Before the Montebello Filtration Plant came to be in 1915, Baltimore received its water from various sources. Mostly at the direction of the City Commissioners to form a water company, for fire protection. Wells were sunk and springs directed to fountains. But like every other growing city, Baltimore had its fair share of problems – drought, pollution, pestilence, etc.
In 1854 the Bureau of Water Supply became a Municipal Utility Corporation. 1861 saw Swann Lake (Lake Roland), Hampden Reservoir and the new Mt Royal Reservoir put into service. These received water from the Jones Falls. In 1864 the City started construction of Lake Chapman (Druid Lake). By 1866, Mayor Chapman realized the inadequacy of the Jones Falls, so authorization for the purchase of lands along the Gunpowder Falls began. 1869-70 saw one of the worst droughts in Baltimore history. In 1871 a reservoir at Pimlico was built, but this was still receiving water from the Jones Falls, which was failing. 1873 saw an urgent need for a supplementary water supply. A temporary pump, pumping station and a 36-inch cast iron discharge water main were constructed for the delivery of the Gunpowder Falls water from Meredith’s Ford Bridge to Roland Run, a tributary of the Jones Falls, above Lake Roland. The water flow would be forced at a rate of 10 million gallons a day into Roland Run, a distance of 3-1/2 miles. To the dismay of the property owners. This was known as the Temporary Supply.