For decades, Austin Water Utility has provided clean, reliable water and wastewater services to Austin residents. Many additions and improvements have kept the system in step with technology and Austin's growing population.
Austin’s first organized water system began in 1871 when a private company, under a franchise granted by the City, began pumping water from the Colorado River. In 1893, the 60-foot high Austin Dam, and the subsequently formed Lake Austin, was completed in the hopes that cheap hydroelectricity would lure business. After a catastrophic failure on April 7, 1900 that led to parts of the city being flooded and destroyed the water and power facility, the City bought out the private water company and formed what is today the Austin Water Utility.
In 1923, Dr. E.P. Schoch, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, created a simple chemical treatment that used lime to treat river water. The Green Water Treatment Plant was built in 1925 to use this treatment method. "Modern" water treatment had become a reality in Austin.
The City decommissioned the Green Water Treatment Plant September 2008; currently, the Davis and Ullrich Water Treatment Plants currently serve the City, and Water Treatment Plant 4 is under construction.
The City's first wastewater treatment facility was built in 1919 using a tank to settle wastewater solids. In 1937, the tank system was replaced by the Govalle Wastewater Treatment Plant, a revolutionary facility using a relatively new treatment process using activated sludge. The Govalle Plant was decommissioned October 2006, and Austin is currently served by the Walnut Creek and South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plants.