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Not Fit For Drinking
June 14, 1888
Newark Evening News
Not Fit For Drinking
New Water Supply Agitation
The Rev. Horace F. Barnes Vigorously Denounces the Impurity of the Passaic--
Suggestions Made by the Signers of the Petitions
Suggestions Made by the Signers of the Petitions
When the meeting of the Board of Trade was called to order last night by President Bassett a long petition for a supply of pure water lay on the reporters' table. Is (sic) was headed as follows: "To the Board of Trade of Newark.
"Gentlemen--The undersigned are in favor of a new water supply of pure water for Newark, and hope that some feasible plan for obtaining it may be speedily ascertained and made available at the earliest possible moment as any honest expenditure of money that may be necessary."
William A. Righter, one of the signers, also favored a serviceable filtration of the present system. Harrison Van Duyne was in favor of obtaining legislative authority and "when the work is commenced to have the tax levy increased .50, making the rate about $2.50, and using the $500,000 thus raised to pay for the work as it progresses. A city that can pay each ear $500,000, or thereabouts, in interest on its debts can much better afford to raise its money and pay as it goes, and so be clear of debt."
The list of names attached to the petition occupied four or five yards of paper and a number offered suggestions.
Rev. H. F. Barnes, of the Fairmount Baptist Church, who was introduced by the president, spoke for over an hour on the water supply.
Rev H. F. Barnes Address
"No one," he said, "will dispute the propriety of a Baptist minister's discussing the water supply. Nothing can be done until the public sees the necessity of pure water and rises up and demands it. The lower portion of the Passaic receives the pollution of 250,000 people and 375 tons of excretia per day. The pollution from factories and other sources is beyond calculation. I went up to Paterson to see how they befouled the supply. If people knew to what extent this was done, there would be a public indignation meeting within forty-eight hours. Beside those sources of pollution there is a large cemetery in Paterson and one in Newark. Who that reveres his ancestors wants them carried off to drink them down a daily beverage? The very skimmings of our river are enough to run a bone phosphate factory. Truly this is not water. It is a poisonous drug, and reminds me of the words of the old witches in 'Macbeth.'"
The speaker referred to various reports made to the Board of Pollution and other bodies by chemists and others to show the impurity of the water used. Reports of Professor Leeds showed that there were 88,000 microbes to every quarter of a teaspoonful of Passaic water. The speaker referred to the danger of an epidemic that might arise if typhoid fever should break out in Paterson.
An Appalling Death Rate
"When there are fifteen parts of albuminoid ammonia per million of water," the speaker continued, "it is condemned, yet some of the Passaic water has as high as thirty parts per million. High authorities do not relieve us of our fears. Dr. Hunt places the death rate in this Sate outside of Newark and Jersey City have but one-fifth of the population, yet they have one-third of the deaths from typhoid fever and diarrheal complaints. The death rate in Jersey City is twenty-four per 1,000, and in Newark twenty-three per 1,000. In Hoboken, where Passaic water was given up, a marked decrease in the death rate has been noticed. No physicians would say that the water has nothing to do with sickness. It needlessly sacrifices many lives yearly. Let the lower Passaic be abandoned as a source of water supply and given up to its natural uses. Where then shall we look for a supply of 70,000,000 gallons of pure water per day!
"The map of New jersey will show us where there is plenty of pure water. Our great watershed is three times as large as that of New York, but it remains practically unused. Out Jersey hills could furnish water for new York and a number of other large cities, but there would be enough left to put out a fire in the metropolis one night, celebrate a Prohibition victory the next, and give Tammany Hall the luxury of a glorious bath on the third night.
Bartlett's Syndicate's Power
The speaker closed by referring to some plans of obtaining a supply. He spoke of the Morris and Essex canal rights, but laid great stress on the position of the syndicate represented by J. B. Bartlett. At Peterson the rights of the flow of the stream had been obtained by Bartlett from the Society for the Encouragement of Useful Manufactures, and Bartlett is controller of the future water supply. He held the city as if by the jugular vein and with Mr. Bartlett it was necessary to deal. The syndicate had obtained the best reservoir rights. The speaker also added that the Bartlett people proposed to make contracts for any desired length of time, and sell water for so much per millions of gallons. The city would not be asked to bond itself.
Mayor Haynes was called upon to speak. He said the Newark would have to expend over $650,000 in connection with the present system of water supply,. And he believed that if a new water supply were to be obtained action should be taken at present. He did not believe any fear need be entertained in regard to the water speculators. Their claims were open to question.
"We can store water," the Mayor said, "and keep the raceway full to overflowing. What damage is there? No one is more opposed to issuing bonds than myself, but if a new supply should cost as much as $6,000,000 I think it would be worth it."
T. B. Peddie moved that a vote of thanks be extended to Rev. Mr. Barnes. Colonel Joy amended tat the subject of the address be referred to a committee to agitate the question. The motion as amended was carried, the committee to be appointed by the president.
A Plea For The Water
"After thirty-five years of practice," said Dr. Tichenor, "I can say that I have never known a case of death or a case of sickness I could trace to our water supply. It is difficult to get pure water. Specimens of ice from Greenwood Lake contained more impurities than Newark water. Beer is what is killing the citizens of Newark."
"I would like to know how many people drink beer in consequence of bad water," said Mr. Demarest....
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