神戸市-KOBE-


Kobe Water Supply Service100 Years of History

最終更新日
2014年3月31日

Introduction

In 2000 (Heisei 12), the water supply service in Kobe held the centennial anniversary of its inauguration in 1900 (Meiji 33) as Japan’s seventh modern water supply service with the aim of providing a quantitatively and qualitatively stable water supply by expanding the coverage and improving waterworks facilities. The Waterworks Bureau conducted the ceremony and various projects were held to commemorate the centennial anniversary. As one of these projects, we have published “A Hundred Year History of Kobe City Waterworks” and a commemorative photo album, “100 Years of History,” to enhance citizen’s awareness of the waterworks’ 100 years of history.
Here, the history of water service projects during these 100 years is briefly introduced, referring the contents of this photo album.

1. From port opening to the start of waterworks construction (1867-1893)

When Kobe Port was opened in December 1867 (Keio 3), many people were attracted to Kobe from all over the nation and industries flourished. On the other hand, cholera and other infectious diseases were prevalent due to the use of insanitary well water, which increased the motivation to construct waterworks.
Although the enormous cost involved was a problem for the construction of the waterworks, the city assembly passed plans for the waterworks in 1893 (Meiji 26). The plans were drawn up by a British engineer, Burton, who was a hired by the Department of the Interior, and construction of a modern waterworks in Kobe commenced.
Nunobikidani and Karasuharadani were selected as water sources in the plan to cover the supply area between the Ikuta River and Minato River (almost the whole area of the former Ikuta Ward) to supply a targeted 250,000 people.

2. First construction work (1897-1905)

Construction of the waterworks started in May 1897 (Meiji 30). All the workers were Japanese, under the management of the engineer Tojiro Sano, and in 1900 (Meiji 33), the long-awaited sluice opening ceremony was held at the Okuhirano Water Purification Plant. This was the start of the waterworks in Kobe.

It was Japan’s 7th modern waterworks after the city of Yokohama, Hakodate, Nagasaki, Osaka, Tokyo, and Hiroshima. After the opening ceremony, construction of the Karasuhara Reservoir Dam was undertaken, and in October 1905 (Meiji 38) a ceremony was held to celebrate completion of all the construction work.

3. The first extension works (1911-1921)

The number of households using the water service continued to increase after the start of the water supply service, which now needed new water sources. In 1911 (Meiji 44) a survey was conducted and revealed that the Sengari River, a branch of the Muko River, had a greater volume of water of better quality for use as a water source, and required lower maintenance costs than using the Yodo River. The Sengari River was designated as a new water source and started to be used.
The design had subsequently to be modified several times, but after 10 years of major construction work, the first extension works were completed in March 1921 (Taisho 10).

The Sengari Reservoir is still supplying water mainly to the northern part of Kita Ward and is the biggest reservoir in Kobe City.

4. Conditions in the early Showa period (1926-1937))

Owing to the boom caused by World War I, many industries were concentrated in Kobe and the population increased as a result, doubling the water demand. To cope with this rapid increase in the water demand, work to raise the height of the Sengari Reservoir Dam and to construct the Egeyama Distribution Reservoir started in 1926 (Taisho 15), increasing the maximum daily water supply volume from 97,000m3 to 171,200m3.

To meet the chronic water shortage that continued thereafter in the Hanshin area, the Hanshin Municipal Water Supply Association was established in July 1936 (Showa 11) to include three cities and 13 towns/villages in the Hanshin area and extension works to use the Yodo River as a water source started. This Association was renamed to its current name of the Hanshin Water Supply Authority, and it is still operating water supplies to four cities in Kobe, Ashiya, Nishinomiya, and Amagasaki.

5. Flood damage and war disaster (1938-1944)

The rain started on July 3, 1938 (Show 13) and 191.4 mm had fallen by midnight on the 4th. 41.5 mm of heavy rain continued through the morning to around noon on the 5th, with the total rainfall volume reaching 460 mm. This severe rainfall resulted in serious floods, and it required almost 3 months to restore water supplies.
The Kitano and Okuhirano Water Purification Plants were filled with mud, driftwood and mud accumulated in the Nunobiki and Karasuhara Reservoirs, and the water conduits from Sengari to Uegahara, the water pipes from Uegahara to Kobe City, and many other distribution pipes became disconnected during the floods, causing devastating damage to the waterworks.
Relief teams, not only from local municipalities and organizations in Hyogo Prefecture, but also from outside the prefecture, including Osaka and Kyoto, came swiftly to assist with the restoration work, and worked hard and continuously to restore services.

The shadow of the war gradually lengthened. Although a third extension works project had been undertaken in December 1941 (Showa 16) to take water from the Yodo River through the Hanshin Municipal Water Supply Association, construction work was forced to be suspended in 1944 (Showa 19) as the war grew worse day by day.

6. Postwar restoration and completion of the third extension works (1945-1961)

The waterworks in Kobe were significantly damaged by air raids. Damage to the distribution pipelines, etc. resulted in an 80% leakage rate by the end of the war. Postwar restoration began with emergency measures to prevent water leaks.

The suspended third extension works were restarted in 1951 (Showa 26). The plan was to excavate 17 km of tunnel extending to Myodani-machi in Tarumi Ward and construct seven new pumping stations to cope with the rapid population increase in the Suma and Tarumi areas. All the construction work was completed by 1960 (Showa 35).

7. Further development of Kobe waterworks (1962-1994)

Fourth extension works (1960-1968), fifth extension works (1967-1978), and sixth extension works (1975-1997) were then conducted successively to cope with the expansion of the city area and the increase in the water supply population. In addition, the Hokushin, Rokkosanjyo, and industrial waterworks were also improved.

In 1985 (Showa 60), the water supply network was completed across the whole city area, achieving the long-awaited “water supplies for every citizen,” 85 years after the start of the water supply service.

8. Restoration after the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake (1995-1999)

The Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake occurred on January 17, 1995 (Heisei 7), devastating Kobe City, and inflicting great damage on the city’s waterworks. While water supplies stopped over the whole city area, the Waterworks Bureau continued their restoration work night and day to restore the water supply at the earliest possible time in cooperation with citizens and supporting teams from other cities. On April 17, three months after the Earthquake, the emergency measures were completed across the whole city.

Learning from the earthquake, we established the “Kobe City Basic Plan for Earthquake-proof Waterworks” in July 1995 (Heisei 7) aiming to build disaster/accident-proof waterworks. The infrastructure improvement project including improvements to the large capacity water pipe and emergency reservoirs, etc. is going ahead according to plan.

9. Centennial anniversary of water supply services (2000)

Overcoming various problems since its establishment in 1900, the water supply service in Kobe City celebrated its centennial in 2000 (Heisei 12) with several extension work projects implemented to improve the lives of its citizens and support urban development.

On the celebration of our centennial, we conducted various commemorative projects with the participation of the citizens of Kobe, including a commemorative ceremony, a symposium, and the reopening of the Water Science Museum to provide opportunities for the general public to find out more about water supply services and to consider at the needs of future water supply services with citizens.

10. Publication of “A Hundred Year History of Kobe City Waterworks”

We have published “A Hundred Year History of Kobe City Waterworks” (B5, approx. 1,200 pages) describing the detailed history of the water supply services up to the present day. Citizens of Kobe can find this book in the public libraries in each Ward, including the central library and lifelong study centers, etc. Please take a look this book.