In a milestone moment for the residents of Visakhapatnam, the city witnessed the inauguration of its first protected water supply system through a piped network on December 18, 1901. Prior to this significant development, the inhabitants had relied on wells for their drinking water needs. As the town expanded and the population grew, municipal authorities had endeavored to address water shortages by improving existing wells and digging new ones.
During seasons of drought, the reliance on wells became increasingly challenging, often leading to the necessity of digging temporary wells in locations such as Dykes tank near the present Turner’s Choultry and Nerellakoneru in Allipuram.
The municipal authorities had contemplated the idea of a protected water supply system from the early 1880s. Recognizing the Hanumanthawaka stream as the only perennial source close to the city, the scheme was officially sanctioned in 1896-97 with an estimated cost of Rs 4.21 lakh. Half of this amount was granted by the provincial government, while the municipality secured the remaining as a loan at a rate of 4.25%, repayable over 30 years.
According to Vijjeswarapu Edward Paul, a history enthusiast and heritage conservationist, the plan involved constructing a barrier on the Hanumanthawaka stream at Mudasarlova to create a reservoir with a catchment area of about six square miles, capable of storing approximately 25 million cubic feet of water.
“The construction of the project was undertaken by the public works department. The residents of the city experienced their first taste of protected water on December 18, 1901, although the completion of the entire project took some additional time. The water supply scheme was officially handed over to the municipality on May 21, 1903,” explained Paul.
Initially, the water supply did not cover areas such as Waltair and Dondaparthy. Due to the higher elevation of Waltair, a pumping station was established to pump water from the service reservoir, and protected water was first supplied to Waltair on April 28, 1915.
The municipality distributed water through public taps initially, with tap connections not extended to individual houses. In 1917, the extension of pipelines to the northern portion of Allipuram and the Hindu crematorium ground was made possible through a contribution by the Rani of Wadhwan. Subsequently, tap connections were provided to institutions such as King George Hospital, Government Hospital for Mental Care, and the jail for their exclusive use. This pioneering initiative marked a transformative chapter in the city’s history, ensuring a more reliable and centralized water supply for its residents.