Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States
New Jersey Jersey City

Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City was first settled in the 1630s and incorporated as a city in 1838. 

The Jersey City and Harsimus Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1839 "to lay and extend such aqueduct or aqueducts to such places in the island of Harsimus and Jersey City as they shall deem proper."  David Henderson, John M. Cornelison, Jonathan D. Miller, John Griffith, Aaron Ogden, Lucius F. Douglass and Dudley S. Gregory were appointed as commissioners to sell stock.  No evidence has been found that this company built anything.

Local engineer John D. Ward (1794-1873) submitted a plan on October 3, 1844 to build a pumping station at Belleville on the Passaic River that would deliver clean water to Jersey City.  The city appointed a committee in 1847 consisting of Aldermen Strong, Gilchrist, and Peter D. Vroom to report on the water supply, and they engaged local surveyors and engineers Andrew Clerk (1813-1886) and Robert Cochran Bacot (1818-1901), who appear to have been assisted by William Hubbard Talcott (1808-1868).  The engineers submitted a report on November 1, 1847 that recommended taking water from a small reservoir nearby, but it was rejected as being too small to be of value.

Cast-iron water pipes were first installed in 1842, and cement-lined wrought-iron pipes in 1845 "in Washington Street, near the corner of Wayne, Jersey City, being part of two lines laid under the track of the New-Jersey Railroad, near the turn-table, and connected so as to pass the same supply of water."  These were probably installed by the New-Jersey Railroad (see 1857 reference).

An 1851 law appointed Edwin A. Stevens, Edward Coles, Dudley S. Gregory, Abraham L. Van Buskirk, and John D. Ward as a board of water commissioners "to examine and consider all matters relative to supplying the said townships of Hoboken, Van Vorst, and Jersey City with a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome water, for the use of their inhabitants, and the amount of money necessary to effect that object."  The town of Van Vorst was annexed to Jersey City on March 8, 1851.  The commissioners engaged William S. Whitwell to design a system, and work was commenced August, 1852.  Water was first delivered in August, 1854 and a grand celebration was held of October 3, 1854.  Water service to Hoboken was commenced in October 1858 and continued until 1882 when that city began receiving water from the Hackensack Water Company.  Water service to Hudson City began in 1859, that city was annexed to Jersey City in 1870.

A revised charter in 1871 abolished the Board of Water Commissioners and established a Board of Public Works. This in turn was replaced by a Board of Street and Water Commissioners in 1889.

In 1896 a contract was entered into with the East Jersey Water Company for a temporary water supply from the system they had built for the city of Newark, but the conduit was too small.  The old pumping system was all but abandoned.

After years of advertising for water supply proposals, Jersey City contracted with Patrick H. Flynn for a permanent water supply on February 28, 1899, which was upheld by the courts.  The contract included the clause "That the water delivered should be pure and wholesome and free from pollution deleterious for drinking and domestic purposes."  Flynn and his associates organized the Jersey City Water Supply Company on April 26, 1899 to build the new system, and on May 2, 1899 Flynn assigned the contract to the new company.  Flynn and associates were unable to raise the necessary capital, and on February 14, 1902 entered into an agreement with New Jersey General Security Company that included contracting with the East Jersey Water Company to complete the contract and supply water to Jersey City.  Water from the Boonton Reservoir was first delivered to Jersey City on May 23, 1904, but the city was not satisfied with the quality of the water and brought suit against the company.  The resulting trial became a landmark in water history as it resulted in a decision on May 1, 1908 from Judge Frederick W. Stevens that ordered the company to construct sewers to remove contaminants from the Rockaway River watershed or create "other plans or devices" to produce water of the required purity.

The East Jersey Water Company had hired John Laing Leal was its sanitary adviser in 1899, and on June 19, 1908, Leal hired George W. Fuller to construct a chlorination plant to disinfect the water supply for Jersey City,  which he believed would satisfy the court's definition of "other plans or devices."  The chlorination plant was put into service on September 26, 1908, and on September 29, 1908 a second trial was held by Special Master William J. Magie to evaluate the effectiveness of the process in removing bacteria.  After 38 days of testimony by a wide range of experts, Magie issued his decision on May 9, 1910, saying that “I do therefore find and report that this device is capable of rendering the water delivered to Jersey City, pure and wholesome, for the purposes for which it is intended, and is effective in removing from the water those dangerous germs which were deemed by the decree to possibly exist therein at certain times." The city appealed the ruling, but it was upheld, and chlorination became an accepted method of water purification that was rapidly adopted in other systems.

After the trial, the water works was conveyed to that municipality on October 10th, 1911, and at which time it paid the company the sum of $6,992,000.

