Water you doing, Dayton?

In the late 1800s, sinks had 3 faucets. Far left was hot rainwater, far right was cold, and the middle was Holly Water. Also known as drinking water, Holly Water got its name because the first city waterworks used Holly’s Patent Elliptical Rotary Pumps to get water from two wells. The rainwater came from cisterns in people’s yards, collected from roof runoff and brought into the house via pumps.

Before Holly Water, residents drank well water, benefiting from the filtering effects of the porous sub-soil. By the 1860s as more and more people moved into Dayton, those water sources became compromised, with an increasing amount of cesspools infringing on the borders of these wells. This led to the first Board of Health being created in 1868. A Committee was formed to address the issues, ultimately choosing the “Holly System.”

Not everyone in Dayton drank Holly Water. Bottled water was popular in that time, with brands like Lily Water, invented and patented by Adam Schantz Sr., owner of the Dayton Breweries Company. Lily Water was originally created to provide pure water for brewing. Holly water was not pure enough for the beer making process, so Adam Sr. created a more pure water type and named it Lily Water, after the calla lily on the Schantz family crest. Adam Sr. sold Lily Water to other breweries, and installed and refilled water coolers in downtown offices and manufacturing plants. Lily water no longer exists, having been replaced over time with other purified waters and the Dayton Breweries Company.

The water system remains today, spanning over most of Montgomery County, including Dayton, Kettering, Vandalia, Riverside, Trotwood, Brookville, and some of Greene County, and even the Dayton International Airport – coverage of over 65 square miles. These water distribution pipes can carry up to 75 MGD – Million Gallons per Day.

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