Many of us today take for granted the dependable supply of clean water that comes out of our tap each and every day. However, 74-years ago Cincinnatians experienced the 1937 flood – the only time in Water Works history that it was unable to provide water to its customers. Below is an excerpt taken from Bill Reeves’ book on the history of Greater Cincinnati Water Works as well as images (far below) of the 1937 Flood.
“On Sunday January 24th (often referred to as Black Sunday) with water approaching the windowsills at both the River and Main Stations, shutdown appeared to be inevitable. Realizing this, efforts were directed throughout the day to fill all storage reservoirs to overflow. The Western Hills Station was operated with the engines’ flywheels partially submerged until all storage was at the overflow level. Having accomplished this goal, the Main and Western Hills stations were shut down at 6:10 PM with the river level at 75.5 feet. Flooding of the buildings was now inescapable and the Main Station was abandoned.”
Water rose 80-feet above flood stage - the highest to date. Plaques have been erected at Water Works’ River and Main Stations permanently marking the high water level reached. A faint stain can still be seen in the limestone at the Main Station as a result of the 1937 flood. Since then, Water Works' facilities have been protected against a flood of similar magnitude. In addition, a flood wall has been erected and Water Works has taken several operational measures to prevent a similar situation from happening again.