The Jersey City Sewerage Authority was formed in 1949  and in 1998 took over responsibility for the Jersey City Water System and was renamed the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority.

Water is currently supplied by the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority, which contracts with Suez Water North Jersey to operate the system.


References
1838 An act to incorporate Jersey City. February 22, 1838.
Sec. 18. It shall be lawful for the common council of the said city to raise by tax, from year to year, such sum or sums of money as they may deem expedient for defraying the expenses of lighting the streets of the city, supporting a night watch therein, supplying the said city with water for the extinguishment of fire and for other purposes.

1839 An act to incorporate the Jersey City and Harsimus Aqueduct Company.  March 1, 1839.

1847 Newark Daily Advertiser, July 3, 1847, Page 2.
Jersey City Water Works.-- Messrs. Strong, Gilchrist, and Vroom, who were appointed a committee by the Common Council to ascertain where and how a supply of water for Jersey City could be obtained, where engaged on Saturday, we are informed, on this duty.  They were accompanied by the engineers, Messrs. Talcot, Clerk, and Bacot, as well as by some other gentlemen.  They explored the country, around for the distance of about thirty miles, visiting the Boiling Spring, the Passaic, the Hackensack, and Saddle River.  Their report is not made public, but we understand it will be favorable, and that there is a prospect of supply our City with good wholesome water, and plenty of it.-- Telegraph.

1847 Report on water supply to Jersey City, November 1, 1847.  No copy of this report has been found.

1847 Newark Daily Advertiser, November 18, 1847, Page 2.
The authorities of Jersey City are seeking a supply of pure water for the place.  A committee report that the most available supply is to be obtained from the cut on Bergen Hill, near the intersection of the New Jersey and Paterson railroad.  One hundred thousand gallons a day can be obtained from this source, and the quantity, they say, can be increased to more than double. -- This water they propose to collect in a receiving reservoir, and to elevate it thence by steam power into a distributing reservoir, from which it can be conveyed to Jersey City.  The whole expense is estimated at $50,000 including fixtures, pipe, hydrants, &c.

1851 An act for the appointment of commissioners in relation to supplying the townships of Hoboken, Van Worst, and the city of Jersey City with pure and wholesome water.  March 18, 1851.

1851 First Report of the Board of Water Commissioners to Legislature, December 8, 1851.

1852 An act to authorize the construction of works for supplying Jersey City and places adjacent with pure and wholesome water.  March 25, 1852.

1853 An act to amend an act approved the twenty-fifth day of March, eighteen hundred and fifty-two, entitled "An act to authorize the construction of works for supplying Jersey City and places adjacent with pure and wholesome water."  January 18, 1853.

1853 Report made to the Water Commissioners of Jersey City, April 11th, 1853, upon a Plan of City Sewerage, by William S. Whitwell, Civil Engineer.

1854 A further supplement to "An act to authorize the construction of works for the supplying of Jersey City and places adjacent, with pure and wholesome water," approved March twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and fifty-two.  March 16, 1854.

1854 Jersey City Daily Telegraph, June 28, 1854, Page 2.
The steam pump of the water works commenced working on Wednesday.

1854 Jersey City Daily Telegraph, August 16, 1854, Page 2.
The Water Works.- Yesterday and Water Commissioners and others were present at Belleville, to witness the starting of the engine of th Jersey City Water Works, which was successfully done.  If no accident occurs, the city will be supplied during the present week.

1854 Jersey City Daily Telegraph, August 21, 1854, Page 2.
The Passaic Water.- The Commissioners of the Jersey City Water Works caused the water to be let into the distributing reservoir, on Bergen Hill, on Saturday afternoon, at o'clock. It was allowed to run just long enough to test the operation of that portion of the works, and to gratify the considerable number of people who visited the spot to witness the event.  The street in the vicinity of the Reservoir was thronged with various vehicles from light wagons to which fast horses were attached to heavy omnibuses, with "four ln hand." A large proportion of those present. were ladies. A fine view was had from the embankment of the large basin which is to contain the supply for the use of the city. On Saturday evening the firemen were again enjoying themselves by attaching hose to hydrants and throwing water on the high buildings, dirty streets and thirsty crowd.  Yesterday the water was allowed to discharge in several parts of the city.  A jet of large size and, and over fifty feet in height, ascended from the terminus of the pipe at the foot of Essex-st during the day, and caused great admiration. A few leakages have been discovered, but they will not interfere with the supplying of consumers.

1854 "Passaic Water in Jersey City," Centinel of Freedom, August 22, 1854, Page 2.

