The New Haven Green first got water for drinking and fire protection in 1862. Now the Green will commemorate the arrival of its first water, appropriately, with a fountain.

The octagonal design, which will include 32 jets of water, will replace the iron fence that currently surrounds the war memorial on the lower Green, across from City Hall. The fountain will be surrounded by a walkway and three stone benches. A groundbreaking ceremony for the approximately $540,000 project took place on Aug. 20.

“The gift was made in honor of the 150 years of providing water to the New Haven area,” said Joan Huwiler, a spokeswoman for the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority.

The New Haven Water Company was organized in 1849, but a city committee to oversee water distribution was established in 1852.

A five-person group known as the Proprietors of the Green is responsible for managing the Green. Proprietor Ann Calabresi said the board is very careful about adding to the Green.

“We all think that fountains make people feel good about where they live and the day that they are having,” Calabresi said. “We try to keep it very simple because otherwise the place would become littered with benches, with plaques.”

Michael Morand, Yale’s associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs, said the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority approached Yale about helping to fund the fountain, “like good neighbors.” The University will contribute $25,000 to the project.

Morand said the proprietors see adding the fountain as a way to create a place of rest within the city.

“The Green is the great heart of the community and provides, in the hustle and bustle, a place for people to rest and for the community to come together,” Morand said.

Scott Healy, the executive director of Town Green Special Services District, said the proprietors do not often allow changes to the Green.

“[The fountain] is just another symbol of New Haven’s resurgence as a very comfortable, beautiful place to live,” Healy said.

Charles Newton Schenk III ’44, the former chairman of the Proprietors of the Green, spearheaded the fountain project. Schenk passed away in February.

“Newton was beloved in New Haven and he was a real inspiration in public service,” Morand said.

Calabresi said that although the proprietors are about to appoint a new member, no one will ever be able to replace Schenk.

“He was really a great man and deserves a great deal of the credit for making this happen,” Calabresi said.

The landscape architects for the project are Quenell Rothschilds and Partners. Architect Peter Rothschild was responsible for a renovation of the Green completed in the late 1980s.

The project will cost $540,661.02, of which the city of New Haven will pay $290,661.02 and the Proprietors of the Green will contribute $125,000. The South Central Regional Water Authority will give $100,000 in cash and will provide the water for the fountain.