Hartford Water Quality: Yesterday
The first European settlers of Hartford were impressed with the fertile Connecticut River Valley and the abundance of fresh water. Like many older cities, Hartford residents would divert water for drinking, but then also use the same waterways for human waste and industrial waste, making it dangerously unsanitary. By 1867, Hartford residents were forced to stop using the Connecticut River for drinking water.
To provide clean water for its growing population, Hartford city engineers built a multi-reservoir system, including the Nepaug Reservoir, which used gravity to bring water from the northwest hills of Connecticut. In 1929, a public non-profit municipal corporation, The Metropolitan District, was formed to provide a modern drinking water and sewer system to the people and businesses of Hartford. The Metropolitan District quickly assumed responsibility for the 9.5 billion gallon Nepaug reservoir and began construction on the Barkhamsted Reservoir, which would become the largest single water supply reservoir in the state! As Hartford grew, city planners continued to construct reservoirs and dams to bolster its water supply, and at the same time initiated aggressive clean up program of its rivers and watersheds.