The History of Springfield's Water Supply, Part 1

Jun 10, 2008

Loring Bullard, Executive Director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and author of a book that details the history of Springfield’s public water supply. We met at Valley Water Mill to talk about that history. This was once the site of the McCracken Mill, then, in 1889, the private company that supplied water to the city of Springfield purchased the land. Bullard says the water company faced tough scrutiny.

Bullard says part of the scrutiny also came from an increased public awareness about the connection between illness and contaminated water.

To make matters worse, the private water company was not local. It was based in Portland, Maine.

After a series of failed attempts by the city to acquire the waterworks and several years in the 1940’s of severe drought, the deal to buy the public water supply and infrastructure came to fruition the last day of 1957. The responsibility to provide Springfield with water fell on the shoulders of City Utilities, a municipal utility.

Looking back at the history of the public water supply in Springfield and how important water has been to civilization, Bullard says there’s a lot we can learn.

The history of Valley Water Mill and its connection to the public water supply for Springfield will be a featured part of the Watershed Center which will be built on the site. It's located on the northern edge of Springfield.