In the late 1880’s a logging and sawmill company constructed a penstock on the East Branch River and installed a water line down to a sawmill located near the current Town Hall. When the logging was exhausted, and the sawmill relocated, the local residents extended the water line to Route 16 (now Route 16A) to provide water for their homes, inns, and farms. In 1915, these users petitioned the Town of Bartlett and the New Hampshire State Legislature to form a water precinct and draw water from the East Branch River for public use. This was the beginning of the Lower Bartlett Water Precinct.
Over the next 50 years, the water system slowly grew. A 2-inch galvanized water main was extended south along Route 16(A) to Pumpkin Hollow and up into the Alpendorf development. The system worked well for three seasons of the year. However, since the pipe was only buried 2 feet down, there were winter freeze-ups which would leave the residents without water for weeks at a time. It was not uncommon in the winter to see tires burning along the sides of the road in attempts to thaw the water main.
In the early 1970’s, William Goodwin, a resident of East Branch Road and a retired Massachusetts utility manager, was elected to the Precinct’s Board of Commissioners. With his knowledge, and under his supervision, a water system improvement project was undertaken. A gravel-packed well was developed off Intervale Lane, a 250,000 gallon storage tank was built on the hill at Alpendorf, and 8-inch and 12-inch ductile iron water mains were run between the new well and tank and along Route 16A from the East Branch River to Pumpkin Hollow. All the new mains were buried at least 6 feet deep to provide a four-season water system. That system was designed for 250 service connections.
The next significant improvement was undertaken in 1987. With more than 325 service connections and 150 permit applications for new construction, the Precinct needed additional capacity. A $2 million project was undertaken which included a second well, a 500,000 gallon storage tank and new 12-inch transmission main from the well field cross-country to Route 16A. The capacity of the system was increased by 500 service connections.
In the mid 1990’s, a group of business people in the Glen area and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services approached the Precinct about expanding its water services to Glen. At the time, New Hampshire Department of Transportation was planning to rebuild the roads and replace the bridge crossing the Ellis River in Glen. Working within the DOT project, the Precinct would realize a significant savings installing its water mains. However, since the Glen area was outside of the Precinct boundaries, the Precinct obtained a franchise from New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission. This allows the Precinct to operate as a non-regulated public utility within its franchise areas as long as the rates charged to franchise customers are the same as rates charged to customers within the Precinct boundaries.
As the engineering plans and construction budget were developed the Glen project came into jeopardy as there were not enough new customers requesting service to offset the cost of debt necessary to finance the expansion. This financial shortfall was resolved when Bob and Stoney Morrell decided to connect Storyland to the system. Even though the cost of Precinct water would be considerably higher than the cost of operating their own wells, Bob Morrell reasoned “you can’t base all decisions on the bottom line; sometimes you have to think about what is good for the community.”
The Lower Bartlett Water Precinct continues to to expand meeting the objectives of its mission "to provide clean and reliable drinking water at an affordable cost, with the goal of sustaining human life and fostering economic growth within the LBWP's service area". The Precinct functions also include zoning and subdivision regulations within the Precinct boundaries.