History of water supply and sanitation
Water supply and sanitation has been a primary logistical challenge since the dawn of civilization. Where water resources or infrastructure or sanitation systems are insufficient for the population, people fall prey to disease, dehydration, and in extreme cases, death.
Major human settlements could initially develop only where fresh surface water was plentiful, such as near major rivers. Over the millennia, technology has dramatically increased the distances across which water can be relocated, but the availability of clean and fresh water remains a limiting factor on the size and density of population centers, and is expected to remain so into the foreseeable future.
As recently as the late 19th century sewerage systems in some parts of the rapidly industrializing United Kingdom were so inadequate that water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid remained a risk.
From as early as 1535 there were efforts to stop polluting the River Thames in London. Beginning with an Act passed that year that was to prohibit the dumping of excrement into the river. Leading up to the Industrial Revolution the River Thames was identified as being thick and black due to sewage, and it was even said that the river ?smells like death.?24 As Britain was the first country to industrialize, it was also the first to experience the disastrous consequences of major urbanisation and was the first to construct a modern sewerage system to mitigate the resultant unsanitary conditions.citation needed During the early 19th century, the River Thames was effectively an open sewer, leading to frequent outbreaks of cholera epidemics. Proposals to modernise the sewerage system had been made during 1856, but were neglected due to lack of funds. However, after the Great Stink of 1858, Parliament realised the urgency of the problem and resolved to create a modern sewerage system.
Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer and Chief Engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works, was given responsibility for the work. He designed an extensive underground sewerage system that diverted waste to the Thames Estuary, downstream of the main centre of population. Six main interceptor sewers, totalling almost 100 miles (160 km) in length, were constructed, some incorporating stretches of London's 'lost' rivers. Three of these sewers were north of the river, the southernmost, low-level one being incorporated in the Thames Embankment. The Embankment also allowed new roads, new public gardens, and the Circle Line of the London Underground.
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