Due to construction, we will not be conducting a rain barrel sales event in 2024. Please check back in 2025. 

The History of the Portland Water District

Feb 20, 2015

In 1862, a group of citizens foresaw the necessity of improving the water supply to the Portland community to ensure continued growth. The private wells, once adequate, were no longer sufficient for increasing domestic and fire protection use. These citizens formed the Portland Water Company. In 1869, the first water flowed from Sebago Lake to Portland, and the first water service was turned on in Portland on Thanksgiving Day.

In 1908, the Portland Water District bought the Portland Water Company plant and the Standish Water and Construction Company and began serving the cities of Portland, South Portland, and Westbrook, the town of Cape Elizabeth, the Gorham Water Company, and the Falmouth Water Company.

In the 20 or so years that followed, expansion continued including the amendment of the Portland Water District's charter to supply water to the towns of Cumberland, Falmouth, and Gorham, and to the islands in Casco Bay.

During the next 45 years, Greater Portland established itself as an industrial and financial center of the state. The growth in the Portland area required several expansions of the Portland Water District's plant, including construction of water supply systems to serve North Windham, Steep Falls, Standish Village, and Standish Corner.

During the 1960s, the Portland Water District offered to handle and treat the region’s wastewater as a logical extension of its role as the regional water supply agency. Since then, the District has constructed treatment plants in Portland (1979), Westbrook (1978), Little Falls (1987), Cape Elizabeth (1987), and Peaks Island (1993). The plants serve the cities of Portland and Westbrook and towns of Gorham, Windham, and Cape Elizabeth. In addition, the District began providing wastewater maintenance and operating services to the town of Cumberland (1984).

During the 1990s and 2000s, the District has been faced with the increasing requirements mandated by the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. A new disinfection plant has been constructed at Sebago Lake (1994) and several major modifications have been made within the Portland and Westbrook wastewater systems.

We are proud of our history of successfully meeting customer’s commitments. We are proud to play a part in providing cost effective services, clean water, constant service, and a clean environment. We hope you also take Pride in Pure Water!