Skip to main content

Challenge of Newark's Water Supply

Your challenge


You are a member of the Board of Pollution in Newark, NJ in January 1889. You have been presented with several reports from scientists, industry, citizens, and newspaper articles. At the next meeting of the Board of Pollution, you will be asked to make a speech on your position about the water supply for Newark.


Your choices


  • Find a new water supply for Newark: Is the pollution so bad that the river cannot be fixed? Where will you find this new supply of water for a growing city?
  • Fix the water of the Passaic: Is there a way to limit the amount of pollution added to the river, and can the water be purified? Will this source provide enough clean water to support a growing city?


For either choice, you must cite the appropriate evidence from the reports given to you. If you choose option A, you will be asking the city to spend at least $2-4 million. This is a lot of money in 1889! Choosing option B will also cost money, but it will be much less expensive.




Read through the various reports supplied to you. Consider all the evidence. When you have decided which choice to support, write a persuasive speech that incorporates the relevant evidence.


If you are working with a small group, assign a set of documents for each group member to examine. Share the information with each other and come to an agreement about which option to propose. Each group member should contribute equally to the research and development of your persuasive speech. Group members could also take on tasks such as internet research or creation of visual aids to compliment your speech.




Visit the list of under Resource Links on the left to begin your research.