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History Of Reliable And Clean Water Supply In New York

1726 words - 7 pages

Throughout history the need for a reliable and clean water supply has plagued large cities from ancient Rome to the modern day metropolis such as New York City. The need for water has always been a challenge facing any city. With the increase rise of population and the migration from rural living to city dwelling; the search for water is ongoing. New York City specifically has had a grand history of water management from early engineering projects and court house battles. The history of New York water has embedded itself in the mindset of the average New Yorker. New York renowned for its cheap and amazing water quality has throughout history used its power to impose water legislation and construction projects to keep a constant hold on its water supply even disregarding water management and imposing their will on other cities. Through water management, large construction projects, and crafty politics New York has maintained its reputation for clean water.
Early settlers to New York obtained water for personal purposes from private wells. The first public well was dug in 1677. New York’s population grew too large for local supplies to sustain growth the need for a new water supply was evident. New Yorkers began the looking for new sources of water other than surrounding rivers and streams. The first major project was to bring fresh water into New York City was the Croton Reservoir and Aqueduct. New York City decided to divert water from the Croton River, located in Westchester County, and build an aqueduct to transport the water from the Croton Reservoir. The Croton Reservoir was built in 1842 today the reservoir is called the Old Croton Reservoir. To build the Croton New York City used the “labor of Irish immigrants and the capital of America’s most prosperous port to build a substantial reservoir” (3). The Croton aqueduct had a capacity of about 90 million gallons per day. At first the Croton had a two distribution centers located in Manhattan (One being the current location New York’s Public Library); yet two more were constructed in 1873 and 1878. The ever increasing population of New York City and in turn the increased consumption proved to be too much for the Croton system to keep up with a new source was needed. Before New York City could expand its resources the creation of a professional and motivated organization was need to facilitate the construction of such a large and important system. The organization created was the Board of Water Supply. The Board of Water Supply eventually became a very powerful and influential voice in the rapid expansion of New York City’s expansive water supply network.
The solution proposed by the Board of Water Supply which was formed in 1905 was to develop the Catskill region of southeastern New York State. The tremendous project would cost nearly $180 million, deliver almost triple the amount of water to New York City, employ thousands, and drastically change the landscape of both New York City and the...

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