A Long History of Water Service

Public water service in Chattanooga began in 1850 when pipes were installed to bring water from artesian wells to the homes of Chattanooga's 2,500 inhabitants.

In 1856 the area's first water company, Chattanooga Water Corporation, was established. The Union Army took possession of the existing system in 1863. Under the direction of General Ulysses S. Grant, a steam boiler and pump were built at the foot of Pine Street to take water from the Tennessee River.
Wooden storage tanks were built on the side of Cameron Hill and approximately two miles of six-inch pipes were installed.

After the war, a group of local business people purchased the system at public auction and formed the Chattanooga Water Company.

On March 11, 1868, Chattanooga Water Company was granted a charter of incorporation by the Tennessee legislature. The firm was sold to Colonel George H. Hazelhurst and became the Lookout Water Company. It supplied most of the city's water. A nine million gallon reservoir on Cameron Hill and a pumping station at the corner of Water and Pine Streets were erected. Water was pumped from the river to the reservoir. It then flowed into the distribution system by gravity. Water mains were installed and Chattanooga had its first fire protection service.

Continued pollution of the Tennessee River forced the water company to relocate its intakes upstream of the city.

Unable to finance such a major project, Lookout Water Company, as well as another local company, Mountain Springs Water Company, were sold in 1887 to the American Water Works and Guarantee Company, the forerunner of American Water Works Company, Inc. Both systems were consolidated to
become the City Water Company of Chattanooga. Rapid progress was made. A new pumping station was built at the mouth of Citico Creek, many miles of water mains were installed, and new storage facilities and filters were added. In 1892, Chattanooga became the second city in the south to have filtered water. The name of the water company was changed in 1973 to Tennessee American Water Company.

Much growth and many improvements have occurred since the 1850s. Today, Tennessee American Water’s water system includes 1,280 miles of water main, 23 water storage tanks, 5,065 fire hydrants, 29 pumping stations and a 65 mgd award winning water treatment facility.

And the company remains a leader today, just as it was in 1892. Today, Tennessee American Water's Citico Water Treatment plant is one of only eight water treatment facilities in Tennessee to be participating in the USEPA's Partnership for Safe Water, a voluntary program designed to provide water treatment that goes well beyond the minimum required by regulators.  Tennessee American Water has received the Director's Award recognizing its participation in the program in each of the past nine years.