(Teachers: After the students have completed the activity, you can share with them the actual decision of the Newark Board of Pollution)
What did they finally decide to do?
"Grave indeed was the situation at the end of the eighth decade. The East Jersey Water Company, of which Garrett A. Hobart of Paterson, vice-president of the United States in the first McKinley administration, was the moving spirit, agreed to supply Newark with a water system, complete for $6,000,000. It was proposed to build a dam in the Pequannock water-shed, erect reservoirs, store water in a region having a flow of 25,000,000 or 30,000,000 gallons, build a pipeline to the Belleville reservoir, and then turn the plant over to the city. The offer was accepted and the celebration of the new system it was expected would be held in the autumn of 1891. The colossal enterprise, the most ambitious undertaking of Newark up to that time, was not ready, however. Each day in 1892 was named for turning on the water.
The telephone message came at last at 9:57 on the morning of January 12, to the City Hall, announcing that the water had just been turned on in the mains and was flowing along toward the Belleville reservoir. Engineer Herschel, of the East Jersey Water Company, released the water at the dam. The flow was then eight million gallons daily.
The total amount spent upon the system up to 1916 was about $21,234,000, ..."
from: Narratives of Newark
Suggestion for using The Challenge of Newark's Water Supply: Students can work in small groups or pairs on this activity. There are many documents to be examined, and students may benefit from concentrating on a few documents and sharing their findings in small groups. These groups can then write and present their speech together.
- Draw a map of the pollution sources and cities that used the water from the Passaic River. Get a printable blank outline map of New Jersey. Use Professor Leed's report to map out the location of industries, sources of sewage, and the cities that used the Passaic as their water source. After the locations are marked, follow the path of the water as it travels to Newark. How much pollution do you think it has gathered by the time it reaches Newark? Check your answers using the map from Professor Leed's Report. You can also use this list of questions in conjunction with the map.
- Instead of writing persuasive speeches (or in addition to), the students could create a public education pamphlet or poster to inform the public of the information gathered by scientists. The posters could inform the public of the dangers and source of water pollution.
- Use the statistics to make charts and graphs showing the death rates in New Jersey. Do they get better or worse over time? What do you think accounts for these changes?
- Compare the death rate statistics in Newark to those of other major cities. Was the death rate higher or lower? Do you think the water supply was the main cause?
- What is the Newark water supply like today? Research the current quality of water in Newark, NJ. See suggested websites
- Document Analysis: Use the Critical Analysis Written Document Sheet to analyze one or more of the documents under the Resource Links to the left.
- Each of the testimonials emphasizes a different problem in using the Passiac River. Have students read through the testimonials and make a list of all the problems they can find. They can use the testimonials in conjunction with the map to better understand the various types of pollution.