Building Lake Montebello’s water system

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Drinking water in Baltimore before the turn of the 20th century was, to put it mildly, unsanitary. Unfiltered water from streams, wells and springs were funneled to reservoirs throughout the city. Outbreaks of disease from waterborne pathogens were common, as were complaints of odor and taste.

In 1881, the Gunpowder Falls was connected to Lake Montebello, a new reservoir that improved water conditions throughout the city. But it wasn’t until Sept. 13, 1915 — 100 years ago this week — that the city’s most significant water-related development occurred with the opening of the filtration plant at the lake. It was called one of the “biggest and most important undertakings in the history of the city” by Robert L. Clemmitt, the city’s acting water engineer and president of the water board.

On Saturday, the city will celebrate the Montebello Centennial with music, activities, historical exhibits and more.

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