The Water Works Conservancy

About The Water Works Conservancy

The Water Works Conservancy, Inc. (WWC) is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to history, education and historic preservation advocacy.  The WWC creates special programming, talks, workshops and history events as well as its Museum-in-a-Box exhibits and book signings to further the awareness and education of its members and audience about the importance of water as a natural resource through the lens of the history of the Hackensack River Valley and its people.  WWC is committed to an active educational outreach to children from elementary school through college and adults of all ages.

WWC also publishes books on the history of the Hackensack Water Works on Van Buskirk Island (The Hackensack Water Works by Clifford W. Zink) and the history of the Hackensack River Valley (The History of the Hackensack River Valley by Clifford W. Zink, due to be published soon).

WWC advocates the preservation and conservation of the Hackensack River and its habitat and provides programming and educational events to further the awareness of the importance of our vital resource, water, the Hackensack River and the interaction between the River and the people who live on its banks.

Additionally, the WWC is dedicated to advocating the preservation of the intact National Historic Hackensack Water Company site on Van Buskirk Island and the steam pumping equipment and the intact, 100-year timeline of technology inside for future generations. The Historic Hackensack Water Works is listed on both the state and the national Registers of Historic Sites for National Importance.  In 2000, it became a Designated Project of Save America's Treasures; and has been judged eligible to become a National Historic Landmark.  A NHL nomination is pending.  WWC supports Bergen County in the preservation and restoration of the site and the development of programming to open this wonderful National Historic resource to the citizens of Bergen County and the nation.

WWC has an active Board of Directors; a Board of Advisors; an active Membership and volunteers and supporters from the area, greater New Jersey and throughout the United States and the world.  WWC welcomes all who are interested as members, friends and volunteers.


President, Philip Salerno III
Vice President, Howard Koval
Treasurer, Linda Besink
Corresponding Secretary, Anne Reynolds


Dr. Steve Boswell, Engineer, CEO of Boswell Engineering, Hackensack, NJ

Dr. Angela Cristini, Director of Graduate Environmental Technology Program at Ramapo College and Director of Educational Programming at the Meadowlands Educational Center

Frank R. Vierling, Oradell Borough Historian, Retired after 34 years as a Radio and Television Engineer for NBC, lifetime resident of Oradell, NJ, Founding and present member of Friends of the Oradell Library, member of Oradell Historical Committee and a member of "Peacock North," an NBC retiree group for which he published a 48 page newsletter three times a year for 18 years, n the summer in Maine is a member of the Raymond/Casco Historical Society and for several years published their newsletter, published The Atwood Mansion,  an historical book on the Victorian mansion in Oradell; and wrote and edited the Borough of Oradell's book on its100-year History.

Ted Hoffman, Retired Mathematics teacher and son of the last Plant Engineer at the Hackensack Water Company

Maggie L. Harrer, Board President Emeritus, Freelance Producer/Director Theater, Television, Film and Opera, Artistic Director of Oradell Arts & Business Coalition, Producing Director of OperaFest on Martha's Vineyard and NJ, member Borough of Oradell Planning Board. Oradell, NJ 

Conrad Milster, Chief of Engineering, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

Jeffrey Frederick Wells, AIA, Wells Associates, Oradell, NJ

Clifford W. Zink, Historian and Author of books on New Jersey history, former Executive Director of The Roebling Complex in Trenton, NJ, resident of Princeton, NJ

WWC has received general operating support through a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

If you wish to learn more about WWC, please call  201-265-1000 , e-mail  or mail to: WWC, PO Box 714, Oradell, NJ 07649.


Former WWC President Tom M. Cohen, center holds a Certificate of a General Operating Support Award from NJ Historical Commission (also in Photo, Left, Marc Mappen former Director, NJHC, Nina Mitchell Wells, former Secretary of State, Maggie L. Harrer, WWC Founding President and Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle, 2nd from right.


logo of Save America's Treasures

In the year 2000, President Clinton created and authorized Save America’s Treasures to designate historic sites around the nation that are “so important to the history of the United States that they must be preserved and restored.”

In 2000, the historic Hackensack Water Works on Van Buskirk Island was designated an OFFICIAL PROJECT OF SAVE AMERICA’S TREASURES. At the Hackensack Water Works, for the first time in history, in 1906, water was safe from water born diseases due to the rapid sand filtration process installed and modified at the site and the discovery that the use of certain chemicals, including chlorine, killed the bacteria which cause most water-born diseases like cholera and typhoid.

The rapid sand filtration method became the national and international standard for water treatment. Another invention at the site, activated charcoal filtration, made the water not only safe, but potable. Until the late ‘20’s, the water often tasted like whatever was in the Hackensack River at the time. Chemists and biologists at the Hackensack Water Company on Van Buskirk Island experimented with Charcoal as part of the filtration process to remove the flavors in the water that made the taste objectionable.

Of three sites in the nation that initiated the rapid sand filtration process, one in Little Falls, NJ, one in St. Louis Missouri and the Hackensack Water Works, only the Hackensack Water Works survives to this day intact.

Hackensack River looking north

logo for "Arts & History in Bergen County"

Funding has been made possible in part through grant funds administered by the Bergen County Department of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs through a General Operating Support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.

Website Graphic Design by Chris Rover
Website Technical Design by Barbara Bdjimopoulos