Newark Water Yesterday
In May 1666, thirty Puritan families from New England landed on the banks of the Passaic River and set about establishing the settlement we now know as “Newark.” The Passaic River and Orange Mountains provided an abundant water supply and drainage for the early settlers. A “watering place” was formed in the center of town where settlers could come to fill buckets to water their cattle. As the city grew, wooden pipes to were built to distribute water to residents. In the 1820s, the wooden pipes were replaced with cast iron pipes.
Newark’s population swelled during the late 1800s with the Industrial Revolution. Manufacturers producing cabinets, carriages, pottery, shoes, and soap were established alongside breweries, tanneries, and mills throughout the city. Newark soon became the principal industrial center in the nation. Unfortunately, this growth caused tremendous pollution in the Passaic River, forcing city engineers to find new sources of fresh water. The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission was formed for the purpose of developing adequate, reliable municipal water supply. The commission ultimately determined the Pequannock and Wanaque watersheds could provide abundant surface water to serve the needs of Newark.