The history of Toledo's water system dates back to the early 1870s when the city had a population of about 30,000 people. Citizens voiced their desire for the convenience of a water system and the fire protection they might gain from it. As a result, operation of Toledo's first water works began in December 1873. The water works was located near the Maumee River in a small building known as the Broadway Pumping Station, now the site of Danny Thomas Park. Close to the building, a steel standpipe was constructed to provide a steady and reliable pressure for water distribution. A pump was used to maintain a constant level of water in the standpipe, resulting in enough head pressure to distribute water through the piping system. Approximately 220 feet high, the five foot diameter steel cylinder was surrounded by an ornate brick tower containing over two million bricks. The Commercial, October 9, 1874 called it "the largest iron column in the world." People from the surrounding areas often put the standpipe on their list of "must see" sites in Toledo. The water works had a capacity of 30,000 gallons, and water was pumped to 12 customers through 8.5 miles of pipeline during the first year of operation. It is thought that the water in the Maumee River was much cleaner then, for the water was drawn directly from the river and pumped to the residents, without treatment of any kind. As the population for Toledo increased, so did the pollution. Epidemics of typhoid and other waterborne diseases occurred as a result of people dumping sewage directly into the river and its tributaries. Residents once again voiced their concerns over water and demanded that Toledo water be treated.
On February 2, 1910, the Brookford Filtration Plant began operation on River Road near Brookford Drive. Upstream from the Broadway Pumping Station, the new plant would again use the Maumee River as its source of water. However, for the first time, filtered and treated water of a quality equal to what was obtainable from wells was supplied to Toledo consumers. It was estimated that local plumbers would lose $50,000 annually because of the absence of sand and mud in the water pipes.
After the water was treated, it flowed by gravity to the expanded Broadway Pumping Station where it was then pumped under pressure to residents. The 20 million gallons per day plant had a capacity of about one-sixth of what Toledo's existing plant can now treat and filter. The site of this treatment plant is now a city park with some of the original structures still visible.
As the city continued to grow, the availability of water and increasing pollution in the Maumee River caused Toledoans to re-examine their existing water supply system. Studies initiated in the early 1920s resulted in the decision to change Toledo's water source from the Maumee River to Lake Erie.
Although the country was recovering from the Great Depression, Toledo obtained a grant from the Public Works Administration for approximately one-half of the $10 million cost of the entire Lake Erie water supply system. In 1941, the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant began operation with an 80 million gallons per day capacity.
In 1956 the plant was expanded to 120 million gallons per day capacity by constructing a 40 million gallons per day addition. This amount could fill the Government Center (downtown) 2.6 times. Also, a second 72" diameter water main was constructed under the Maumee River. Since the 1950s, upgrades to the plant give it a 150 million gallons per day capacity.
In June of 1988, Toledo set a record for the most water pumped in one month, 3.05 billion gallons. On July 7 of the same year, Toledo set a one day pumping record of 146.8 million gallons. A 24-hour operation, the Water Division employs 80 people dedicated to providing the highest quality drinking water possible.
During the summer of 1997, a new process was brought on-line, a sludge dewatering facility. This facility consists of two storage/thickening tanks, and two presses. By using this facility, we can recycle the lime sludge into other products. This is part of our continuing effort to protect the environment. The presses are believed to be the largest presses in the United States of this type in use at a water treatment facility.
On April 19, 2004, the City of Toledo Division of Water Treatment began construction of a "Standby Backup Power Facility". This move was initiated because on August 14, 2003, a day that will live in infamy, areas of the United States and Canada experienced an electrical power failure - a blackout that virtually rocked the continent of North America. Several communities were crippled by the loss of power. Detroit, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio, among other cities, were in emergency status and without potable drinking water for days.
Miraculously, the City of Toledo's Water Treatment facilities were spared from this blackout. However, the City of Toledo?s Department of Public Utilities Director realized that Toledo needed a "Backup Standby Power Facility".
Construction of the Collins Park Standby Power Generation Facility, at a cost of $6,497,000.00, provides for the continued operation of the Collins Park Water Treatment Facility in an efficient and productive manner, as well as enabling us to continue to provide an abundant supply of potable water for our community in the event of an outage of the existing power supply.
The Collins Park Water Filtration Plant serves over 500,000 residents and now has a backup source of electricity if the electrical power plant in our community ever goes down. Currently, there are 8 major customers that draw water directly from the City of Toledo. These customers are Toledo (Ohio), Wood County (Ohio), Sylvania (Ohio), Maumee (Ohio), Monroe County (Michigan), Perrysburg (Ohio), and Northwest and Southwest Lucas County (Ohio).
The Standby Backup Power Facility at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant has five generators that run on diesel fuel, which is stored on site. It is an outstanding and innovative "State of the Art" facility that should serve our community for many decades.
Below are pictures of the Standby Backup Power Facility operations areas and equipment: