One of the outstanding phenomena in the history of the great Argentine cities, and particularly the city of Buenos Aires, since the end of the XIXth century, has been the construction and modernization of the urban infrastructure. In Buenos Aires, contrary to what happened in other cases, a National State division was in charge of water and drainage works in this city as well as in many other cities of the interior of the country. The transformation of this division into an autonomous public enterprise, Obras Sanitarias de la Nación, coincided with the execution of a most ambitious project of new waterworks in the city of Buenos Aires, which took place during the second and third decades of the XXth century. In this study we examine the technical, financial and economic characteristics of the project, the political and institutional background of the execution of the plan, and the difficulties encountered with at the beginning of the First World War. In particular, the way the war affected the enterprise, as well as the organizational changes required by the new scale of the operation. The participation of the staff of engineers is also examined in relation to the running of the enterprise, its degree of autonomy from the political power, and the way they managed to become a techno-burocratic elite.
Keywords: National public enterprise; Water and drainage works; Metropolis; Obras Sanitarias de la Nación; Buenos Aires; Utilities