In 1945 a group of approximately 50 farmers residing in the Firgrove area on South Hill attempted to build a domestic farmstead water system. Some of the members of the group had a water supply which was inadequate and unsatisfactory, so the further development of a community water system was contemplated. The group then made contact with the Farm Security Administration in Puyallup for assistance. The organizing group was determined to continue their efforts and filed for the incorporation of a non-profit organization in 1952.
There was considerable resistance to forming a water district, as the district would have the power to impose rates. At that particular time the philosophy of the area would not support any additional costs. The decision to form a mutual company in which all members paid their fair share of the cost of drilling for and the delivering water to each property became the acceptable choice of those in the Firgrove area.
At the time Firgrove Mutual Water was incorporated in 1952 there were 48 fully paid members. Working capital for the production of water was raised through the selling of shares. The shares would cost $300.00 for connection to the water system. Those who wanted water from the system would pay for the cost of the pipes needed to deliver water to their property and the share money would go towards the development of water sources. At the time of incorporation the Mutual had $14,400.00 on deposit in the bank.
A Board of Trustees was formed, by-laws were written, and the immediate Firgrove area was divided into five separate districts with a Board member representing each district. This remained the standard until it became too difficult to retain Board members from each of the districts. The first Board members were President Frank Ballou, Vice President David Best, Wilburn George, John Anderson, and Secretary J.S. Sagmiller, and Assistant Secretary Chris O’Kelly. Currently all Board members are elected at large.
Listed alphabetically below are the Board members that served over the past 60 years and the decade(s) in which they served.
- John Arno 70’s, 80’s
- Ken Baker 60’s, 70’s
- Gayton Blessing 60’s, 70’s
- Jim Burdine 70’s
- Noreen Clubb 70’s, 80’s
- Emmett Cooper 60’s, 70’s
- Jack Crawford 60’s
- George Dill 90’s
- Nancy Donovan '00's, 10's
- C.R. Doran 60’s
- Tom Elsdon 60’s
- William Fennel 70’s
- Floyd Forestall 60’s
- Clarence Gotchy 60’s
- Jarl Hagen 70’s
- Gary Harris 70’s, 80’s
- Jon Herrington 90’s, 00’s
- Kim Hinds 90’s
- Mitchell Hinds 90’s, 00’s, 10's
- Ray Holt 70’s
- Walt Huff 60’s, 70’s
- Cliff Hurst 60’s, 70’s
- Harlan Keith 90’s, 00’s, 10's
- Ed Kilen 60’s
- Frank LaCrosse 60’s
- Abe Letourneau 50’s
- Rollin Miller 60’s
- Joe Miller 70’s, 80’s
- Ben Miracle 50’s, 60’s, 70’s
- Gary Poling 70’s
- Bob Reeves 80’s, 90’s
- Jim Royal 70’s
- Stan Salmon 90’s, 00’s, 10's
- Tom Sawyer 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 10's
- Everett Shinn 60’s
- Wayne Vadnais 70’s
- Jim Walecka 80’s
- Clint Williams 70’s, 80’s
- Don Williams 80’s ,90’s, 00’s
- Scott Williams '00's, 10's
The governing body thus having been created the Mutual moved forward to develop an infrastructure. The projected cost of developing a domestic water system was $66,000.00. A loan was applied for in the amount of $50,000.00 from the Farm Home Administration. The purpose of these funds was to develop a source and construct a distribution system.
Land was purchased from Eben Corlis for the construction of the wells and storage facilities.
Since the Washington State Department of Ecology has been limiting the release of permits for further well drilling in the Firgrove service area, Firgrove Mutual water began negotiations with the City of Tacoma for an additional water supply. Permanent interties #1, #2, and #3 were negotiated in 1996 for 1.5 million gallons per day. In 2000 Firgrove reached agreement with the City of Tacoma to purchase up to 2.8 million gallons of water per day peak flow. This allows the Mutual to plan for future development in the service area.
Firgrove currently has two emergency interties with neighboring water companies. On the South the intertie is with Rainier View Water Company and to the North the intertie is with Fruitland Mutual Water Company. Water, during times of emergency, can flow through these interties in either direction if the need should arise.
By 1995 the entire network of 4inch steel pipe had been replaced. The pipe currently being used is class 200 PVC. All of the major grids currently are composed of 12inch pipe. The connecting lines are composed of 8inch pipe and are looped to maintain water quality and to provide adequate fire protection. There are approximately 20 miles of 12inch pipe, 40 miles of 8inch pipe, 17 miles of 6inch pipe and 8 miles of 4 inch pipe.
The first Office was constructed at the 144th and 108th street site in 1953. It was constructed of cement blocks and originally held two pressure tanks. It was converted to serve as the office in the 1960’s and served as the Firgrove office until the 1980’s when the current office was constructed. During 2005 a new maintenance facility and administration building were constructed.
Firgrove celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2002. The Mutual has expanded to include approximately 10 square miles. The company has grown to embrace a population of about 20,000 residents and continues to expand as new developments are added within the service area.
Five managers during its fifty-year history have served Firgrove. Joe Berry was the first manager and was active until 1966 when Floyd Blyton replaced him. Floyd served until 1978 when he retired. Chuck Stager was hired in 1978 and was replaced by Roy Bingman in 1986. Roy served until 1999 when he retired. Steve Wieneke served from 1999 until 2007. Currently, Larry D. Jones is the General Manager.
Firgrove aggressively safeguards its water supply in order to provide a safe and reliable supply of water. Firgrove upholds the standards set by the Washington State Department of Health and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Mutual is proud of its record of providing high quality of water and service to its customers.