Modern age

History of water supply, sanitation and drainage.
Wastewater Reuse Activities
Ancient China
Roman Empire
Islamic World
Medieval Europe
Classic and early modern Mesoamerica
Sewage farms for disposal and irrigation
Modern age
Bristol, Liverpool, London and other cities, UK

Although the Romans revolutionised plumbing and heating systems, their efforts were largely unnoticed by the rest of Europe and so few advancements were made within this field until the Enlightenment era. This ear, in the 17th and 18th centuries, brought with it fast and effective advancements in plumbing and water systems.

The Industrial Revolution caused an unprecedented amount of pollution to flood into cities. This caused large and continuous outbreaks of disease within these large cities.

Flushable toilets became more widely accessible in the 19th century, but they were still only available for wealthy members of society. As only the wealthy had access to these facilities, they also had the influence that allowed them to dispose of their waste into communal, public sewers. Once indoor plumbing became more accessible to other members of the public, this waste disposal method became the norm after large-scale networks were formed like the Croton Aqueduct in New York.

Concerns about the health of the public were broadcast in the 19th century as cities began to expand and grow. To help contain and handle this, and specifically the outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, intricate sewer systems were constructed in the late 19th century across many large cities.

Originally these sewage systems transported the waste straight into water sources without treating it at all. Later on, attempts were made to treat the sewage before it entered the water source to reduce pollution in the water and the outbreaks of diseases that spread through the water supply. The predicted life expectancy of the population within these cities largely increased, thanks to these new measures, over the 50 years following the beginning of the 20th century.

An early waste disposal technique, during this time, was to use agricultural land as land treatment systems. This method prevailed into the 19th and 20th centuries in mainland Europe, across the world and predominantly in America but did cause large scale, negative public health concerns and environmental issues. In the 1840s and 50s this technique did result in the spreading of dangerous waterborne illnesses like typhoid and cholera. Once the link between these issues and the water supply was realised, alternate techniques were implemented to prevent these issues. For example, other cleaner water sources were sourced using aqueduct systems and reservoirs and new waste treatment systems were introduced.

At the end of the 19th century chemical treatment and sedimentation systems began to be added to the sewage systems of some major cities. The University of Manchester uncovered the waste treatment procedure of activated sludge in 1912 and this led to more modern cities providing more funding and gaining more expensive sewage treatment systems during this time.

Bristol, Liverpool, London and other cities, UK