Happy 160th to Louisville Water

Happy 160th to Louisville Water
October 15, 2020

On October 16, Louisville Water Company celebrates a milestone: 160 years of producing and delivering drinking water. And we want to celebrate with you!

Our birthday festivities include a tour of our historic facilities on either Sat., Oct. 17 or Sun., Oct. 18. Buy a timed entry ticket that includes a visit to the WaterWorks Museum, entry to Pumping Station No. 3, and a guided tour of our historic property.

Louisville Water began its operations on October 16, 1860 on the banks of the Ohio River – the same place where it operates today. In 1860, seeing the “water works” start was a grand affair --  residents came in horse-drawn carriages, dressed in their Sunday-best to see a grand Corinthian structure with an ornamental tower. They were curious more than thirsty. No one really wanted to “pay” for the water, since well water was free.

Louisville Water started with 512 customers and delivered its product through 26 miles of water main. Today, nearly one million people depend on Louisville Water to provide drinking water through more than 4,200 miles of water main. In its 160 years, Louisville Water has pioneered research that has improved the quality of tap water and public health.

  • Experiments in the late 1800s at Louisville Water discovered the link with filtration and water treatment to “clean” water
  • After Louisville opened its first treatment plant in 1909 and then added chlorine to the water, the U.S. government called the water “best in the country”
  • First and to date the only water utility to trade tap water – it’s a drinking water so good it has a name, Louisville pure tap®
  • First to combine a collector well and tunnel system as a source for drinking water
  • Original Pumping Station and Water Tower are one of seven National Historic Landmarks in Louisville
  • Crescent Hill Water Treatment Plant and Crescent Hill Reservoir & Gatehouse are Kentucky Historic Sites

Louisville Water had a goal of public health and safety. The city was known as the “graveyard of the west” because of the disease that often came from contaminated well water. Additionally, Louisville Water gave the Louisville Fire Department a more reliable source of water to fight fires. Today public health and safety are still our goal. We perform more than 220 water quality tests daily, our treatment plants are two of the top 18 in North America for water quality (according to the Partnership for Safe Water), and we maintain more than 23,000 public fire hydrants.

The original facilities were an attraction in 1860 and today. The WaterWorks Museum is in the Original Pumping Station at Louisville Water Tower Park on Zorn Avenue and the Crescent Hill Reservoir & Gatehouse on Frankfort Avenue is a favorite walking and running spot.