Before the S&WB built the city's water purification system, New Orleanians gathered their water in large cypress cisterns on their rooftops, or they took water from the Mississippi River and allowed it to settle in big earthenware jars. A few purchased river water (unpurified, of course) from a private company that had connected mains to a small portion of the city's homes and businesses. These primitive and unsanitary methods of providing water for drinking and cleaning naturally added to New Orleans' periodic epidemics of typhoid, yellow fever, and cholera.

Soon after its creation, the S&WB built a temporary water purification plant at Audubon Park to determine the best method of purifying water taken from the Mississippi River. Once the method was perfected, the plant was dismantled, a tract of land was acquired "at the back of Carrollton" and by 1904, bids were put out for the construction on the Water Purification Station.

These building plans show the rear elevation of the Main Water Purification Station, facing Eagle Street, and the north side elevation, facing Panola Street--part of the complex of buildings in the S&WB's waterworks on Claiborne Avenue. The image was scanned from microfilm of blueprints and maps from the S&WB's Mechanical Engineering Department. (The plans for the Water Purification Station were also reproduced in the Sewerage and Water Board's Fourteenth Semi-Annual Report for December 31, 1906.) The building was under construction in 1906 and began operations in 1909.