At the time the City of Great Falls (the City) was founded in 1884, water was delivered by horse and wagon to front porch water barrels. In 1888 Mr. Ira Myers conceived the idea of a public water system, but public subscription to raise the $35,000 for the construction of a water plant and distribution system failed. In 1889 the governing body of the City granted a 20-year franchise to the Great Falls Water Company, which was successful in selling $150,000 in bonds for the construction of the project. The original system consisted of one steam driven pump capable of 2 million gallons per day and 9 miles of pipe. In 1898 a special City election passed a $375,000 bond issuance, with which the City purchased the water system from the Great Falls Water Company.
The Missouri River has remained the supply source for the water utility since 1889. Previous to 1917, river water was settled in open ponds then pumped directly into the distribution system by steam driven pumps. In 1910 electric motor driven centrifugal pumps with an 8-million gallon a day capacity were installed, and by 1917 a newly constructed filtration facility was placed into operation.
Today, raw water from the Missouri River receives modern treatment methods of coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection before it is pumped into over 310 miles of water distribution lines. There are seven storage facilities in the distribution system with a total capacity of over 12 million gallons. (See the Supporting Documents below for a flowchart of the water treatment process)
The onsite Water Testing Lab routinely tests for contaminates in the water, as required by Federal and State laws. A Water Quality - Consumer Confidence Report is created annually from the previous year's analysis data and is distributed to the water system users.
If you would like additional information regarding the Water Plant Operation, or wish to schedule a tour of the plant, please contact Mike Jacobson at 727-1325.
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