The history of Central Arkansas Water and water service in the area dates back well over 150 years. A basic system of providing and transporting water to homes and businesses has today become Arkansas’ largest water utility, one nationally-known for excellent water quality, exemplary regulatory compliance, outstanding system reliability, affordable rates, exceptional customer service, and strong public involvement.
Initially, water was pumped directly from the Arkansas River into the distribution system. This was good for firefighting but not for drinking. A yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in 1879 prompted the Little Rock City Council to seek a solution to the area’s water quality problems. In 1886, two basins were constructed on Ozark Point, which today is the site of our Ozark Point Water Treatment Plant. Water was pumped into the basins from the river and allowed to “settle” before flowing into the distribution system. The process significantly increased the water quality at the time.
In 1936, the City of Little Rock and the water utility at the time started construction of a dam on the Alum Fork of the Saline River. Plans for a comprehensive supply project included the dam and lake (later named Lake Winona); a 39-inch-diameter, 35-mile raw water line; a new purification plant at Ozark Point; and an auxiliary reservoir 3 miles west of the plant. The buildings at the Lake Winona pump station were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp and Works Progress Administration as part of the New Deal.
Construction began in July 1936 and the project was completed in May 1938. The first water from the new supply flowed into the system on April 17, 1938.