History of the Water Treatment Plant


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 briToledo Water Works 1911cks. 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 inBrookford 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.

In 1941, the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant began operation with an 80 million gallons per day capacity.

Click the link below to read the full story of the water supply system construction in 1941:

1941 Toledo Lake Erie Water Supply System

1939 Pipe Construction1940 Pipe Construction

Building Construction


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).  


In 2009, the potassium permanganate feed system facility is started up to continuously feed permanganate year-round to control the zebra mussel from clogging the water intake and damaging water treatment lines. Potassium permanganate is a proven means to effectively control the zebra mussels.

Below is a picture of the zebra mussels clogging a line prior to implementing the potassium permanganate treatment.

Zebra Mussels


During 2011, improvements to the High Service Pumping Station are started to increase the capacity and improve motor speed controls.  Pumps 1 and 5 are updated to variable frequency drive.

The solar panel project at the Collins Park location is completed. The cost of the solar project was funded by a U.S Department Energy grant, Port Authority bonds, and IPS Energy Ventures. IPS Energy Ventures will own the field for 10 years, then the ownership will be pass to the city. The solar panel field consists of 12,300 panels and is expected to produce at least 1 million kilowatt hours of energy per year.


In 2012, the water system improvements made to keep our water system functioning at peak performance levels and to maximize service reliability and value include:

      • Conversion of Synchronous High Service Pump 1 motor controls to variable frequency drive to improve motor speed controls
      • Replaced all flocculator drive systems for Basin 2 with variable frequency drive systems to increase energy efficiency and reliability



Toledo's Water Treatment Plant has an outstanding record of success, consistently maintaining compliance with drinking water quality regulations. Our outstanding performance in 2013 was achieved through a proactive commitment by our staff to produce a higher level of drinking water safety and reliability than is currently required by law. Over 454,000 customers in the greater Toledo area benefit from the City's proactive approach to drinking water quality.

Water system improvements made in 2013 to keep our water system functioning at peak performance levels and to maximize service reliability and value includes: 

      • Initiated roof replacement project for the 40 Million Gallon per Day Plant
      • Replaced impeller for Wash Water Pump 2
      • Rebuilt motor, drive, and pump for Heatherdowns Pump Station Pump 3 to improve reliability and efficiency
      • Installed Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometer for the detection of taste and odor compounds in the raw water (Left)
      • Upgraded Total Organic Carbon Analyzer for the detection of TOCs (Right)
      • Installed Optical Emission Spectrometer for the detection of toxin metals (Bottom)

Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometer          Total Organic Carbon Analyzer

Optical Emission Spectrometer


Several water system improvements are made to Collins Park to enchance the water treatment process:

        • Deficiencies in the alum feed system are corrected
        • Repairs are made to the sedimentation vents
        • Construction of the new disinfection facility begins
        • New SCADA system starts implementation
        • Main water valve actuators upgrade begins



During 2015, the east and west plant roof project, the new disinfection facility, the HAB improvements, the elevated storage tank rehabilitation are completed. The Low Service renovation project begins.

As part of the HAB improvements, the Water Treatment Plant installs a Cyanotoxin Automated Assay System to assist with detecting accurate cyanotoxin levels.

 Cyanotoxin Automated Assay System