Providence Water Quality: Yesterday
As far back as the 17th century, Providence residents have made their homes along the eastern bank of the Providence River. Originally only available from private wells, drinking water was first distributed to families in 1773 through an underground system of hollowed out wooden logs. The city’s population swelled in the 19th century, and soon, Providence needed to decide on how water could be carried into the future.
The city’s first water pumping system, constructed in 1871, pumped water directly from the Pawtuxet River without any purification or treatment. Filtration would come later, in 1906, in the form of a slow sand system. Yet, fear of water shortage was ever present, and the need for water storage became apparent. Providence’s first reservoir, Scituate Reservoir, still a staple of the city’s water today, was built in 1915.