William Jackson Dingee (July 22, 1854 - September 5, 1941) (pronounced 'dingy') was an American real estate magnate and utility owner. Born in Pennsylvania, Dingee moved to Oakland, California in 1877 and found a job as a bookkeeper. Between 1878 and 1888, Dingee became wealthy investing in real estate. By 1888 he was living at the Fernwood Estate (the former residence of Colonel Jack Coffee Hays). In 1891, Dingee approached the Contra Costa Water Company to service his acreage in the Montclair - Piedmont area. Contra Costa refused, purportedly because of the company's supply problems. (Water in the East Bay was scarce) In response, Dingee drilled tunnels into the hills on his estate above Shepherd Canyon to access aquifers. To offset this venture, he extended the pipes past his Piedmont property into the Oakland flatlands, areas poorly serviced by the Contra Costa Water Company. In doing so he formed the Piedmont Spring and Water Company in 1891 and then in the Oakland Water Company in 1893. In doing so, he became a direct competitor with the Contra Coast Water Company. These events ignited the infamous 'Water War' of the late 19th century. The companies slashed prices to compete and hired 'experts' to denigrate one-another's water, claiming it was 'not fit for human consumption'. Both companies suffered sabotage, for which they publicly blamed each other. The war led to severe water shortages throughout Oakland such that it was impossible to get water to the upper floors of downtown buildings in the afternoon. Even City Hall had to use pitchers to get water to the second floor. Finally, in 1888 or 1889, under city pressure, the companies consolidated under Dingee. At the end of the Water War, Dingee was a millionaire and owned property in both Oakland and New York. His Fernwood Estate burned to the ground in 1899 while he and his wife were in New York. Around this time, Dingee invested the cement industry, opening plants in California, Pennsylvania, and Washington. He came to be known as 'The Cement King'. Dingee's fortune evaporated in 1908, supposedly because of a corrupt business partner. Humbled, he and his wife moved to Sacramento. His wife died of pneumonia in 1914 and he entered bankruptcy court in 1921. Dingee died in obscurity in 1941.