Around 1910, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, and other portions of eastern Jefferson County were beginning to develop as an area for suburban living. Many people working in Denver found it pleasant and desirable to develop an acreage, build homes, and live west of the City; easy access was provided by an electric interurban line between Denver and Golden, and an increasing number of autos.
Unfortunately, water supply was a problem. Surface wells yielded hard water, and were frequently subject to contamination; desirable water supplies could only be obtained from deep wells, drilled to a depth of 600 to 700 feet. Because of the expense involved, neighborly cooperation came into play, and in the typically American tradition, people banded together to solve a common problem. They shared the cost of drilling deep wells, building pump houses, storage tanks, and laying pipelines to their homes. These neighborhood systems were eventually incorporated into nonprofit, mutual water companies.
On June 26, 1926, four of these small mutual companies were merged into The Consolidated Mutual Water Company. These four companies were The Oaks Mutual Water Company, The Glen Creighton Mutual Water Company, The Wadsworth Mutual Water Company, and The North Wadsworth Mutual Water Company. A bond issue financed the drilling of additional wells and the connecting of systems and it appeared that the suburban area had one company large enough for successful administration and service. But at the and of five years, growth, the depression, and the first serious drought resulted in extremely hard times for the Company. Many users were unemployed, unable to pay their bills, and without revenue. The Company could not provide additional water supplies and defaulted on its bonds. Most users were without water during the summer of 1931.
Following reorganization, new directors successfully negotiated for an emergency connection with the Denver Water Board in 1932. This was considered the best alternative over the drilling of new wells or bringing water from the mountains. A special assessment against the stockholders, some of whom worked out their assessment by digging trenches and laying the new Denver line, provided the basis for extending the Company's credit with the bondholders. with the additional source of water and the resulting ability to expand, the company managed to survive the remainder of the great depression, and after refinancing in the late thirties, the Company began to prosper.
In 1951, however, for the second time in its history, the combination of growth and drought created problems for the Company. The Denver water Board, faced with a shortage of water supply, established the historical "Blue Line," beyond which it would not supply water in the metropolitan area. Since the most rapid growth was occurring in the suburban areas, the development of additional water supplies became imperative if these areas were not to stagnate.
Water from Denver had increasingly become the major supply for the company, and the use of deep wells was not considered to be a reliable long-term source. Faced with water rationing and increasing demands for water service beyond the "Blue Line," the company began acquiring surface water rights and constructed the Maple Grove Reservoir and Treatment Plant, which were completed in 1957. These facilities eventually displaced the remaining deep wells, providing a more reliable and less costly water supply. The Treatment Plant was expanded in 1961, 1975 and again in 1988. The Maple Grove Plant now provides approximately 30% of the Company's annual water requirements with the other 70% still being purchased from Denver.
In addition to the four mutual companies merging in 1926, eleven other water systems have since joined the company: The Olson well system in 1943; The Lakewood Mutual Artesian Water Company in 1960; Applewood Utilities, Inc. in 1969; The Henderson Water Association in 1971; The Echo Hills mutual water company and Wheat Ridge Mutual Water Company in 1972; The Pleasant View Water & Sanitation District in 1987; from the City of Lakewood, Miller Heights, Cedar Crest, and Crest Hill Water Districts in 1987 and the Westland Water District in 1990. Since incorporation in 1926, the number of water taps has increased from 136 to 20,878 as of January 31, 2007.
The Company still follows the original pattern of the early cooperatives - ownership by the water users. it is presently operating under the provisions of the Colorado Nonprofit Corporation Act, accepted by action of the stockholders in 1969. This Act, passed by the State Legislature in 1967, clarifies the numerous laws regulating the administration on nonprofit companies and more clearly defines the powers and responsibilities of the Directors.
The Company is exempt from Federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(12) of the Internal Revenue Code. it is also exempt from state and local income tax, property, and sales taxes. The company has no power to levy property taxes, as all costs of service are reflected in the Stockholders' water bill.
Service is presently being provided to an estimated population of 85,000 within a 26 square mile service area in Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, and eastern Jefferson County through a 325 mile pipeline network.
Throughout the years, the company has continued to replace, enlarge, and enhance its water and operating systems to accomplish its declared objective: "To serve our community by providing quality domestic water and service within the constraints of available water supply, governmental regulation, and economics."