William J. Dingee formed the Piedmont Spring and Water Company in 1891 and reincorporated it as the Oakland Water Company in 1893, directly competing with the Contra Costa Water Company. For the next decade, the two firms engaged in the notorious and ruinous water war. Each of the two companies hired experts to analyze the other company's water and declare it unsuitable for human consumption. Oakland Water Company leveled accusations that drillers next to its Alvarado Wells were aiming to ruin its wells by pumping millions of gallons of fresh water into the San Francisco Bay.

(There is a photo of the well "bored in 1894" in the 1897 Athens of the Pacific available at the OHR.)

The offices of both the Oakland Water Company and the Contra Costa Water Company were located in the Leimert Block of Downtown Oakland, until the Contra Costa Water Company moved into into the Blake and Moffit Block at the northeast corner of 8th Street and Broadway in 1895. The Oakland Water Company expanded into the former Leimert Block offices of the Contra Costa Water Company.

Dingee exclaimed, “The Contra Costa Water Company has hired newspapers to libel me…They have lied about the quality of our water…(and have) pumped lime into our lines….” 1

Dingee accused the Contra Costa Water Company of causing severe water shortages by sabotaging his ability to serve customers through cutting and blowing up the Oakland Water lines.

When William Dingee gained control of the Contra Costa Water Company in 1899, the operations of both concerns moved into the adjacent building, the address of which is currently 801-7 Broadway.

Links and References

  1. The History of Old Oakland Old-Oakland.com