Easton Drinking Water History
The Easton Area has remained a key center of travel, trade, and industry along the Delaware River since it was originally laid out in 1752, and water supply has formed an important basis for the area's growth and development. Easton was incorporated as a Borough in 1789, and area residents at that time obtained their water supply from their individual springs and wells.
Public water service in Easton began in 1817, with the formation of the Easton Water Company. The Company first transmitted water from springs on College Hill through wooden pipes to a reservoir on North Sixth Street. Water was distributed from the reservoir to fire hydrants in various parts of town. New facilities were constructed in 1840 to take water from the Delaware River, just above Bushkill Creek, and pump it to a reservoir on College Hill.
In 1854, the West Ward Water Company was formed to provide water to the growing western part of the town. A pumping station, constructed along the Lehigh River near Spring Street, pumped to a reservoir near 15th and Northampton Streets. Later, a pumping station was erected along the Delaware River to pump water to a reservoir on College Hill. The Company had financial difficulties, which led to its purchase by the new Lehigh Water Company in 1860.
By 1881, Lehigh River water was polluted by coal dirt and oil, and a new pumping station was constructed along the Delaware River. Distribution improvements included the East Low Reservoir on College Hill in 1890, a new standpipe next to the 1 5th Street Reservoir in 1904, the North High Reservoir in 1916, and the West Low Reservoir in 1926. In 1929, the Lehigh Water Company acquired the Easton Water Company system. The filtration plant on North Delaware Drive was constructed in 1932 by the Lehigh Water Company.
The South Easton Water Company was formed in 1886 to provide service on the south side of the Lehigh River. Other parts of the growing area were served independently by the Palmer Township Water Company formed in 1910, the West Easton Water Company formed in 1910, and the Glendon Water Company formed in 1917. These four systems were combined to form the Northampton Consolidated Water Company in 1924. The consolidated company obtained its supply from wells at Bush Kill Park and Abbott Street and springs on Morgan Hill in order to serve Easton's south side and parts of Wilson, West Easton, Glendon and Palmer Township.
In 1936, the City of Easton purchased the Lehigh Water Company for $2,750,000 and the Northampton Consolidated Water Company for $1,100,000 and began City public water service in the Easton Area. During the next thirty years, the various well and spring supplies were abandoned, and the Delaware River became the only source of public water supply. In 1936, the combined system served 11,640 customers an average of 3.35 million gallons per day (mgd).
The City continued to serve the expanding water needs of the Easton Area by improving the water system and extending mains and service lines to suburban residents. To facilitate extension of service to suburban residents, without incurring additional financial burdens on City residents, the Easton Suburban Water Authority was established in 1957 to serve customers outside the City limits with water purchased from the City. The Authority then constructed the Knox Avenue Pumping Station, Palmer Standpipe, and Wilden Acres Stand- pipe to improve and expand suburban water service. The Authority and the City jointly financed an alternate transmission main from the filtration plant to the East and West Low Reservoirs. Continued suburban expansion led to the construction of the Plainfield Tank as well as numerous new mains.
The foundation of the entire water system remains the filtration plant along the Delaware River. A June 1967 study prepared by Gannett Fleming Corddry and Carpenter recommended the renovation and expansion of the water filtration plant and the covering and lining of the East, West and North High Reservoirs. The City and the Authority again cooperated to finance the much-needed system improvements. The renovation and expansion project included expanding the filtration plant from 8 MGD to 12 MGD to enable the plant to adequately serve increasing water demands of the Easton Area, rehabilitating and upgrading the filtration plant processes, modernizing the control of unit treatment operations, and lining and covering the three open reservoirs. The City of Easton and Easton Suburban Water Authority are now again in the process of undertaking a large modernization and expansion of the treatment plant and its processes to improve water quality, meet growing demand, and comply with new federal drinking water standards. The new design will enable the plant to treat up to 16 MGD and will include new residual solids handling facilities, a new pumping main installed from the plant to the reservoirs on College Hill, and major improvements to filters, pumps, and other major infrastructure at the plant. Thanks to the continued cooperation between City of Easton and the Easton Suburban Water Authority, a safe and reliable water supply remains a sound basis for the industrial and residential growth of the Easton Area, as it has for the last 200 years.