Raleigh-Durham Water Quality: Yesterday
Throughout North Carolina’s early settlements and the uncertainty of the Civil War years, the cities of Raleigh and Durham lacked a stable system for delivering and storing potable water. Raleigh, founded in 1792, depended on springs and wells until the city constructed its Water Works complex in 1887. An innovation for its time, the complex drew from Walnut Creek and delivered filtered water to a 2,500,000-gallon holding reservoir – with further elevated storage provided by the Raleigh Water Tower. By the 20th century, the system would expand to cover the entire metropolitan area, though much has now been renovated or decommissioned for historic preservation.
Nearly 25 miles to the north, Durham was undergoing a similar process of development throughout much of the 19th and 20th. Residents in the 1880s witnessed an explosion of the development throughout the city, incorporated in 1869, including the establishment of its first water system, treatment plant along the Eno River, the Huckleberry Hill Reservoir, and the Durham Water Company. After a devastating fire in 1914, made worse by weak water pressure, the city bought out the water company and continued to build a reliable, safe system.