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Icon Information on BRG25 - (Water Supply Records)

Series Information
(Water Supply Records)

Series Description

Beginning in the 1790's Baltimore municipal authorities attempted to supply fresh water to city residents. In 1804 a privately-owned water company began operation. From its founding this company generated public disapproval with high rates and insufficient service ultimately leading to municipal take-over in 1854. The following year a water board was created in its place.

Special loans funded an assortment of projects designed to extend water service facilities. In the mid-1870's work was begun on the conveyance of water from the Gunpowder River in Baltimore County, a project completed in 1881 with reservoirs at Loch Raven and Montebello. Additional facilities were constructed in the 1890's to meet growth in the north and northwest sections of the city and improvements for the southwest section followed a few years later.

By the early twentieth century it was apparent Baltimore required substantially more water than it was receiving. In 1912 work began on a larger dam at the Loch Raven Reservoir and construction of a city-wide conduit and filtration system also was undertaken. Additional sources of water were directed into Baltimore from Prettyboy Reservoir in 1933, a network still supplying most of Baltimore's water.

The Water Board was an independent agency from its establishment until its placement under the Department of Public Improvements in 1898. With the government reorganization of the 1920's, the function was put under a Bureau of Water Supply which was in turn accountable to the Department of Public Works. This arrangement continues today.

For more information, see the Baltimore Bureau of Water Supply, History of Baltimore Water Supply (RG.29, S.l - Water Supply); Department of Public Works, Bureau of Consumer Services, The Story of Baltimore's Water Supply (Subject Files, Baltimore City Archives); and Clayton C. Hall, Baltimore: Its History and Its People, (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1912), 1: 413-23.

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DateSeries NameDescriptionMSA Citation
  Details1829-1922Adminstrative Files

Resolutions and memorandum relating to the sale of property and rights to the water board from the Baltimore Water Commission; documents demonstrating the desire of the population for a city controlled water supply; correspondence between the municipal government and the Baltimore Water Commission relating to possible sales and information regarding water flow and quality.

There is also material relating to the formation of a water board and resolutions stating its responsibilities. After the city secured the purchase of the property and rights of the Baltimore Water Commission most material concerns to the creation of a quality supply of water with information on the creation of reservoirs, the maintenance and extension of water mains, repairs to previously existing pumps and wells, and the more efficient conveyance of water from the Jones Falls and the Gunpowder River. There is also material relating to the purchasing of land and water rights from individual and corporate owners.

Information leading to the administrative practices include cost estimates, payroll records, and vouchers; list of officers of the board; lists of guards for various reservoirs; disbursements and receipts; inventories of materials; and requisitions for materials and statements of water rents due the water board.

Correspondence includes engineers reports; communication relating to sales of materialsto the water board; descriptions by owners of water areas; circulars sent to property owners relating to possible sale of their property and their responses; correspondence between the Mayor and City Council appointing water commissioners; correspondence between various groups and the city regarding the question of using the Gunpowder River rather than the Jones Falls as a supply source; letters of application and reference for positions with the board; communication between the board and other city agencies; and correspondence between the board and the water departments of other cities. Some of this correspondence concerns the construction, maintenance, and extension of reservoirs and water mains; material relating to failures of property owners to pay water bills; and questions by owners regarding the supply and cost of water.

There are bills of sale and contracts relative to material purchased by the board from local and out of state maunufacturers and several maps relating to the conveyance of a water supply to the city.

Several related documents, dating from 1909 to 1922, which were not indexed by the HRS have been placed at the end of this series. These include a listing of the salaries and duties of water department employees, claims for contract payments for sewer construction, records relating to work done on the Loch Raven Dam, and estimates of completion of alterations to the Eastern Pumping Station.

A separate item index is available at the Baltimore City Archives.

  Details1921-1923Reports of the Eastern Extension of Municipal Water Supply to the 1918 AnexSeries of nine financial reports concerning the takeover of private water companies, laying of mains, drilling of wells, installation of meters, and general construction expenses.BRG25-2
  Details1903Water Engineer JournalFinancial accounts of water department equipment and supply purchases.BRG25-3
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