Water crib

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William E. Dever Crib in Chicago, IL

Water cribs are offshore structures that collect water from close to the bottom of a lake to supply a pumping station onshore. The name crib is derived from the function of the structure—to surround and protect the intake shaft. Cities supplied with drinking water collected by water cribs include Chicago, where two of the nine originally built cribs are in active use.[1] Water cribs were also used as residences for caretakers who would live in the structure year round. Jobs included clearing debris and maintaining valves, gears, and instruments to keep the water flowing. These jobs have since been automated with periodic maintenance leaving no need for a full time caretaker.[2]

Major cities with water cribs[edit]

City Active cribsA Source
Buffalo[3] 1 Lake Erie
Chicago 2 Lake Michigan
Cleveland[4] 1B Lake Erie
Toledo[5] 1 Lake Erie


A.^ This table shows above-water cribs only.
B.^ Three of Cleveland's active cribs are submerged below Lake Erie.


  1. ^ "2014 DWM Capital Plan" (PDF). City of Chicago. City of Chicago. 2014. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 
  2. ^ Ignazio Messina (August 23, 2015). "Toledo water intake crib was once a home". www.toledoblade.com. Retrieved February 28, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Buffalo Intake Crib Lighthouse". LighthouseFriends. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 
  4. ^ "Walking on Cleveland water crib that pumps millions of gallons to city and suburbs". 10News. 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 
  5. ^ "EcoTrack 11: Where does our drinking water come from?". www.wtol.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 

External links[edit]