Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States New York Newburgh

Newburgh, New York

The City of Newburgh was first settled by Europeans in 1709.

A meeting of inhabitants of the town of Newburgh was held on July 7, 1804 "to devise a suitable plan to supply this village with good and wholesome water for all family purposes, and to supply the engines with water in cases of fire."  The proposed system was estimated to cost no more than $3,000 and would be controlled by the village trustees.  

This scheme apparently did not progress, as The Newburgh Aqueduct Association was incorporated in 1806 by Jacob Powell, George Monell and Charles Clinton "for supplying the village of Newburgh, in the county of Orange, with wholesome water, by means of aqueducts."  Monell was president of the Village's Board of Trustees for five years between 1804 and 1810, and Powell and Clinton were also trustees at various times.  The capital stock of the association was set at $15,000, substantially higher than the 1804 estimate.

Once again nothing seems to have happened, and in 1809 a new law was passed repealing the 1806 law and  authorizing the village trustees to supply the village with water.  After only ten more years of discussion and negotiation for water rights, the system was probably delivering water by 1817, and definitely by 1819 when two houses for sale were described as being served by the Newburgh Aqueduct.

The city built a new water system in 1853, and later made a connection to New York City's nearby Catskill Aqueduct, which is primarily used for emergency and backup water service.

The City of Newburgh currently provides water service, and has a history page on their web site.

1804   A meeting of the inhabitants of the village of Newburgh is requested at the house of Edward Howell, in said village, on Saturday next, at 7 o'clock in the afternoon precisely, to devise a suitable plan to supply this village with good and wholesome water for all family purposes, and to supply the engines with water in cases of fire. In the meantime the following plan is submitted to their consideration : That the amount of the expense of the proposed measure (estimated not to exceed 3000 dollars) be divided into 600 shares, of five dollars each; that each inhabitant shall be at liberty to subscribe as many shares as he as he may think fit, not exceeding 20 in number, during the first ten days after opening the subscriptions; that none but inhabitants of the village, or persons holding real estate within the same, shall be permitted to subscribe any shares during the first ten days aforesaid; that subscription books be provided by the Trustees of the village, and the subscriptions be made payable to the Treasurer of the Corporation at such times and in such proportions as the board of trustees may from time to time direct, and emergencies may require; but to he appropriated only to the object of the institution; that the purchases of springs and sources of water, and the soil necessary for this purpose be made by the trustees in their corporate capacity, and be held by them and their successors, in trust for the exclusive benefit of the subscribers, their legal representatives, or assigns, until the income of the works shall be equal to the amount of the subscriptions, and interest after the rate of fourteen per cent, per annum; that the works shall be carried on and when completed be, and always remain, under the sole direction and control of the trustees for the time being, and that they may at all times make and ordain such prudential by-laws and regulations concerning the same, as shall be just and right; and that the whole interest, rights and emoluments of the institution shall be vested in the trustees for the time being, for the use of the inhabitants, when the subscribers shall have received the amount of their subscriptions and interest after the rate of 14 per cent, per annum. By order of the Trustees. G. Monell. President. Newburgh. June 30. 1804.  (From 1859 reference below, pages 159-160)

1806 An act for incorporating the Newburgh Aqueduct Association, March 7, 1806.

1809 An act to enable the Trustees of the Village of Newburgh to supply the Inhabitants thereof with pure and wholesome water, March 27, l809.

1817 An act to amend the act, entitled "an act to enable the trustees of the village of Newburgh to supply the inhabitants thereof with pure and wholesome water." April 5, 1817.

1819 An act to amend the act entitled, "an act vesting further powers in the trustees of the village of Newburgh." March 19, 1819. 
That the trustees of the village of Newburgh, for the time being, be empowered to raise, annually, by tax, upon property situate in the said village, in their opinion benefitted by the introduction of water by aqueducts in the village, and upon persons using the said water, a sum equal to the interest of the money expended by the trustees in so bringing water into the said village, which shall be assessed and collected in the same manner as other taxes in said village are by law assessed and collected ; and that the money so raised shall be applied towards the contingent expenses of the village.

1819 National Advocate for the County (New York City), April 13, 1819, Page 3
Two large three story dwelling Houses with the Lots on Smith-street;--these houses are in excellent order, and are replete with every convenience for genteel families;--they are supplied with pure water from the Newburgh Aqueduct...

1820 An act relative to the Village of Newburgh. April 4, 1820. Authorized up to $5,000 in water bonds.

1852 An act to provide for a supply of water in the village of Newburgh. March 30, 1852.

1852- Annual Report of the City of Newburgh Board of Water Commissioners    | Volumes 13-15 | Volumes 17-26 | Volumes 13-49 at HathiTrust |

1859 "Supply of Water" from History of the Town of Newburgh by Edward Manning Ruttenber  

1866-1871 Minutes of the Meetings of the Newburgh Water Commissioners

1881 Newburgh, from Engineering News, 8:332 (August 20, 1881)

1881 The History of Orange County, New York, by Edward Manning Ruttenber and Lewis H. Clark.
Pages 294-295:  Supply of Water

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

1883 Newburgh Centennial: The Peace Celebration of October 18, 1883 : Newburgh Daily Journal's Account of the Observances, by Newburgh daily journal, Newburgh, N.Y.
Page 58: WATER WORKS.  The source of Newburgh's water supply is Washington Lake, a body of water covering 140 acres, which is about three miles from the heart of the city, in a southwesterly direction. It is at an elevation of 276 feet above the river, the water reaching the city by gravitation. The lake is fed partly by Silver Creek, also belonging to the water works, and partly by springs. The balance of the water comes from a water-shed. The lake has a storage capacity of probably 300,000,000 gallons of available water. There is direct connection between it and the city, but the past Summer the water has reached town by way of a natural underground passage, transit though which has a very wholesome effect on its quality. This underground passage has a length of about three-quarters of a mile, and terminates in a basin called the Trout Hole" reservoir, from which there are also lines of pipe to the city, and the water as it comes from this reservoir is entirely palatable and healthful, when it would be unpleasant for use if taken direct from the lake. There has been some difficulty in adequately supplying the elevated northwest section of the city, but this will be fully remedied with the erection of a small pumping station on an upper street, which is now under way, and the city may be said to be out of trouble for a long time so far as water is concerned.

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

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

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

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

1917 Request from City of Newburgh for Supply of Water from Catskill Aqueduct, from The City Record: Official Journal, Volume 45, Part 9 New York (N.Y.) (August 1917)

1918 Purchase by City of Newburgh of Further Supply of Water from Catskill Aqueduct, from  Proceedings of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of the City of New York, Volume 2 by New York (N.Y.). Board of Estimate and Apportionment

1919 Annual Report New York (N.Y.). Dept. of Water Supply, Gas, and Electricity
Page 15:  Emergency supply taken by Newburgh and New Rochelle and for Westchester County buildings at Eastview: The City of Newburgh in the fall of 1918, obtained from the Board of Estimate and Apportionment a renewal of its agreement with the City, under which it was permitted to take water from the Catskill aqueduct to a total of 500 mg. The unusually heavy rainfall has made it unnecessary for Newburgh to draw on the city’s supply to this extent, the actual draft from January 1 to 9, 1919, being 45 mg. Newburgh has made no application to renew this contract and presumably anticipates that its own supply will be sufficient during the coming year.

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce