Until 1900, the Chicago River drained into Lake Michigan, along with all the sewage from the city; and the Des Plaines River west of Chicago emptied into the Illinois River, which eventually flows to the Mississippi. Chicago residents drew their drinking water from polluted areas of the lake near the mouth of the Chicago River, leading to outbreaks of typhoid and other waterborne diseases.
Water Supply & Control
San Antonio's River Walk, a catalyst for abundant commercial and tourism enterprise, is generally regarded by cities and urban planners throughout the world as a prototype for the development of urban riverfront sites. The River Walk's success, however, would not have been possible without a series of flood-control and architecture projects completed in the first half of the 20th century that relied heavily on civil-engineering expertise.
Morris Canal was built to transport coal from the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania to industrial markets in Newark and New York. The total length of the canal was 106 miles. The canal climbed an astonishing 914 feet from Newark Bay to the summit at Lake Hopatcong, and then dropped 760 feet to the Delaware River at Phillipsburg. This gave the canal an average vertical slope of 18 feet per mile, steep compared to the contemporary Erie Canal's relatively gentle slope of one foot per mile.
A tiny village on the Rio Grande River in northern New Mexico became the training center for the first American hydrographers and provided the first stream-gauging operations of the U.S. Geological Survey. To plan any water system, it is necessary to know the amount of water flowing in the stream or river at all times - including low, normal, and flood conditions.
"Eads had to succeed in the face of conventional wisdom which doomed him to disaster. Entrenched authorities not only completely dismissed his theories, but pointed to the indifferent European experiences with what he proposed."
- ASCE Landmark Nomination Proposal, 1982
The first electric power generated by the Theodore Roosevelt Dam for commercial use was transmitted over a high-voltage line to Phoenix, where it was employed to operate the city's new streetcar system.
After an initial difficulty in attracting customers (who were used to getting their water from public pumps and private wells and cisterns), Philadelphia's waterworks soon couldn't keep up with demand. John Davis and Frederick Graff designed a complete remodeling of the system in 1811 so that it could supply the city's growing needs.
Known as "the highest and lowest holing in history," the tunnel bored through the Rockies at an elevation of 9,200 feet, 2,800 feet below the surface. Eight hundred men worked around the clock for 3 1/2 years, moving 3 billion pounds of rock.
This was America's first large-scale activated sludge plant. The successful operation of Milwaukee's sewage treatment plant led the way for many other American municipalities to adopt its methods of efficient environmental recycling.
Prior to 1925, sewage and industrial waste from the City of Milwaukee and its suburbs (then population 500,000) was discharged to the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers, which converge in Milwaukee and flow together through a single outlet into Lake Michigan.
The city of Shreveport could not justify the cost of building a water distribution system solely for the purpose of supplying potable water. It was a series of disastrous fires in the 1880s that galvanized support for a pumping facility that would provide ample water for firefighting.