Following the establishment of the City of Detroit in 1701, the supply of drinking water in Detroit and its surroundings evolved from individuals collecting water daily from the river in leather buckets, to horse-driven pumps distributing river water to homes into a small network of hollowed-out wooden logs. From wooden logs to gigantic stream-driven equipment pumping thousands of gallons of raw river water, to more efficient electric pumps supplying millions of gallons of treated water for distribution through a complex network of pipes to millions of people who reside in Southeast Michigan.
From its beginnings as little more than an afterthought, sewage disposal has undergone a similarly circuitous evolution. Sewers have evolved from simple open ditches that channeled raw waste by gravity into the nearest body of water, to covered streams, to huge pipes directing flows of waste matter to technologically-advanced facilities that clean and disinfect the effluent before it's discharged into the Detroit River.
Today, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is the third largest provider of high-quality drinking water and wastewater treatment services in the United States. It has been a most incredible journey.