History of Dubuque's Drinking Water

Early Water Sources
Water is as necessary as the air we breathe. Without it our body would wither into parchment.

In 1838, recognizing Dubuque's need for a reliable water supply, the town Trustees ordained that:

"For the better supply of good and wholesome water and in order to guard against the destruction of property by fire, the President be hereby authorized in a contract and have constructed in a substantial manner, three public wells in such situation in the town as will most suit the public convenience."

Additional wells were dug and they were augmented by cisterns to serve as the city's primary source of water for the next 30 years.

A new water source was found by accident in 1864 when lead miners attempting to lower the water level in a mine south of Kaufmann Avenue blasted a tunnel at the base of the hill and tapped a spring that gushed forth approximately 400,000 gallons of water per day. The spring continued to flow freely, and in 1870 a group of enterprising businessmen received City Council permission to form a water works corporation to take advantage of this ample supply of high quality water.

The spring's high elevation allowed water to be gravity fed to most of the city.

Continue on to read about Dubuque's first pumping station