1854 "Celebration," Jersey City Daily Telegraph, October 4, 1854, Page 2.

1854 The New York Daily Times, October 5, 1854, Page 2.
Water Celebration.  Introduction of Passaic Water into Jersey City.

1855 A further supplement to the "Act to authorize the construction of works for supplying Jersey City and places adjacent with pure and wholesome water," approved twenty-fifth of March, eighteen hundred and fifty-two.  March 29, 1855.

1856 A further supplement to the act entitled "An act to authorize the construction of works for the supplying of Jersey City and places adjacent with pure and wholesome water."  March 18, 1856.

1856 "A Historical and Descriptive Account of the Jersey City Water Works," [by John D. Ward,] September 30, 1856, Transactions of the American Institute of the City of New York for the year 1855. 14:623-634. (1856)  Ward was one of the first water commissioners for Jersey City.

1857 The Patent Water & Gas Pipe Company, of Jersey City N.J. 
Page 14:  I have examined, at your request, a specimen of wrought iron and cement pipe of three inches bore, and one of cast iron pipe, of three inches bore; the former laid in 1845, and the latter in 1842, in Washington Street, near the corner of Wayne, Jersey City, being part of two lines laid under the track of the New-Jersey Railroad, near the turn-table, and connected so as to pass the same supply of water.

1859 A further supplement to "An act to authorize the construction of works for the supplying of Jersey City and the places adjacent with pure and wholesome water," approved March twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and fifty-two.  March 16, 1859.

1859 "The Belleville Water Works," Centinel of Freedom, July 5, 1859, Page 3.  Erection of 160-foot standpipe.

1860 A further supplement to the act approved March twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and fifty-two, entitled "An act for the supplying Jersey City and the places adjacent with pure and wholesome water."  March 21, 1860.

1860 Acts of the Legislature in Reference to Water Supply and Sewerage and Reports of Water Commissioners...: With Accompanying Documents. 1851-60, by New Jersey, Jersey City (N.J.). Board of Water Commissioners

1861 A further supplement to the act entitled "An act to authorize the construction of works for supplying Jersey City and places adjacent, with pure and wholesome water."  February 27, 1861.

1861 Newark Daily Advertiser, December 9, 1861, Page 2.
The Passaic Water.- It is now seen years since the introduction of the Passaic water into Jersey City, and during that time almost eery house, the various workshops and steamboat landings have been supplied with this great luxury.  Within the past three years the cities of Hoboken and Hudson City have been supplied, and branch pipes have been laid down in various streets crossing Newark avenue, J. City.  As the supply of water is not very large at the present time, the Water Commissioners have in view of the necessity of meeting the future wants of the city, issued proposals for furnishg and laying down twenty-five hundred feet of cast iron water-pipe, equal in capacity to a 35-inch main, similar to that now in use by the company.

1861 Eleventh and Twelfth Report of the Board of Water Commissioners to the Mayor and Common Council of Jersey City, with Accompanying Documents

1862 A further supplement to "An act to authorize the construction of works for the purpose of supplying Jersey City and places adjacent with pure and wholesome water," approved March twenty-fifth, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two.  March 17, 1862.

1863 A further supplement to an act entitled "An act to authorize the construction of works for the supplying of Jersey City and the places adjacent with pure and wholesome water," approved March the twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and fifty-two.  March 6, 1863.

1864 A Supplement to an act entitled "An act to authorize the construction of works for the supplying of Jersey City and places adjacent, with pure and wholesome Water," approved March twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and fifty-two.  March 14, 1864.

1864 Acts of the Legislature in Reference to Water Supply and Sewerage and Reports of Water Commissioners...: With Accompanying Documents, by New Jersey, Jersey City (N.J.). Board of Water Commissioners

1871 A Further Supplement to "An Act to incorporate a company to form an artificial navigation between the Passaic and Delaware Rivers," passed December thirty-first, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-four.  March 14, 1871
3. A»d be it enacted, That it shall be lawful for the said company, or its lessee or lessees, to use the surplus water of the canal of said company, or any of its feeders, not needed for the purposes of navigation, in furnishing and supplying the inhabitants of any city, town or village along the line of said canal, or in the vicinity thereof, with a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome water for manufacturing or domestic and other uses.

1872 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Board of Public Works of Jersey City, N. J. for year 1871.

1873 Reports to the Board of Public Works, of Jersey City, on Analyses of the Water of the Passaic River, by Henry Wurtz and Albert Ripley Leeds, March 1873

1873 An Act to provide Newark and Jersey City, and other places, with an ample supply of Pure and Wholesome Water for domestic and other purposes.  April 2, 1873.

