A look back on Greenville, SC’s drinking water history

water piece

We’re honoring Drink Up Week with, arguably, Greenville’s best drink: water.

Today, Greenville Water serves more than 500,000 residents in the Upstate and sources from three reservoirs: Table Rock Reservoir, North Saluda Reservoir, and Lake Keowee. According to the 2021 Water Quality Report, Greenville water meets EPA standards + has won multiple Best Taste awards (keep reading to see which ones and when). But what events trickled down in years past for our water to be the best?

Let’s look at some pivotal moments that made Greenville’s water what it is today:

1880s-1930s

1889: The American Pipe Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia, PA builds the first water system in Greenville, which served 8,600 residents.

lake placid

Reservoir #2 at Paris Mountain | Photo via Greenville County Library System

1899: The company becomes known as Paris Mountain Water Company + builds the first reservoir on the northeast slope of Paris Mountain to serve Greenville. A 12-inch water main (think: about half as wide as the length of a loaf of Swamp Rabbit’s Stecca) ran eight miles to Greenville, carrying the water by gravity. A second reservoir was built at a lower elevation on Paris Mountain in 1900.

1918: The Commissioner of Public Works of the City of Greenville purchases the original water system from Paris Mountain Water Company.

1920s-1990s

1920s-1930s: The Table Rock Watershed is purchasedmaking history as the first water system to have full land ownership for a drinking reservoir — and Table Rock Reservoir is constructed + begins operation.

1950s: The North Saluda Watershed is purchased and the Poinsett Reservoir (aka North Saluda Reservoir) is constructed to support Greenville’s growing population.

1985: Lake Keowee is added as another Greenville water source and the Witty Adkins Water Treatment Plant opens in Pickens County.

1993: The Greenville Water Commission grants a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy, a global land conservation organization, to further protect the land.

2000s

2000: The Lyndon B. Stovall Water Treatment Plant is built — this plant uses Dissolved Air Flotation technology prior to filtration, which filters water almost 10 times clearer than required standards.

2000s-2010s: Greenville Water wins “Best of the Best” Water Taste Test in 2011, and is named “Best Tasting” water in SC three times.

Cheers to keeping hydrated with the best of the best, GVL. Stay up to date on the latest from Greenville Water and learn more about the organization here.

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