Prior to 1817, the original water supply of the Village of Newburgh (now the City of Newburgh) was mainly supplied water from shallow hand dug wells. As it became more settled, it was apparent that "good and wholesome water for family purpose and to supply the engines with water in cases of fire" was needed. This need was filled when the State Legislature passed and formed the Newburgh Aqueduct Association. This allowed for the collection of funds (water rents) to secure water from the privately owned "Cold Spring" that was located at the present location of the Washington Street School. This spring, together with other springs within the corporate limits supplied the Village with water until around 1852.
In 1852, the Village's first reservoir, Monell's Reservoir ("the Trout Hole") was constructed and was fed water from Little Pond (now Washington Lake) through underground channels originating at the "Swallow Hole." These channels, although not part of the present reservoir system, still exist and function as they did in the 1800's. This reservoir supplied the Village through a 12-inch diameter cast iron water main. Due to increased demand, this water main was replaced with a 20 inch diameter water main in 1887.
The present-day Washington Lake Reservoir was constructed and in 1907, a 30 inch cast iron low service was added to the system to meet the ever increasing demands of the Village. The Washington Lake Reservoir Dam has been raised many times over the years to increase the storage capacity of the reservoir. It now holds approximately 1.5 billion gallons of water (the total use of the City of Newburgh for one year). The original 20-inch and 30-inch water mains, although over 100 years old, are still in operation and supply the City of Newburgh with water every day.
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