About our Water System

Columbia Water has more than 350,000 customers in the midlands

Columbia Water operates and maintains the drinking water treatment, distribution, and storage system that serves the City of Columbia’s customers. These customers include: properties located inside the city limits, major portions of Richland County, portions of Lexington County and other local communities.

Our Source Waters

Columbia gets its water from the Broad River Diversion Canal and Lake Murray.

Together, the two plants produce an average of 60 million gallons of water per day

  • The City serves approximately 375,000 customers in Richland and Lexington Counties.
  • The City has more than 2,400 miles of underground pipeline.
  • The City controls the pumps and tank levels all over the distribution system through remote signals from the water plants.
Water Works History

Columbia's water system dates back to the early 1800s

Empowered by an act of the state legislature in 1818, lawyer and part-time school teacher Colonel Abram Blanding was contracted to finance and construct the town’s first water system.

Springs in Seaboard Park, now known as Finlay Park, were originally used as a water source. The water was drawn from reservoirs by a steam pumping engine, shipped from England in 1820, and was then distributed through cast iron and lead pipes along streets now known as Main, Elmwood, Senate, Sumter, Marion, Bull and Taylor.

In 1903, Columbia City Council passed an ordinance creating the Commission of Water and Water Works. Its mission was to ensure that the City of Columbia would have access to a plentiful supply of water. The Commission oversaw the construction of the region’s first “modern” water treatment plant. It was called the Columbia Broad River Canal Water Treatment Plant and went into operation in 1906 with a pumping capacity of six (6) million gallons per day (mgd).

To meet growing needs of Columbia and the surrounding area, the Lake Murray Water plant was added to the water system in 1983.

Since those early years, the Columbia Water Works has been expanded many times to meet the ever-increasing water needs of Columbia and its surrounding areas. Today the Canal facility has a rated capacity of 84 million gallons per day. The Canal Water Treatment Plant also includes a certified laboratory where over 200,000 samples are tested each year. Over the last two decades considerable investment has been made to modernize the facilities, replace aging equipment, and ensure compliance with ever tightening regulatory standards.

The Lake Murray facility currently pumps and average of 30 million gallons a day with capacity of 75 million gallons per day. This means that the city of Columbia will be able to provide approximately 159 million gallons of clean water to all of its customers, creating additional capacity for the projected growth of the area in to the 21st century.