Till about the middle of 19th century Chennai received water from local shallow wells and tanks.Mr.Fraser, a civil engineer forwarded a proposal to the government to tap the Kortalayar river which is situated about 160 km north west of chennai and it was accepted.
The project comprised of a masonry weir across Kortalayar at Tamarapakkam and diverting the water into Cholavaram lake and hence into the Red Hills lake through a channel.
The works were completed in 1870 at a cost of about Rs. 18.50 lakhs.In 1872 a Valve House at Red Hills and an earthen Supply channel to supply water to chennai by gravitation was constructed. At Chennai end, the channel delivered water by gravity into a masonry shaft at Kilpauk from which the cast iron mains of the City branched off and a scientifically designed water supply Distribution System was established.