Riverbank Filtration

Louisville Water Company produces drinking water from two sources: the Ohio River and groundwater. The Ohio River is an amazing natural resource and parallel to the river is an underground aquifer where groundwater is naturally filtered.

Louisville Water pulls the groundwater into the B.E. Payne Water Treatment Plant through a process called Riverbank Filtration where sand and gravel in the earth naturally filter the water.

Although the process is natural, Louisville Water constructed an underground tunnel and well system to collect the water from the aquifer. In fact, Louisville Water is the first utility in the world to combine a gravity tunnel with wells as a source for drinking water.

The tunnel is a mile-and-a-half long some 150-feet below the surface and parallel to the Ohio River. Above the tunnel, four wells collect the filtered water then send the water to the tunnel. An above ground pump station pulls the water to the surface to the treatment plant.

Because the water is naturally filtered, it requires less treatment. The process eliminates taste and odor issues, provides an additional barrier for pathogen removal and creates a stable water temperature of around 55-degrees, resulting in fewer main breaks in the distribution system.

The American Society of Civil Engineers honored Louisville Water Company with its 2011 Outstanding Civil Engineer Achievement Award for the Riverbank Filtration Project. The engineering society presented the award to Louisville Water and its engineering consultant Jordan, Jones & Goulding.

Established in 1960, the award honors projects that best illustrate superior civil engineering skills and represent a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. This was the second time the American Society of Civil Engineers has honored Louisville Water. The historic Louisville Water Tower is listed as a Civil Engineering Landmark.


View Our Riverbank Filtration Process