Beginning in 1636, when Roger Williams founded Providence on the east bank of the Providence River, the only drinking water available was derived from private wells.
1600 - HOW EVERYTHING GOT STARTED
1700 - THE FIRST WATER SYSTEM
1800 - VOTERS REJECTED AND LATER APPROVED DEVELOPMENT OF WATER SUPPLY
1870 - ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE WATER SUPPLY HAD NO PURIFICATION TREATMENT
1900 - GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE AND EXTENSION OF THE SYSTEM
1920 - DEVELOPMENT OF A MODERN SYSTEM
1940 - THE MOST ADVANCED PURIFICATION PLANT IN NEW ENGLAND
The original treatment plant was state-of-the-art at the time of its construction. The plant was considered to be among the most technologically advanced of its day, and for many years the filtration system was the only plant of its type in New England. As demand continued to grow, the treatment plant underwent major expansions and renovations in the 1940's, '60's, and again in the 2000's. Today, the plant has a maximum treatment capacity of 144 million gallons of water per day and still remains the largest treatment facility in New England.
1970 - WATER DELIVERED THROUGH TWO MAJOR AQUEDUCTS
Once leaving the plant, water is delivered into the system through two major aqueducts. The first, the original 90-inch aqueduct constructed at the same time as the original treatment plant, is 4.5 miles long, including 3.3 miles of tunnel. It terminates at the structure called the siphon chamber, located near Phoenix Avenue in Cranston. From there, it splits into two large conduits, 60-inch and 66-inch in diameter, which in turn split into a series of progressively smaller transmission mains supplying the distribution system. The second supplemental aqueduct, constructed in the 1970s, is a 9.5 mile, 78-inch and 102-inch tunnel and aqueduct system which terminates at Budlong Road in Cranston.
2000 - PRESENT WATER DELIVERY IS 75% BY GRAVITY AND 25% PUMPING
Flow from the source of supply is entirely by gravity. At present, the mode of delivery within the distribution system is 75% by gravity and 25% by pumping. Four storage reservoirs located within the distribution system provide storage for fire protection, emergencies and for meeting peak demands. Two of these - the Aqueduct Reservoir in Cranston, with a capacity of 43.4 million gallons, and the Neutaconkanut Reservoir in Johnston, with a capacity of 42.1 million gallons - are on the gravity feed system. The system's three primary pumping facilities - the Neutaconkanut, Bath Street, and Fruit Hill pumping stations - supply water to the other two storage facilities, Longview Reservoir in North Providence, with a capacity of 24.8 million gallons, and Ridge Road Tank, with a capacity of 3.5 million gallons, located in the Town of Smithfield. Water is delivered to the system's 72,300 retail service connections and 8 wholesale communities through a system of over 1000 miles of water mains, ranging from 6" to 102" in diameter.