Baltimore Water Quality: Yesterday
Nearly 50 years before the United States established independence in 1776, the city of Baltimore, founded in 1729, was a thriving community gathered along the Patapsco River. Early settlers and Native people drank directly from wells and streams, ponds, and springs.
In the early 1800s, the Baltimore Water Company, which would later be sold to the city in 1854, was formed and set to work on the city’s water infrastructure. Under their guidance, the city welcomed its first reservoir at the corner of Center and Calvert Streets to receive water from Jones Falls, as well as its first distribution system.
As Baltimore’s population exploded throughout the 19th century, so did its need for accessible water. The Jones Falls supply was expanded and improved by the construction of Lake Roland Dam and Reservoir and the development of a system of mains and conduits. The Water Department also completed Lake Chapman, now Druid Lake, in 1865, as well as Druid Hill Reservoir, Loch Raven Reservoir and a dam across Gunpowder Falls due to increasing demand and recurring droughts throughout the 1870s and 1880s.