In 1908, chlorine chemistry’s germ-defeating properties were demonstrated in drinking water in two very different settings in the United States. First, chlorination transformed animal feed water, drawn from a highly polluted stream in Chicago’s Union Stockyards, into a product that exceeded the purity of city water. Days later, in Jersey City, chlorinated water was supplied for the first time on a permanent basis to a large U.S. municipality. The results included a dramatic decline in the local typhoid fever rate and a water supply that, according to a 1928 sanitary engineering report, “is not only of a high sanitary quality, but…it compares favorably with the best in the country.”
Good news traveled quickly and within a decade, drinking water chlorination spread to nearly every large city in the country. It has been called “a tremendous boon in the safeguarding of public health all over the world and is probably the most important and efficient sanitary measure of protection ever introduced.”
Unable to find the appropriate electrolytic equipment that would yield chlorine gas or liquid bleach, Leal decided to use powdered chloride of lime, the same disinfectant used by Johnson in Chicago. The necessary treatment apparatus was designed by Mr. George Warren Fuller of Hering & Fuller. Fuller created a system to add dissolved chloride of lime into the water supply as it left the Boonton Reservoir and flowed to the city. On September 26, 1908, the chlorination of Jersey City water began with George A. Johnson of Hering & Fuller, veteran of Bubbly Creek, in charge of operations. September 26, 2008 marks a century of continuous chlorination for this pioneering water system.
- Report of W.C. Mallalieu, Sanitary Engineer consultant, New York City, 1928.
- Report of Daniel D. Jackson, Sanitary and Chemical Engineer, Executive Officer of the Dept. of Chemical Engineering of Columbia University, November, 1928.