McMillan Reservoir’s Circulating Conduit Building

Circulating Conduit Building in the McMillan Reservoir.

Circulating Conduit Building in the McMillan Reservoir.

I’ve renewed an interest in Washington’s water infrastructure, which I’ll write about in the future.  But before I do, I wanted to revisit the small brick building in the middle of the north end of McMillan Reservoir, which I’ve learned is the circulating conduit building.

It was designed in 1904 and is designed — like many of the other buildings at McMillan — in the  Georgian Revival-style. The building  is only accessible by boat.

Typical of the other period buildings at McMillan Reservoir, the Circulating Conduit features Flemish bond brick walls, hipped roofs with brick corbelling, and orange-red interlocking terrace cotta roofing tiles. The building rests on an arch of concrete over the pipes which debouch water into the basin at this point.

A concrete conduit along the basin floor extends from the East Shaft Gatehouse — located at the southwestern end of the reservoir — to the Circulating Conduit Structure. This ensures that the water entering the reservoir enters at the western end of the reservoir and is subject to the maximum setting time before being pumped up to the filter beds at the eastern end of the reservoir.

The other structure in the reservoir is a cylindrical turreted structure located over Smith Springs, an important early source of water for the city.  You can read more about Smith Springs at this earlier post.

Circulating conduit(Circulating Conduit building in foreground, with the Smith Springs turret in the distance).

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6 Comments on “McMillan Reservoir’s Circulating Conduit Building”

  1. TL Says:

    Very interesting. DC’s water infrastructure is crumbling. People are happy as long as they turn on the faucet and water comes out. They have no idea that the pipes below the ground are leaking millions of gallons or water and in some areas of the city are still made of wood (which is rotting).

  2. Frank Says:

    great! interesting post.

  3. Monkeydaddy Says:

    And excellent use of the word “debouch”!
    Reading the other article, it’s not clear to me whether the turret building is a functional way to collect water from a still-productive Smith Springs, or a commemorative marker of sorts. Attractive and stylish nonetheless.

  4. D. Chambers Says:

    Wow – excellent post! Very interesting. I’ve always wondered about that little house in the reservoir. Best to you!


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