History of water supply, sanitation and drainage.
Wastewater Reuse Activities
Classic and early modern Mesoamerica
Sewage farms for disposal and irrigation
Bristol, Liverpool, London and other cities, UK
The challenge to provide clean water supplies and safe sanitation systems to worldwide communities has been ongoing since civilisation began. Poor sanitation systems or improper water sources lead to illness, the spread of diseases and premature death across the world, and so there has always been a need for effective and clean systems.
Initially humans were only able to settle near fresh water sources where there was a continuous supply of water, like near natural springs and rivers. These settlers, throughout history, have developed systems to ensure that their communities can more easily gather and dispose of water and waste.
Historically, sewage has been disposed of by transporting the waste to a large, natural water source and diluting the sewage by emptying the waste into the water source. This method of waste disposal meant that, as many early human settlements were near rivers, that these rivers became simple, natural waste disposals.
Modern advancements in technology now mean that water can be transported far further than has ever been possible before, as well as huge improvements having been made in water purification technology and the treatment of wastewater.
The creation of the first lasting water wells in the Neolithic era meant containers could be filled with water and easily transported by hand. In the Jezreel Valley, wells have been discovered from as early as 6500BC and it is clear humans largely chose where they settled based on the nearest water source.
The Barnhouse Settlement, from roughly 3000 BC, featured primitive wastewater systems in their houses. These were lined with tree bark and made from stone. These houses, as well as the houses of Skara Brae, also featured what is thought to have been an early indoor lavatory.