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New England Water Supplies – A Brief History
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

Marcis Kempe, the Director of Operations Support at MWRA as well as a devoted historian, is the author of New England Water Supplies – A Brief History.

This detailed and concise paper, published in the September 2006 Journal of the New England Waterworks Association, reviews the historical development of New England water supplies by delving into the development of water sources over the years including public health issues, the evolution of water quality regulations and water treatment, and the growth of distribution systems and their components.

As Kempe illustrates, the major social, economic, and environmental developments that have occurred since the settlement of New England have had huge impacts and repercussions on the water supply, which stresses the importance of MWRA to safely and effectively provide water and sewer services to its customer communities. 

cover of NEWWA Journal September 2006

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New England Water Supplies -
A Brief History

New England Water Supplies – A Brief History
by Marcis Kempe, MWRA
NEWWA Journal, September 2006
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Cover artwork by

Complete Paper (4.9MB)
New England Water Supplies - A Brief History

 Philadelphia’s 1815 Centre Square pump station, the first municipal water supply steam pump in the US Cover, Abstract, Author and Artist Information
The “Conduit”, Boston’s 1652 supply, the first Water Works in the U.S. Chapter 1
Drinking water in the early days
Inside Attleboro’s dug well Chapter 2
The Search for Water – Growth and Water Source Development
The drinking cup – a common practice in public fountains of the late 1800’s and the source of much waterborne disease transmission Chapter 3
Public Health and Water Quality, Water Treatment
LSPL Relaying 46 Inch Main Damaged by Electrolysis Boylston St. Near Eliot St. Cambridge, November 1910 Chapter 4
Water Distribution Systems and Water Efficiency
World War I water wagon Chapter 5
Disasters, War and Emergency Planning
Water pipe rigging using chainfalls Chapter 6
Managing the Water System
This 1906 photo shows a tour of Wachusett Dam construction being conducted for the Consulting Engineers of the Panama Canal. Chapter 7
NEWWA – the People, the Forums, the Difference They Made
 1951 early version of McIroy Pipe network analyzer Chapter 8
Where Will the Future Go?
Example of early waste discharge impacting household well A Closing Thought – Appreciating History
1889 algae chart Bibliography and Image Credits

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Updated July 9, 2012
Posted June 27, 2012