1873 "Second Chemical and Sanitary Report upon the Water Supply of the Cities of Newark and Jersey City," by Professor Henry Wurtz. (Corrected and prepared for this journal by the author.) October 1, 1873.  Journal of the Franklin Institute, 97(5):328-337 (May, 1874) | Part 2 -  pages 431-436 )

1873 Charter of Jersey City, and Supplement

1874 "Jersey City Water Works," from History of the County of Hudson, New York, from its earliest settlement to the present time, by Charles H. Winfield.

1875 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Board of Public Works of Jersey City, N. J. for year 1874.

1876 "Water Supply," Annual Report for the State Geologist of New Jersey for the Year 1876.
Page 14: The present supply for Newark and Jersey City is drawn from the Passaic river near Belleville. This stream receives the sewage from Paterson, a city of near forty thousand inhabitants. The recent clearing of the channel above Newark, by the United States Government, has given more freedom to the tidal movement of the water, so that salt water from the bay and sewage from Newark may flow further up the stream than they formerly did. On account of these circumstances, there has been much doubt expressed as to whether this water was suitable and safe to be used for household purposes, and hence the inquiry.

1877 Water Shed of the Passaic River (Map by NJ state geologist) Shows pumping stations for Newark and Jersey City water works.

1881 Jersey City, Engineering News, 8:226 (June 4, 1881)

1882 Jersey City, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

1883 "Report on Water Supply from Passaic River," by Andrew Clerk, Engineer, June 23, 1883, Manual of the Board of Street and Water Commissioners of Jersey City for the Official Year 1883-1884

1884 New York Times, May 7, 1884, Page 8.
The Jersey City Water Supply. Mr. Andrew Clerk, of Jersey City, who has interested himself in the subject of a purer and better supply of water for Jersey City than that which she now receives, has submitted a proposition to the Jersey City Board of Works. He proposes to extend a wrought-iron pipe, taking the water from some three miles above Jersey City intake, at a point where Prof. A. R. Leeds says the water is the purest, this pipe to be discharged into a well about 25 feet square and 15 to 16 feet deep below high water, to be watertight against the river water, from which well the different pumps will draw their water for the supply of Jersey City.  Mr. Clerk estimates that the cost of this improvement will be about $140,000.

1886 Annual Report of the State Geologist of New Jersey for the year 1886.
Page 210: The Passaic River, at Belleville, from which the supplies for Newark and Jersey City are now pumped, is disgustingly impure, and is constantly liable to dangerous contamination. With sources of supply unquestioned in purity, and more abundant than those used for the supply of Boston, New York, or Philadelphia, and at a manageable expense, there is no justifiable excuse for longer delay in the introduction of this element so essential for health, comfort, and cleanliness.

1887 "The Monstrous Pollution of the Water Supply of Jersey City and Newark," by Dr. Albert R. Leeds, Journal of the American Chemical Society 9:81-97 (1887) | Map showing sources of pollution of the present water supply of Jersey City and Newark.  Also shows location of Newark and Jersey City pumping stations at Belleville.

1888 "Jersey City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1888 Outline of Plans (with Illustrations) for Furnishing an Abundant Supply of Water to the City of New York: From a Source Independent of the Croton Watershed Delivered Into the Lower Part of the City Under Pressure Sufficient for Domestic, Sanitary, Commercial and Manufacturing Purposes, and for the Extinguishment of Fires, with Legal and Engineering and Other Papers, by John R. Bartlett  Passaic Water Company, Acquackanonk Water Company, West Milford Water Storage Company, Montclair Water Company. 

1888 Map of the Passaic and Croton water-sheds, water courses, storage reservoirs, and sources of water supply for the cities towns and villages, within radius of 50 miles from the city of New York.  This map was included in the 1888 Bartlett Report.

1888 Manual of the Board of Public Works of Jersey City for the Official Year 1887-1888

1888 An act to authorize canal companies in certain cases to surrender their franchise of navigation and be released from public obligation in respect thereto.  March 18, 1888.

1889 Manual of the Board of Public Works of Jersey City for the Official Year 1888-1889

1889 An act concerning the government of cities of this state.  April 6, 1889.
7.  It shall be lawful for the mayor of any city of this state to appoint three suitable persons, to be known as street and water commissioners.

1890 "Water for Jersey Towns," New York Times, November 9, 1890, Page 17.

