1923–1949 The American Red Cross set up a surgical dressing unit at OUC during WWII.
On the Homefront
America entered the Second World War
after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on
created jobs. The state’s citrus industry also
December 7, 1941. As our country fought
began to thrive, fueling growth throughout
for freedom on the battlegrounds of Europe
and the Pacific, OUC helped on the
DRINKING WATER Orlando Utilities Commission was established on the principle of providing
from the Depression, as defense contracts
To keep pace, OUC embarked mid-decade
homefront — keeping the power on and the
on a major expansion of the water treatment
water flowing for the citizens of Orlando.
and electric generation facilities. The new
And that wasn’t always easy. According to
Lake Highland Plant, containing both electric
Orlando: A Centennial History, in June of
generation and water treatment equipment,
1942, street lights were cut off “when the
would be built west of Lake Highland, south
city faced an acute power shortage due to
of the railroad tracks, directly across from the
lack of oil. Merchants were asked to cut air
existing plant. OUC also constructed a new
safe, high-quality water to its customers. The water system facilities owned
conditioning and display lights, and municipal
water main system that replaced many of the
and operated by the newly formed OUC were described in detail in an
lights were discontinued, with the exception
original mains that were installed beginning
of traffic signals.”
in 1886. A 20-inch main was laid from the
October 13, 1930 newspaper article titled “Orlando Utilities: A Great Success.”
Throughout some of the darkest years in
The following excerpt is from that article and illustrates OUC’s commitment to providing the highest quality water for its customers. he water supply of the City of Orlando is a source of considerable pride and satisfaction to the citizens because of the high quality of the water for domestic and commercial purposes. The water is derived from a chain of fresh water lakes in and adjacent to the City. The raw water in these lakes is of low mineral content and is classed as a soft water. The Orlando Utilities Commission has a modern purification plant. The design and operation of this plant is in accord with the most approved water works practice. The plant is supervised by an
experienced water works bacteriologist and chemist, and every effort is made to maintain the highest standards of quality. Orlando has never had an epidemic of typhoid fever or other disease traceable to the water supply. The plant is pumping close to one billion gallons of water each year (2.7 MGD) and distributing the same through a system consisting of 156 miles of water mains in sizes ranging from 2 to 20 inches upon which there are more than 8,500 customer connections, and 427 municipal fire hydrants.”
to Lake Lucerne. Up to this point, the largest
what would become a legacy of community
water main in the City’s chief artery was
service — opening its doors to the American
10 inches in diameter.
Red Cross, which set up a surgical dressing
With the addition of new infrastructure
unit on the third floor of OUC’s office building.
came the need for a centralized service
One of the first such units in the war effort, it
operations area. In 1942, OUC built the 38,900-
served as the state’s training headquarters for
square-foot Lake Highland Service Yard, which
surgical instructors. More than 250,000
accommodated the new warehouse, meter
dressings were made at OUC, representing
rooms, paint shop, truck sheds and operations
107,447 hours of volunteer effort.
offices. The Yard was constructed on the north
During the war, the economies of Orlando and other Florida cities were able to rebound Lake Highland Service Yard construction circa 1942.
The OUC water pumping process — from low-lift pumps to aerators to settling basins to the high-lift pumps that carried water to the City mains.
plant on Lake Ivanhoe down Orange Avenue
this nation’s history, OUC set the stage for
shore of Lake Highland, on a private rail siding, adjacent to the Lake Ivanhoe Plant.