Industrial Water Heritage: How tap water came to our homes

A look at the vestiges of the technical and scientific revolution that brought tap water to our homes.

SGAB Power StationOriginal Source: Archivo Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona (SGAB)

The deployment of the entire water supply infrastructure, profoundly transformative and revolutionary in nature, would forever change the quality of people's lives.

Barcelona Universal Exhibition poster, Pere Joan Bonet, 1888, From the collection of: Museu de les Aigües
Barcelona Universal Exhibition. Palace of Industry., 1888, From the collection of: Museu de les Aigües
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It represents a qualitative leap as part of the Industrial Revolution. In a context of innovation, economic take-off and demographic growth, but also massification of the urban population.

The Broken Pitcher (1891) by William-Adolphe BouguereauLegion of Honor

The pre-industrial supply systems, already outdated, could not satisfy urban demand, neither in quality nor quantity. The frequent cholera and typhus epidemics, transmitted through water, meant a serious hazard to public health.

Water Tower of SabadellMuseu de les Aigües

Of architectural and engineering value, over the years the water infrastructures get historical meaning and heritage value. "It is the expression of the immense intellectual, financial and technological effort made during the 19th and early 20th centuries" (James Douet, 2018)

Maquinista con las bombas de vapor (1920)Museu de les Aigües

The dynamism of the time encouraged the emergence of initiatives to create new water supply systems, taking advantage of the impetus provided by the scientific and technological advances produced during the Industrial Revolution.

Vallvidrera small lakeMuseu de les Aigües

Population growth and immigration to the big cities caused an exponential increase in demand. With innovative contributions from hydraulic engineering, such as modern arch dams, water reservoirs were created with sufficient capacity to supply entire neighborhoods.

Statutes of the Barcelona Water Company, Compañía de Aguas de Barcelona, 1867, From the collection of: Museu de les Aigües
Policy of the Compañía de Aguas de Barcelona, General Society of Waters of Barcelona (SGAB), From the collection of: Museu de les Aigües
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In the case of Barcelona, ​​in 1867 the Compagnie des Eaux de Barcelone was set up in Liege, which would complete the supply project from Dosrius by bringing its water to Barcelona's Eixample.

Dosrius acueductOriginal Source: Archivo Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona (SGAB)

Built between 1867 and 1871, the Dosrius aqueduct was the first major engineering project commissioned by the Compagnie des Eaux de Barcelona to supply water to the Catalan capital.

Besòs Power Plant, steam engine room (1910)Museu de les Aigües

The industrialized implementation of the service was such a transformative process that has been named as The Water Revolution. A path that began at the end of the 19th century and that would last until the 1960s due to the Spanish Civil War and the post-war period.

Tibidabo Tower (1905) by Josep Amargós i Samaranch (building) and Joan Torras Guardiola (deposit)Museu de les Aigües

The Industrial Water Heritage in Catalonia is abundant in wealth and diversity and is scattered throughout the territory. Knowing and preserving it helps us better understand our history and preserve our identity.

Can Nyac acueductMuseu de les Aigües

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