1890 "Jersey City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 An Act concerning cities of the first class in this state, and constituting municipal boards of street and water commissioners therein, and defining the powers and duties of such municipal boards, and relating to the municipal affairs and departments of such cities, placed under the control and management of such boards, and providing for the maintenance of the same.  March 28, 1891.  Required mayors of cities of the first class to appoint five-member board of street and water commissioners.

1891 "Jersey City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1893 Sewage Disposal in the United States, by George W. Rafter and Moses Nelson Baker

1894 New York Times, July 30, 1894, Page 9.
 Jersey City’s Foul Water; Sewage-Filled Passaic the Source of Its Supply. “Plenty of Good Drinking Water to be Had and Many Syndicates Ready to Furnish It — None, However, Has Influence Enough to Get a Contract — Tremendous Debt a Serious Obstacle, but Public Health Demands a Change. The people of this city are thoroughly satisfied that they have the worst drinking water to be found anywhere in the United States. This is no sudden conclusion of theirs. It is the result of a steady growth, born of an experience extending over eight or ten years.
When the Passaic River was first tapped as a source of supply, the water was pure. Dr. Chilton of New York and Prof. Horsford of Yale University, who made the analysis, pronounced it better than the water supplied to Philadelphia, New York, or Albany. But that was forty years ago, and the Passaic of 1854 was very different from the river of today.
Then the towns on its banks were merely hamlets. Paterson was only a village and Passaic and Belleville were mere dots on the map. None of them had any sewers to empty into the river, there were no factories along the banks to pollute the waters, and the fluid brought to Jersey City was limpid, clear and sparkling.
Paterson and Passaic are cities now, with extensive sewerage systems, and all the sewage of these two cities, with a population, probably, of 60,000, empties directly into the river.  In addition, there are many factories, mills, and dye works along the banks of the river, and all the refuse from these goes into the river along with the sewage, to further pollute the water.

1895-1905 Annual Reports of the Board of Street and Water Commissioners for Jersey City, New Jersey  Note: The Google books web page says Newark but these are actually from Jersey City.

1895 "Water Supply of Northeastern New Jersey and the Jersey City Bids," Engineering News, 33:273-275 (April 25, 1895)

1895 "Steam Shovels for Trench Excavation and Backfilling," Engineering News 34:158-159 (September 5, 1895)  These machines were used to install the 42-inch temporary water line serving Jersey City..

1895 Contract between Jersey City and East Jersey Water Company, October 12, 1895.

1895 "East Jersey Water Company Contract," Jersey Journal, October 16, 1895, Page 7.

1895 "The 42-in. Steel Conduit for the Jersey City Temporary Water Supply," Engineering News 34:370 (December 5, 1895)

