BGMU pumps water from Barren River into the Water Treatment Plant. Water passes through a screen to remove plant debris and fish. Then, treatment chemicals are added which cause small particles to clump together and remove contaminants. Flocculation, the clumping together of particles called "floc", takes place in the sedimentation tank.
Cleaner, settled water is sent to filters, which remove fine particles that were not removed during sedimentation. Filtered water is chlorinated and sent to the clearwell where disease-causing bacteria are destroyed. Finally, pumps are used to deliver clean drinking water to water storage tanks and your home.
Bowling Green’s water system dates back to 1868 when the Water Commission bought approximately 7.5 acres of land on Chestnut Street to be used for a pumping station. Another 7 acres of land was purchased on Reservoir Hill for distribution of water to the town. The cost of this system was $125,000 and had a pumping capacity of 648,000 gallons per day.
The water system consisted of cast iron pipes laid throughout town, which is the present downtown area. Water was pumped directly from Barren River to the Open Reservoir, which was constructed in 1871.
The first water treatment facility was completed in 1928 on Chestnut Street. The plant’s capacity was 3 million gallons of water per day. Also constructed in 1928 was a 150,000 gallon elevated storage tank on Western’s campus.
In 1930, 3,000 meters were installed, and a rate system for billing was implemented.
In May of 1957 a 5 million gallon reservoir tank was built on Hospital Hill. At the time this was the largest “umbrella-roofed” structure of its kind in the world. With the construction of this tank, the Open Reservoir was no longer used.
In 1966, construction was completed on the 1 million gallon red, white and blue storage tank located next to the 5 million gallon reservoir tank. In 1972, a 1 million gallon storage tank was constructed on Nashville Road to increase service and fire protection to the Nashville, Russellville and Morgantown Road areas.
In March of 1976, the Water-Sewer Sanitation Commission merged with the Electric Plant Board to form Bowling Green Municipal Utilities.
The next major renovation occurred in 1980. This expansion to the Treatment Plant increased plant capacity to 15 million gallons per day. A 1 million gallon storage tank was constructed on Cave Mill Road behind Greenwood Mall. In 1985 another major expansion increased plant capacity to 22.5 million gallons per day. In 2002, another expansion project began. By 2005, the plant's capacity was 30 million gallons per day. The iconic WKU water tank, which can store 2.5 million gallons, was also constructed during this time period.
Today, the Water Treatment Plant produces and pumps water to five elevated water storage tanks through more than 320 miles of water mains. It produces water for both wholesale and retail customers, serving approximately 120,000 people. Combined with the Wastewater Treatment Plant, there are approximately 75 employees. Crews are on call 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.