Sewers: we can’t live with them, we can’t live without them, isn’t that right? No one really wants to know that sewers exist. Even the word smells funny. Well, not literally but you get it. It just makes you want to go take a shower. But then you realize there is a sewer attached to your drain; gross! Two of the worst household jobs according to surveys of home owners is cleaning out the pea trap that is located under the sink and unclogging sink and shower drains. This is about as disgusting as it gets for us. However, this is nothing compared to what people had to deal with before sewers were invented. I’m sure they would have loved to only have to worry about stinky food and wadded up hair. Well, this article is designed to try and help you think a little more positively about sewers. They are not just dirty, disease ridden rat homes. Here are a few facts to help you see how helpful sewers are now:
In the Olden Days…
- The very first sanitation system was built in the Middle East near Iran. Before this, waste was gathered and dumped into the River Thames with no cleansing or purifying. This lead to many outbreaks of cholera.
- In 1858 something happened, known as the ‘Great Stink’. For the summer months in July and August in London, the weather made the smell of human waste so unbearable that the smell alone was thought to cause disease and sickness.
- Until 1858, every proposal to modernize the sewer system was dismissed because of lack of funds. The truth was, they didn’t think it was important enough until the Great Stink happened.
- At least in England, the waste was dumped in the water. In Venice in the 15th century, Venetians would throw their waste into the streets. Seeing as the streets are made of water, the water did sweep most of it out to the sea; most of it. And only twice a day. However, as disgusting a ritual as this was, it was this very idea that gave people the idea for a real sewer system.
- Hepatitis A and enteroviruses have been found in the waste that people dump making open sewage very dangerous to human health.
- Any kind of flooding that happened was worse than water damage, I’ll leave it to your imagination to explore.
In Our Day and Age…
- Nowadays there is a biochemical process that happens in order to neutralize the sewage, decomposing it so that it dissolves in the water.
- Sewage treatment is done in three stages, removal of solids, the biochemical process and lastly the removal of bacteria and organic matter.
- Our sewage is required to be treated in such a away that it removes odors and harmful diseases.
- Before being treated, sewage is kept separate from our regular waters in holding tanks or septic tanks.
- Sewer lines are require to run through inhabited areas completely enclosed until they reach the treatment area.
- We no longer hae to worry about water pollution, disease, stench and other problems as technology continues to make sewage disposal more and more environmentally friendly.
Take a look at these two sets of six facts and tell me that we are a pretty lucky generation. Living back before correct sewage disposal was in place was unnecessarily hazardous to humans. They didn’t have the information and knowledge that we have today and for many years did not realize that a simple solution could prevent them from getting sick and epidemics taking place so often. Many grew old in a repressed, polluted and toxic environment simply because of the way that the waste was being disposed of. The truth is, we may get frustrated with random pipe repairs that need to be done or sewer replacement but like many things, we don’t realize how good we really have it. Keep these facts in mind and be grateful for the system that we now have in place today that keeps us safe, sanitary and healthy.