1895 History of Jersey City, N.J.: A Record of Its Early Settlement and Corporate Progress : Sketches of the Towns and Cities that Were Absorbed in the Growth of the Present Municipality : Its Business, Finance, Manufactures and Form of Government, with Some Notice of the Men who Built the City, by Alexander McLean
Page 48: On October 4, 1844, John D. Ward, an engineer with a national reputation, sent a communication to the council urging the city to procure a water supply. The matter was referred to a committee, and a month later the committee reported that the legislature had chartered a water company, but the people were opposed to having a supply m the hands of a private corporation, and nothing was done. In July, 1845, a committee was appointed to consider a plan for getting water, but the water committee was discharged in March, 1846, without having accomplished any practical result. In May following another committee was appointed, and Hoboken was invited to join, but this, too, failed and the question remained in abeyance for a time.
Pages 52-53: One of the most interesting questions of the time was how to supply the growing township with water. When streets were extended through the farm land a number of wells were left on the roadways. These were ceded to the town on condition that their efficiency should be maintained. One of the last that was ceded was a pump at the corner of Grove and Montgomery streets. When the town accepted it Samuel Cookson was appointed "Superintendent of the Pump." This was an unsalaried position, and the record of his appointment throws light on the nature of the public water supply. Some property-owner near each pump was appointed guardian because self-interest would cause him to guard the purity of the water. When a new pump was required it was petitioned for, and all the property within a radius of convenience was assessed for it. The radius was ascertained by drawing a circle around it extending half way to the next pump. The pump at South Fifth and Grove streets, for example, was built after a petition had been signed and approved. John P. Hill took the contract on May 15, 1845. The specifications provided that he should build a four-inch brick wall, and if he did not find water at fifteen feet he was to get six dollars a foot for each additional foot until water was reached. The residents could have an eight-inch wall built if they wished, but it was not to add more than twenty-five dollars to the cost. This well was completed in one month and cost $117 and the property one block each way was assessed.
Pages 56-58: "Water Supply"
Page 80: Jersey City, in 1870, had a general debt of $2,551,945.40, and an improvement debt of $217,412.38. Its property and assets exceeded its debt by $836,042.43. Included in the debt was the water-works, which was then supplying Hudson Citv and Hoboken, and had a contract with Bergen. The water-works was scheduled at $1,518,000, but was worth as an asset at least $2,500,000, as will be seen later.
Pages 81-82: [1871 Charter] It abolished the board of water commissioners.  The board of public works took charge of the street and sewer improvement and construction and the water-works.
The new charter was well on its way when the water commissioners made the contract for the erection of the reservoir. Governor Parker signed the act to reorganize the city government on March 31st. The contract was dated March 3d. At that time it was well known that the water commissioners would go out of office in a few days. The contract was made with John Mitchell and David B. Bridgeford as a firm. Thomas Gannon and Hugh W. McKay were the sureties. A short time afterwards the contract was assigned to J. B. Cleveland.  The exact amount that was in the job, as originally designed, will never be known. The prices at which the contract was awarded will afford an idea of the bonanza that was intended. The figures were : Embankment, 35 cents a yard ; earth excavation, 7 cents a yard : rock excavation, $2 a yard; slope wall, $3.10 a yard; cut stone masonry, $40 a yard; rubble masonry, $12 a yard, and brick masonry, $30 a yard. Mitchell & Bridgeford drew $199,500 on the contract, and Cleveland got $334,000 before the financial strain and other causes put a stop to the work. The unfinished wall still stands as a monument of bad management. Cleveland demanded something like half a million for what he would have made if the work had been finished according to contract. He compromised several years later on about $30,000.  This contract did not attract the attention it deserved at the time it was awarded. It was like many of the other contracts which later created what became known as the old debt. It was awarded as a piece of sharp politics, as many other contracts were during these transition periods of the consolidation and reorganization of the city government.  This contract is worthy of special notice because of the events that grew out of it, and because it was typical of the eleventh-hour jobs of the retiring officials.
Page 102: The Public Works Department. The first public works department was the board of water commissioners appointed March 18, 1851. Their duty was to provide water-works to supply Jersey City and the townships of Van Vorst and Hoboken. They selected Wm. S. Whitwell as engineer, and his plans were approved December 9, 1851. On March 25, 1852, the legislature granted authority to build the works. The water was first turned into the mains on June 30, 1854, and on August 15th following it was delivered to the city. At the time the water was turned on the cost had been $652,995.73, but the construction account was not closed until July 1, 1857. Connected with the water-works a general plan of sewerage became necessary, and that work devolved upon the water board. The daily consumption of water increased rapidly as the service was extended.  In 1856 the daily consumption was 581,000 gallons and the annual rate 516,472,876 gallons. In 1857 the daily average was 1,000,000 gallons and the annual total was 631,498,602 gallons.
Page 351:  Robert Cochran Bacot. In 1887 he furnished estimates on the basis of the Bartlett proposition to supply Jersey City with water from the Passaic water-shed, and advocated an acceptance by the city of the proposition. His estimates and predictions, although contested at that time, have been vindicated by time. The water revenue of the city has exceeded his figures.  The cost of similar works to supply Newark from the same source have verified his estimates, and the present condition of the city's water demonstrates the wisdom of the advice he gave at that time.

1896 Van Riepen, et al. v. Mayor, etc., of Jersey City, et al., 33 A. 740, January 23, 1896, New Jersey Supreme Court

1896 "Report on the Yield of the Pequannock Watershed, New Jersey," Engineering News 35:123 (February 20, 1896)

1896 "Water Purification in New Jersey," by Moses Nelson Baker, C. E. of Upper Montclair, N. J. (Associate Editor, "Engineering News," New York), Twentieth Annual Report of the Department of Health of the State of New Jersey. 20:229-266 (1896)

1897 "Back to Passaic Water," Water and Gas Review 7(9):10 (March 1897)

1897 "Jersey City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1897 Manual of the Board of Street and Water Commissioners of Jersey City for the Official Year of 1896-97

1897 115 Experiments on the Carrying Capacity of Large Riveted Metal Conduits, by Clemens Herschel.

1898 "Jersey City's Water Supply," Municipal Journal and Public Works 4 :99-101 (March, 1898)

1898 The Watertown Herald. December 10, 1898, Page 7
Monster Contract Awarded.  Jersey City, Dec. 9.—The Jersey City street and water board has decided to award the contract for a new permanent water supply to Patrick H. Flynn, a Brooklyn contractor, for $7,595,000. The supply is to be taken from the Rockaway river and Boonton, N. J. Flynn, in order to be able to furnish the required amount of water, has negotiated with Garret A. Hobart's East Jersey Water company for the purchase of valuable water rights in the Morris canal for $1,500,000. These water rights, coupled with Flynn's watersheds, will insure a daily supply of over 70,000,000 gallons.

