Past, present and future: Moscow water supply system turns 215

October 31, 2019
City administration

Past: water fountains and Alekseyevskaya water-pump station

Presumably, the history of Moscow water supply system began 240 years ago, in July 1779, when Catherine the Great signed a decree 'On Clean Water Supply in Moscow' after the plague riot. Water had to be delivered from the Gromovoi spring located 25 km to the north-east of Moscow (near Mytishchi).

Despite the fact that the military garrison under the command of Prince Mikhail Volkonsky provided daily 400 soldiers for the works, it took 25 years to construct the water pipeline to open on 28 October 1804, as the process was interrupted by the Russian-Turkish war.

Until 1937, Mytishchi-Moscow water supply system remained the main source of drinking water for Moscow. It was some 20 km long complex structure. Water flowed by gravity into water fountains to be further distributed around the city. Citizens used about 40,000 buckets per day, that is 492 cu m water. The project involved a greater water flow, but because of constant leaks, not all the water could reach Moscow.

The water supply system was partly underground and partly open. Water drains were arranged in many places, so that the inhabitants could wash clothes and water the horses. Although water was not filtered, people appreciated its amazing taste. Sometimes it was even called healing.

In 1826, the soil broke down on the grounds of Sokolnicheskaya Grove, damaging the canal. The broken pipe was never found. It was decided to bring the bypass pipe to the Alekseyevskaya water-pump. Water was raised to the second floor of the Sukhareva tower, into a cast-iron tank with a capacity of 5,000 buckets. From the tower, water was flowing to the Sheremetevsky, Nikolsky, Petrovsky, Voskresensky and Varvarsky fountains.

Two of them have survived. Petrovsky fountain is located on Teatralnaya Square and Nikolsky fountain is in Neskuchny Garden, near the old building of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences. They were designed by Ivan Vitali, a master of decorative sculpture.

In the early 19th century, Moscow had two more water pipelines laid, with water flowing from the Moskva River to residential areas. The first pipeline daily delivered 34,000 buckets of water to Arbatskaya and Tverskaya squares, the second one supplied 100,000 buckets of water to Zatsepa Street (today there is Paveletsky railway station there), to Serpukhovskaya and Kaluzhskaya areas, Polyanka and Pyatnitskaya streets.

The water was of poor quality, often muddy and dirty. When the iron pipes froze, the water supply stopped altogether. That is why both water pipes were closed, having worked for less than 20 years.

Архивный фонд города Москвы

Over time, the capacity of water supply systems was already not enough for a city with a rapidly growing population. Therefore, four more pipelines appeared in Moscow by 1888, Preobrazhensky, Andreyevsky, Khodynsky and Arteziansky. They took water from drilled wells.

In the 1850s, steam engines at the Alekseyevskaya water-pump station were replaced. This allowed 500,000 buckets of water to be supplied to the Sukhareva tower. To prevent interruptions, one more row of cast-iron pipes was laid between two constructions.

From 1890 to 1893, engineer Nikolai Zimin carried out reconstruction work on the Mytishchi water pipeline. Krestovskaya Zastava had water towers constructed. Alexeyevskaya station sent water there. From the towers, it flew to the Moscow water network.

By the late 19th century, the Moscow water supply network was 110 km long, with water consumption about 1.5 million buckets per day. By 1901, it increased to 3.5 million buckets.

In 1903, the Rublyovskaya water-pump (now the Rublyovskaya Water Treatment Plant) was put into operation on the right bank of the Moskva River. Today it is the oldest one of the four operating Moscow stations.

Rublyovskaya Dam, 1930s

The population was growing, the industry was developing, and Moscow needed more and more water. In 1931, it was decided to build the Moscow-Volga channel, designed to connect two rivers. As early as May 1937, the water channel stretching from the Akulovo village to the Stalinskaya (Eastern) water station launched. In July, citizens enjoyed drinking water from the Volga source.

In 1952, Northern water supply station was put into operation, followed by Western water supply station launched in 1964.

Present: about 135 l water per day per person

Modern water supply system comprises many facilities. It is as long as it is from Moscow to Singapore, that is 13,000 km. On average, a citizen consumes about 135 litres of water per day, with total daily water supply being about 3 million cu m.

Since 1994, daily water supply has halved, due to water meters mounted in each flat. Paying for the actual water consumption, citizens consume much less water now.

Moscow water complex includes surface and underground water supply sources. The composition of natural water is formed in Moscow, Smolensk and Tver regions.

Two water treatment stations, Rublyovskaya and Zapadnaya, are located at the Moskvoretsky water source. Northern and Eastern water stations are located at the Volzhsky water source. Each of them serves its own area depending on the geographical location. The stations' total rated capacity is 6,370 cu m per day.

Before the water gets to your tap, it is thoroughly cleaned. Purification technologies have changed over time. Until 1904, mechanical sand filtration was used, with coagulation added later providing lime extraction from the water. Since 1916, chlorination has been applied. A two-stage purification system is still used. The water is first settled and then filtered.

Today, it takes 8 to 12 hours for water to get from the water intake to your tap. After cleaning, it is drinkable.

Gradually, the two-stage cleaning system has been supplemented with new technologies. So, Rublyovskaya and Western water treatment stations have introduced ozonation and sorption facilities based on granular activated carbon with a capacity of 1,140 cu m per day. One of the Western station units applies innovative membrane ultrafiltration system.

Ozone sorption technology allows to completely clean the water from almost all organic impurities. After treatment, water has a better taste and colour, no any foreign smells. At the water treatment plants, ozone is produced in special equipment that extracts it from oxygen by an electric discharge.

Treatment of water with ozone allows to break down organic pollution that settles down and gets completely removed from water at the carbon filtration stage.

Future: construction of new units 

In Moscow, the work is underway to improve the quality of drinking water. A project is being developed for the construction of new units of treatment facilities at the Western station. Their total capacity will make up 500,000 cu m of water per day.

All technological processes at the station are fully automated. Specialists can manage the entire station from a single control room. After commissioning of ozone sorption facilities, the volume of water treated with innovative technologies will make up more than 70%.


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