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History of MAWSS

The Mobile Water Service System came into being on October 1, 1952, when the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners entered into a contract with the City of Mobile to purchase the water and sanitary sewer systems on behalf of the city. Raw water was purchased from the City Water Works Board from 1952 to 1968. The two Boards were merged on January 1, 1968, with the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners taking over the raw water system.

The history of water service in Mobile is long and colorful, and MAWSS has roots that date to as early as 1814, when the Portage on Bayou Chotage (Three Mile Creek) was the important source of water supply for the City of Mobile. After several attempts to construct water works and aqueducts to bring water into the City, it was not until 1840 that the City met with success with its public water system, when a pump site was built about 7 miles west of the downtown area. This was Mobile's only public water system until 1886.

On April 9, 1886, the Bienville Water Supply Company constructed a pumping plant on Clear Creek off Moffett Road and a reservoir, still in use, on Moffett Road. A cast-iron pipe was installed into the heart of the City, with necessary distribution lines into the business district and residential areas in 1887. For the first time in its 175-year history, Mobile had a water supply system that approached adequacy.

After the outbreak of World War II, it became apparent that the existing sources of supply were inadequate and undependable. A new source was found at Big Creek, in the western part of Mobile County. The Big Creek project was placed in service in 1952 at a cost of about $7,000,000, including land, dams, pumphouse, reservoir and pipelines. Construction required two years.

Today, water is delivered from the 3,600-acre lake and pumping station by pipes to two reservoirs where it is diverted either to domestic or industrial use. The reservoirs are at an elevation of 220 feet and industrial water is delivered by gravity to industry at an elevation of about 25 feet. Pumps at Big Creek Lake provide treated water to Mobile and untreated water to local industries.

Historical Facts of Note
· In Mobile's first water system, some of the lines consisted of cast-iron but the majority were bored-out pine logs
· In 1819, a public well was installed at the intersection of Dauphin and Royal streets at what is now Bienville Square · Mobile's first sewer was installed in Conti Street in 1868, at the time the old Gulf City Hotel, later known as the Southern Hotel, was erected at the southeast corner of Conti and Water streets
· In 1900, a City-owned system was put into operation, with a pumping station on Three Mile Creek at the east end of what is now City park property and the reservoir, still in use, atop Spring Hill
· The Bienville and the City systems operated as virtually parallel, but separate systems until January 8, 1907, when the city acquired the Bienville holdings for $350,000