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Water, Water, Everywhere...

The uniqueness of water's abundance in the Massapequas and how it gets into our homes and businesses every day.

The Native Americans who lived in this area for several centuries had it right when they called the area Marsapeague (or Mashpeague, according to some sources), Great Water Land.

A quick glance at any map will show the inlets and streams that abound here. For New York City in the late 1800s, this water became a sought-after treasure. In an act of amazing foresight, New York City leaders in the 1840s had bought large parcels of land upstate and laid out a series of reservoirs and water tunnels to provide clean and abundant supplies to residents.

Forty years later, as the City, which was then just Manhattan, began to take over parts of Queens and eventually the town of Brooklyn, the need for a water supply for those areas became quite apparent.

The source became apparent just as readily: Long Island's South Shore, which had numerous lakes and ponds, fed by streams from the center of the island and sitting atop huge underground aquifers. New York City entered into negotiations with Town of Hempstead and Town of Oyster Bay representatives to construct a series of pumping stations and water pipes parallel to the Long Island Railroad right-of-way and to connect the supply to the Ridgewood Reservoir, which had been the main water source for Brooklyn and Queens up to that time.

Water beganto flow westward in 1891, controlled by a large pumping station constructed outside of Freeport, the remains of which were visible from the railroad until they were torn down recently,

POST WORLD WAR I 

For residents of the Massapequa area, the need for water did not become an issue until the 1920s. There were few residents in the area and most took water from wells they had sunk into the aquifer.

When the Massapequa Fire District was established in 1910, Commissioners expressed concerns about available water supplies in case of fires. Large landowners, mainly Floyd-Jones family members, had sunk deep wells, but individual owners had much smaller wells, which could hinder the efforts of firefighters.

Queens Land and Title Company in northwest Massapequa before 1914, and during the 1920s, the law firm of Brady, Cryan and Colleran, in what became Massapequa Park, began to lay out streets and advertise houses for sale in the area.

The Town of Oyster Bay responded to these activities by establishing water district boundaries in 1927 and incorporating a Water District, whose Commissioners would have control over the water supply.  The Commissioners purchased water from the New York Water Service Corporation, bought property for wells, let out contracts to sink them and to lay pipe, as well as to pave over the pipelines, installed meters in individual homes, and established rates. The original rate was $.40 per 1,000 gallons. By comparison, the current rate starts at $1.30 per 1,000 gallons and rises to $2.38 per 1,000 depending on the amount of water used.


The District also negotiated with New York City to regain control of local water supplies, essentially closing the pipes that were strung along what became Sunrise Highway. Other South Shore localities did the same, prompting New York City to create the Jamaica Water Company, which became responsible to supply Brooklyn and Queens residents.

Not everybody was pleased by these developments. When the Water District was created in 1927, several prominent citizens lodged an early protest to its plans. Among them were Edward H. Floyd-Jones, Anita Owen Floyd-Jones, George Floyd-Jones and Louisa Floyd-Jones Thorn, large landowners who were quite content to pump their own water instead of having others do it for them.

Accordingly, the present Water District excludes land between the high school and Park Boulevard south of May Place, most of the land south of Merrick Road and land north of Jerusalem Avenue. Aqua Water Company serves the southernproperties, the South Farmingdale Water District supplies the northern area.

POST WORLD WAR II

The Water District served its members without incident until after World War II, when the population explosion forced it to expand its efforts. There were 184 connections in 1931 and 9,090 connections in 1955, and that number grew by the day. Accordingly, the District bought control of the water supply from New York Water, sank four new wells and laid many additional miles of pipe, giving it a total capacity of 16.5 million gallons. In 2005, to ensure uninterruptedservice, the District constructed Well # 9, located on the north side of Sunrise Highway just west of Hicksville Road.

SUNRISE HIGHWAY

What we now know as Sunrise Highway did not exist until the early 1900s, when it was laid out along the route of the pipes that carried water into Queens.

The pipes in New York City ran along Conduit Boulevard and the road in Nassau County was originally called Pipeline Boulevard. Residents and elected officials found that name ungraceful and it was eventually renamed Sunrise Highway.

Pumping Station

The picture accompanying this blog is of the main pumping station in Massapequa, on the north side of Sunrise Highway just south of the reservoir (yes, the lake is still officially a reservoir because it was designed to store the water from the adjacent streams). The signon the front reads "City of New York Department of Water Supply G & E Massapequa No. 1 Pumping Station

A NOTE ON SOURCES

Much of the material in this blog was taken from a history of the Massapequa Water District by Sal LaGumina. The author is grateful to Mr. LaGumina for his painstaking research and illuminating manuscript.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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