The story of drinking water in Riverview

Mr. Perry, 

I read in social media that some residents of Riverview are complaining about the high water bills, and being a former DPW water department director, and I was wondering if you can elaborate further?? 

John M. 

Thanks for the letter John, but I also read social media and I have seen where the mayor has attempted to answer all the questions – about anything and everything – regarding water bills, so this old, retired department head is going to pass on this one. I will elaborate, however, on how the city, or better yet, the village obtained fresh drinking water back in the 1920s. 

Before the village came into being, we were part of Monguagon Township, along with Trenton, Sibley and Grosse lle.

The residents of Riverview Street, Jefferson, and Grant street, all had wells or cisterns. When the wells began to dry up and using water from the Detroit River was ruled out because it was not pure enough, they had to have water brought in by a horse-drawn water tanker wagon.

So it became obvious to the leaders of the area that the only way to procure fresh water was to pipe it in from areas to the North (Wyandotte) or South (Trenton) that had purification plants. But Trenton only had enough capacity for its residents, so going to Trenton for water was out. Wyandotte had its own water system, also. 

Another problem of wanting to have a fresh water piping system built was the ability to pay for it, and no one person could afford it. There would have been a Monguagon Township-wide bond issue voted on, and if approved, the whole township would have been obligated to pay back the money. 

Right away they could see that wasn’t going to happen. So the local leaders had another avenue to use, and that was to organize the small area in need of water into a incorporated village. This way the new village residents could pass a bond Issue to pay for a water system. 

In June of 1921, the residents, within the boundaries of the Detroit River and Tow line Road (Pennsylvania) Mud Road, (Sibley) and Strong Road (Fort Street). went to the polls and passed the Incorporation request. by a total of 143-61. 

But – setback No.1 – The rest of Monguagon Township had to approve the issue. And – you guessed it – they voted it down by a count of 201-153.

Not to be discouraged, the village leaders led another petition drive in November of 1921 requesting another vote to be held. And on December 12, 1921 the resolution passed. The count in Monguagon was 203 for, 46 against and the count in the village was 72 for and 32 against.

So the newly formed village then met with the village of Sibley and formed a committee with the intent of conferring with the city of Wyandotte to see if they were interested in furnishing the two villages with water. 

Sometime in late 1923, (no record could be found of the exact date) an agreement was made and a contract was signed by Riverview and Wyandotte for the supply of pure water. 

In November of 1923, an election was held for the citizens to decide on whether or not to “build a pure water system” with the estimated to cost $88,000 dollars. The issue passed overwhelmingly. 

So, sometime in the winter of 1924 the layng of pipe throughout the village began in earnest. 

But – setback No. 2 – came when on May 9, 1924. Riverview’s consulting engineer reported that, “A hitch occurred in the proceedings with Wyandotte when they demanded more than what had been agreed upon.” 

With this news, The Riverview/Sibley committee decided to go to Detroit and the result was, they (Detroit) would be glad to supply the village with water. Shortly after, in May of 1924, work began on the construction of the Detroit waterline, from Lincoln Park to Riverview. 

In late 1924 the connection was made and Riverview had pure, fresh water! 

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