1899 "The Water Contract," The Evening Journal, January 5, 1899, Pages 1 & 2.  This is the draft contract, the final version was signed on February 28, 1899.

1899 "The Jersey City Water Contract," Engineering News, 41:91 (February 9, 1899)

1899 Contract between Jersey City and William H. Flynn, February 28, 1899.  No copy of this final contract version has been found.

1899 Engineering News, 41:293 (May 11, 1899)
The Jersey City Water Supply Co. has been incorporated to carry out the contract for a new supply for Jersey City recently awarded to Mr. Patrick H. Flynn, of 189 Montague St., Brooklyn. The company has an authorized capital stock of $1,000,000, and the incorporators are Michael J. Kennedy, Fred. C. Cocheu, Nicholas K. Connolly, John McCarty and Louis H. Meht, of Brooklyn; Henry Belden, 31 Broadway, New York city; and Wm. D. Edwards, of Jersey City. It is said that most or all the Brooklyn men named are business associates of Mr. Flynn. Both Mr. Belden and Mr. Edwards have been connected with water supply matters in Jersey City for many years, especially with the Jersey City Water Co. The new company has organized by electing Mr. Meht as President, Mr. Kennedy, Secretary, and Mr. Belden, Treasurer.

1899 State (Flemming et al., Prosecutors) v. Mayor, etc. of Jersey City et al., 42 A. 845, March 14, 1899, Supreme Court of New Jersey
1. The fact that provisions were inserted in a contract for a municipal water supply, not authorized by the resolution of the water commissioners under which the contract was entered into, does not justify a certiorari to review the contract, where they were all for the benefit of the city, and imposed additional burdens on the contractors.
2. A requirement, in specifications for water supply, for a $100,000 deposit by each bidder, as a guaranty to good faith, is not unreasonable: the contract involving the expenditure of $7,999,000.
3. The fact that a bidder, who was unable to furnish the required deposit when bids for a public work were asked for, is afterwards able to comply therewith, is not ground for rescinding the contract and reopening the bids.
Application by the state, on the prosecution of Dudley D. Flemming and others, for a writ of certiorari against the mayor aud aldermen of Jersey City and Patrick H. Flynn. Writ denied.

1904 Rehill et ux. v. Mayor, etc., of Jersey City. 58 A. 175, June 13, 1904, Supreme Court of New Jersey
1. A valid contract not existing between Jersey City and the town of Harrison for the supply of that town with water by Jersey City, the resolution of July 28, 1903, authorizing the construction of a pipe from the junction of Kearney avenue and Belleville Turnpike to Kingsland for that purpose, was without authority and void.

1905 Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City v. The Town of Harrison, et al., 72 N J L 185. November 20, 1905.

1906-1912 Annual Reports of the Board of Street and Water Commissioners for Jersey City, New Jersey  Note: The Google books web page says Newark but these are actually from Jersey City.

1908 The Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City v. Patrick H. Flynn et al. 74 N.J. Eq 104, May 2, 1908. In Chancery of New Jersey.

1908 On Bill, &c. Final Decree, June 4, 1908. Between the Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City and The Jersey City Water Supply Company, In Chancery of New Jersey.
Page 6:  In lieu of and as a substitute for all or any of the sewers and sewage disposal works above referred to in this paragraph, the defendant Company may, within ninety  days from the date hereof, present other plans or devices for maintaining the purity of the water delivered by the Company to the City throughout the year, under present conditions, and estimates of the cost of the works now necessary therefor; and both parties may present evidence touching the efficiency of such plans or devices to produce the necessary results, and the cost thereof, and the defendant company may, pending the taking of testimony, with the leave of the court, upon notice, present amendments and modifications of such plans and devices.

1909 Proceedings of the Twenty-Ninth Annual Convention of the American Water Works Association | Also here |
The Sterlization of the Jersey City Water Supply Company at Boonton, N. J., by Dr. J. L. Leal
Description of the Process and Plant of the Jersey City Water Supply Company for the Sterilization of the Water of the Boonton Reservoir, by George W. Fuller
Description of Methods of Operations of the Sterilization Plant of the Jersey City Water Supply Company at Boonton, N. J., by George A. Johnson
Discussion on papers by Messrs, Leal, Fuller and Johnson

1909 The Public Water Supplies of Hudson County, N. J. particularly with reference to the Jersey City Supply, by Edlow Wingate Harrison, read November 18, 1909, The Historical Society of Hudson County, Number 8.

