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The Birth of WSSC Water

vintage wssc logo

What is now known as WSSC Water began as The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) on May 1, 1918. The Commission was the brainchild of the era's public health officials and civic activists. However, to bring it into existence, it took the devoted efforts of civic leaders like Montgomery County politician E. Brooke Lee and T. Howard Duckett, a prominent Prince George's County attorney generally recognized as the "founding father" of WSSC Water.

Abel Wolman

Among those who worked on the original surveys that led to our creation was world-renowned engineer Abel Wolman, widely known as the father of modern sanitary engineering. Among his many contributions, perhaps most significant was his development of chlorination, which made it possible to curb waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

From our very beginning, WSSC Water was "under the gun" to produce results, because the District of Columbia had strongly complained that its streams were being fouled by waste from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.

Our first official meeting was held on May 15, 1918. Since then, other notable firsts have included:

  • William T.S. Curtis was elected as the first WSSC Water Chairman.
  • Arthur Williams was named Secretary/Treasurer and became the WSSC Water's first paid employee (at the rate of $50 per month).
  • Robert B. Morse was appointed as the first Chief Engineer and rented the WSSC Water's initial office space (at $18 per month).
  • In July, 1918, WSSC Water sold its first bonds, a $50,000 issue.
  • In 2016, WSSC Water named its first female general manager and CEO, Carla A. Reid.


There were only 30,000 people in WSSC Water's service area when we started. Now there are 1.9 million!

A Visual History of Our Century of Service

Beyond the pipes Book Cover

"Beyond the Pipes" provides a compelling history of WSSC Water, with untold stories and compelling images. All proceeds from sales of the book support the Water Fund. Get yours today!

Buy 'Beyond the Pipes' Now! 

Last Modified: July 25, 2022, 2:29 pm EDT