BALTIMORE CITY ARCHIVES
(Water Supply Records)
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.