City Water System History

From the Yellowstone River to Your Tap
The Yellowstone River, a high-quality surface water source and the longest free-flowing river in the country, is the source of our drinking water.

On its 640-mile journey from Yellowstone Park, the water picks up contaminants, such as microorganisms, organic and inorganic contaminants, suspended solids and trace contaminants from upstream agricultural and industrial activities. The City’s water treatment facility plays a critical role in removing these contaminants to provide us with safe, high-quality drinking water.

In 1885, several prominent businessmen formed the Billings Water Power Company and began construction of a waterworks facility. At that time, the waterworks facility housed an 80-horsepower waterwheel to generate electricity for the City and a 1.25-million-gallon-a-day (MGD) pump that delivered an estimated 150,000 gallons per day of untreated water to the City through 5.25 miles of distribution pipe.

The City of Billings purchased the waterworks in 1915 for $315,000. The plant has undergone many upgrades and expansions and now provides complete conventional treatment for up to 65 MGD.