January 26

The Old Tank Stream, Sydney, Australia

The Old Tank Stream, Sydney, Australia

January 26, 1788: Tank Stream. Sydney, Australia is the site of the original New South Wales Colony founded on this day in 1788. Fed by local groundwater, Tank Stream served as the water supply for the first 40 years until it became too polluted to use. An excellent source of information on the history of groundwater development in Australia can be found in Chapter 7 of a free, online book about the geology of the continent that has astonishing pictures, maps and graphics.  “The [New South Wales ] colony had originally been planned for Botany Bay, on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks who had visited the area with Captain James Cook 17 years earlier, but when no fresh water was found there, Phillip sought a better site, and found it in the previously unvisited Port Jackson. Sydney Cove was chosen for settlement as it ‘was at the head of the cove, near the run of fresh water which stole silently along through a very thick wood.’

During a drought in 1790 three storage tanks were constructed in the sandstone beside the Tank Stream and it is from these that the stream gets its name. The Tank Stream could not meet the needs of the growing colony. It was abandoned in 1826, though it had been little more than an open sewer for the preceding two decades.”

Rudolph Hering

Rudolph Hering

January 26, 1907:  Letter to the Editor, New York Times, by Rudolph Hering.  “Mr. Hering of the firm Hering and Fuller criticized the proposal to create sewage farms in the New York City area to receive the sewage generated by the City.  Mr. Poultney Bigelow proposed using the “Berlin method” to apply sewage to the land so that it would be rendered harmless and not poison fish.  Mr. Bigelow thought that the Hackensack meadows which were “useless barren waste[lands]” would be perfect for the application.  Mr. Hering noted that one acre of land would be need to dispose of the wastes from 156 people.  He suggested that a simple calculation would make it obvious that there was not enough land available to receive the flow from the City.  Besides, Mr. Hering noted, there was an enormous mass of water floating by New York–The Hudson and East Rivers.”

0126 Moses N BakerJanuary 26, 1864:  Moses N. Baker is born. “Moses N. Baker (1864–1955) was a noted editor and author in the field of drinking water history and technology. His most important book is still used today: The Quest for Pure Water: The History of Water Purification from the Earliest Records to the Twentieth Century. He was also active in the field of public health holding several positions on boards of health at the state and local levels.”


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