 Ridge Road, Sellersville, PA 18960, between the Comcast building and the Pennridge Regional Police headquarters.