1909 Between the Mayor and aldermen of Jersey City, complainant, and the Jersey City water supply company.  Twelve volumes of testimony were published for the combined cases and the last four are available on line:
Volume 9: Page 4907-5422
Volume 10: Pages 5423 -5986
Volume 11: Pages 5987-6534
Volume 12: Pages 6537-6987

1910 The Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City v. Jersey City Water Supply Co., 76 N. J. Eq 607, February 28, 1910, Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey.  Fence around the reservoir.

1910 Report of Hon. William J. Magie, Special Master on Cost of Sewers, Etc., and on Efficiency of Sterilization Plant at Boonton. May 9, 1910. Between the Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City and The Jersey City Water Supply Company, In Chancery of New Jersey.  Decision in favor of chlorination.

1910 "Hyperchlorite Treatment of Public Water Supplies; Its Adapability and Limitations," A paper by George A. Johnson, New York, presented before the Milwaukee Convention of the American Public Health Association. The Engineering Record 62(12):321-323 (September 17, 1910)

1911 The Commercial and Financial Chronicle 92(2):67 (May 1911)
JERSEY CITY. H. O. Wittpenn, Mayor; F.Gormley, Compt.
On Feb. 13 1900 the citizens authorized the purchase of a water plant for the sum of $7,595,000. A contract, was signed in 1899 with Patrick H. Flynn (subsequently assigned to the East Jersey Water Co., and by them to the Jersey City Water Supply Co.) to build the water works, the same to be completed by Dec. 25 1903. The time was further extended to March 1 1904, but it was not until Nov. 16, 1904 that the contractors wrote the city that the plant had been completed. The city has as yet paid nothing on this plant, the matter being in litigation; on May 2, 1908 Vice-Chancellor Stevens at Newark rendered a decision in the case, fixing the amount due by the city. This decision was affirmed except in one unimportant detail, by the Court of Errors and Appeals on March 1, 1910.  On Nov. 17, 1910 the Vice-Chancellor filed the final decree of the court of Chancery fixing the terms of the purchase.

1911 Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City v. Jersey City Water Supply Co.,79 N.J. Eq 212, July 11, 1911, Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey,

1911 Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City v. Jersey City Water Supply Co.,79 N.J. Eq 215, July 11, 1911, Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey,

1914 "Practical Talk on Water Purification," The Water Chronicle: Devoted to All Water Utilization, 4:(3): 125-132 (September, 1914) Good description of the Jersey City chlorination plant.

1915 The Auger & Simon Silk Dyeing Company v. The East Jersey Water Company and the Jersey City Water Supply Company, 88 N J L 273, November 15, 1915 Also more on page 400

1919 "City Loses Water Purification Lawsuit," Municipal Journal and Public Works 46(22):391 (May 31, 1919)

1922 The Mayor and Aldermen of Jersey City v. Jersey City Water Supply Company et al. 93 N.J. Eq 620, June 19, 1922.

1924 "Jersey City Water Supply," from History of the Municipalities of Hudson County, New Jersey, 1630-1923, Volume 1, Editor-in-chief Daniel Van Winkle.

1926 Jersey City  v. Jersey City Water Supply Company, 99 N.J. Eq. 36 (N.J. 1926)

1936 "History of the Development of the Use of Water in Northeastern New Jersey,"  Charles H. Capen, Jr., Engineer, North Jersey District Water Supply Commission,  Newark, N. J., Journal of the American Water Works Association, 28(8):973-982 (August, 1936)

1940 Cocheu v. New Jersey General Security Co., 128 N.J. Eq. 64, 15 A.2d 124, December 6, 1940, New Jersey Court of Chancery. | Also here |

1954  "Pollution Control on the Jersey City Watershed," Robert J. Budrick, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 46(4):349-353 (April, 1954)

1962 "Jersey City," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker

2001 Cultural Resources Survey of the Jersey City Water Works Pipeline, 1851-1873.  May 2001, includes good historical information and reprints of A Historical and Descriptive Account of the Jersey City Water Works by John D. Ward, 1856, and Jersey City Water Rates and Regulations, 1856.

2005 The Morris Canal

2005 The Urban Origins of Suburban Autonomy, Richardson Dilworth.  This book has an excellent account of the development of water systems in northern New Jersey.

2013 The Chlorine Revolution: Water Disinfection and the Fight to Save Lives, by Michael J. McGuire | Also here (subscription required) | Everything you need to know about chlorination in Jersey City.

Also see this page on Disinfection.






© 2015 Morris A. Pierce