Making History

The City of Atlanta acquired its first dependable public water system in 1875, nearly 30 years after Atlanta was established. A 350-foot dam and reservoir at Poole Creek was completed, and 120 people were employed to lay a water main to the city. When Mayor William A. Hemphill took office in 1891, he recognized the need for a new water system and directed the effort to build a water works system that used the Chattahoochee River as its source. Soon after, a site was selected for the river water pumping station and was connected to the largest reservoir in the South by a 30-inch water main. In 1893, City Engineer Robert M. Clayton and Water Works Superintendent William G. Richards planned and completed the system, which included settling basins, filters and a pure water pumping station for Atlanta’s second water system. One of those main transmission lines is still in use today, operating only part of the year due to its fragility.

Now more than 120 years later after many expansion and improvements to the water system, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recognizes the need to have a water contingency plan in place. Named as the top priority project for the Department of Watershed Management, the Water Supply Program will enhance Atlanta’s current water conveyance and storage system while providing the projected 280 million gallons of water per day necessary to sustain the drinking water system in the future.