This new historic landmark celebrates the City’s original ‘Waterworks’

The American Society of Civil Engineers on Sept. 17 will hold an event that recognizes the current Sacramento History Museum building — one with a long history in drinking water — as a historical landmark.

The building was constructed in 1854 and was the original Sacramento City Hall and “Waterworks” building, which was the first city-owned drinking water system west of the Mississippi River. Located in Old Sacramento, it was reconstructed in 1985.

The building is being recognized because of its history in helping to innovate how water was purified and distributed, officials said.

”Sacramento in the 1850s got its water from the Sacramento River, which was like the Mississippi River — the Big Muddy — and it was almost impossible to get the silt out of the water,” said City Historian Marcia Eymann. “The Waterworks building utilized the power of gravity to help rectify that problem. People would pull dirty water directly from the river for drinking and other purposes. Residents eventually decided to tax themselves to create a system for cleaner water, even if that water was undrinkable by today’s standards.”

The City of Sacramento’s Waterworks is now called the Department of Utilities. The department ensures that the city has clean drinking water; it also oversees storm water and waste water services to residents and businesses.

“We’re very proud of our rich and long history of providing drinking water to the people of Sacramento,” said Bill Busath, director of the Department of Utilities. “As is always the case, we work around the clock to ensure drinking water meets or exceeds all state and federal regulations.”

The event, which is open to the public, will take place at 9 a.m. at the Sacramento History Museum building (101 I St.) and will be attended by staff from the City of Sacramento and American Society of Civil Engineers.