By Drew Desmond
It was the biggest disaster to strike the city since the Great Fire of 1900, and it got progressively worse. By the time the summer of 1919 came along, water pressure had consistently fallen so low that everyone was required to boil it. Unfortunately, the Weekly Journal-Miner noted, that did nothing to relieve its foul smell.
Prescott was thrilled to learn that Ft. Whipple would be brought back to life as a hospital for US veterans suffering from tuberculosis. It would be an economic boom for the city. However, the new hospital had first rights to the water being pumped up from Del Rio Springs, which was also the largest source of freshwater for the city. Even before it was in full operation, the hospital was already consuming the majority of that water. The crisis was even more acute for farmers around Chino Valley and Jerome Junction. Prescott had been allowing them to use city water for several years, but in May of 1918, the city needed to turn off the tap. Prescott also prohibited the railroad from using water from Miller Creek. Despite these efforts, the city was still consuming more water than it was capturing. In December of 1918, over 17 million gallons were consumed. The previous December, it was only 10 million.