Loss of water in the locks was a problem from early on. As boats passed through at Chesapeake City, the equivalent of a full lock of water was lost to the lower-lying portion of the canal. This loss due to locking vessels through the canal, compounded by leakage through the canal banks and normal evaporation, made it necessary to devise a means of lifting water into the project's upper part. In 1852 a steam engine and large waterwheel were installed at the pumphouse in Chesapeake City. Measuring 39 feet in diameter and 10 feet wide, the iron and wood waterwheel had 12 troughs which filled with water as it turned; the water then spilled over the hub into the raceway and into the uppermost canal level.