Straight from the Tap

A Moment in History – The Garrett A. Morgan Water Treatment Plant


In a city that sits at the midpoint of a lake with over 100 trillion gallons of water, it is surprising to many that the lake was not the origin of this city’s water supply. It wasn’t until the mid 1850’s that water from the lake became the main supply source; before that, water came from spring wells and was not filtered, leading to many water borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

In 1853, the City of Cleveland hired Theodore Scowden, a waterworks engineer from Cincinnati, who designed the city’s water system as we know it. The initial system that Scowden designed was made to supply water to an area of about 1/3 square mile with a pumping station located near the shore of Lake Erie. The water would be sent to a high level reservoir, just south of the pumping station on Kentucky Street and then gravity would take the water and filter it throughout the city. 

As more people began to settle in the city, the demand for water increased. In addition, the water at the intake crib was becoming increasingly lower in quality. The city needed to find a way to improve the quality of water and reach a larger region of the area. In 1917, ground was broken to begin construction of the Division Avenue Pumping Station. The Division Avenue Pumping Station was a modern marvel at the time. This one-story, brick building was built with two wings, each housing 18 filters, administrative offices and testing laboratories. The completion of this building was historic and would change the way water was distributed in the city. 

In 1991, the Division Avenue Pumping Station was renamed to honor Garrett A. Morgan, a native Clevelander and inventor. Morgan rescued miners trapped during an explosion in a collapsed Cleveland water tunnel in 1916, utilizing his own invention, the gas safety mask.

In 2001, ground broke for a new pumping station at the same location which was fully operational in 2005 and continues to serve safe drinking water to Cleveland Water’s customers to this day. 

For a full timeline of Cleveland Water history, visit the link!