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A sewer

Sewers are underground pipes that take away dirty water and human waste from homes, offices and many other places. The sewers lead to sewage treatment plants that remove the harmful and unwanted parts, returning clean water to the environment. Many rules and regulations exist for how clean the final discharge (effluent) must be.

Cleaning crews use special trucks and tools to help keep the sewers clear of grease, tree roots, and other blockages. More rural areas may have septic systems where sewers do not yet exist. In many urban areas, street gutters to carry rainwater are combined with sewers.[1]

History[change | change source]

Around 3000 BCE however, in Skara Brae (a settlement in Scotland), there is evidence of a small ‘cell-like’ room in homes that may have been used as a primitive-style toilet. These rooms appeared to be connected to an indoor, tree bark lined, stone fresh and wastewater system, moving liquids around the small area.[2]

In Ancient China, evidence of some of the earliest water wells by humans has been found (as early as 6000 to 7000 years ago). Plumbing evidence has also been found that dates back to the Qin (221 to 206 BCE) and Han (206 BCE to 220 AD) dynasties.

The Indus Valley Civilisation in East Asia has quite a lot of early evidence in relation to sewage treatment. This Bronze Age civilization lasted from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE (in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE) and had homes made of mud or mud bricks, and clay bricks. Most houses had their own private toilet, and sewage was disposed through underground drains built with carefully laid bricks.

As part of a trend of municipal sanitation programs in the late 19th and 20th centuries, many cities constructed extensive sewer systems to help control outbreaks of disease such as typhoid and cholera.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Guttering: Plastic and Cast Iron Gutters". Retrieved 2021-11-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. "Flushed away: Sewers through history". Science Museum. Retrieved 2021-11-29.