Monday, December 10, 2012

Sewers and toilets in Iquitos, Peru (Part Three)

The sewer system of Iquitos, Peru is old, built originally around 1890, during the Rubber Boom, and it needs a serious upgrade; or, in fact, a total redo. Much if not all of the city is now undergoing that process, and it brings with it some inconvenience, and in some cases, more, sometimes serious injury and death due to construction that impedes traffic and ends up killing people when roads aren't closed or even properly marked as under repair. Some people in Iquitos are justifiably outraged. But progress marches on, and the new sewer system will come about regardless.

To read the rest of this story, please turn to the following link;

Until recently sewage was an assumed aspect of life that one endured along with disease and debilitation and war and death. Few gave it it the slightest thought, relieving themselves at will regardless of place or occasion. There have been sporadic attempts to remove sewage from living quarters, but they were rare and discontinued shortly. People endured the filth.

3200 BCE Scotland: In the Orkney Islands excavations show early drainage systems. At Maes Howe the “first lavatory-like plumbing systems were fitted into recesses in the walls of homes -- with drained outlets. Certain liquid wastes drained to area(s) either under or outside of buildings/homes.”

India is perhaps the first site of toilets and sewers, (c.f. D.W. Walker, A Genealogy of Left Dhimmi Fascism, Vol IV. Oikos II: World and Man. [In progress])

Ancient cities used covered channels and pipes to remove wastes from buildings, probably as far back as 8000 B.C. There is evidence of indoor plumbing pipes in Scotland from that time, although the sewage was tunneled straight out to a nearby creek [source: Bloomington]. Cesspits were found under homes in Iraq dating from as long ago as 4000 B.C. These systems fell into disrepair during the Middle Ages. Throughout this era, wastes and refuse were simply thrown out into the street. By the 18th century, many large cities had systems for removing rainwater, but sewage was usually disposed of in cesspools.

Because man is at least a social if not a herd animal, the concept of personal privacy is a late development, man generally having lived in immediate proximity to other men, and also with domestic animals, the sewage piling up unnoticed till the rise of cities during the Industrial Age and the population explosion brought about by rational agricutlure, at which time people began dying en masse due to what was at the time thought of as the curse of miasma, i.e. bad air, the cause of disease as if was understood before the general if reluctant acceptance of germ theory. Previously, sewage systems were spotty at best.

4000 - 2500 BCE Eshnunna/Babylonia - Mesopotamian Empire (Iraq)
  • Had stormwater drain systems in the streets; drains were constructed of sun-baked bricks or cut stone. Some homes were connected. [The need for proper disposal of human wastes was not fully understood -- but there was a recognition of some of the benefits (less odor, etc.) of taking these wastes away from homes.]
  • In Babylon, in some of the larger homes, people squatted over an opening in the floor of a small interior room. The wastes fell through the opening into a perforated cesspool located under the house. Those cesspools were often made of baked perforated clay rings -- ranging in size from 18" to 36" in diameter -- stacked atop each other. Smaller homes often had smaller cesspools (18" diameter); larger homes ... more people ... had larger diameter cesspools. The annular space (1') outside of the cesspools' walls were often filled with pieces of broken pottery to better the percolation rates.
  • Origin of the earliest known pipe: Babylonia was documented by many as one of the first places to mold clay into pipe (via potter's wheel). Tees and angle joints were produced and then baked to make drainage pipe ... all as early as 4000 BCE.

Rome was probably the first Western city to house a permanent population of one million people, c. 1 B.C. They created an aqueduct system to provide water to the city, and the overflow cleaned the streets by chance. Public latrines made an appearance, and the Cloaca Maxima was constructed.

800 BCE - 300 CE Rome
  • Complex drain systems evolved (initially, and primarily, for storm water and for draining marshes).
  • Public latrines were used by many people, but for the most part, human wastes were thrown into the street.
  • First sewer constructed between 800 and 735 BCE.
  • Rome had extensive street washing programs (water supplied by aqueducts, the first being built in 312 BCE). Only a few homes had water piped directly from the aqueducts. The vast majority of the people came to fountains to gather their water. Even though not many homes were directly plumbed into the sewers, when the wastes were thrown into the street, the street washing resulted in most of the human wastes ending up in the sewers anyway!
  • Direct connection of homes to the sewers was not mandated until nearly 100 CE. (Cost was a factor; also mandating such a connection was then considered an invasion of privacy.)
  • Sewage resulting from the public baths and the included latrines was discharged into sewers. It is worth noting that the Romans recognized the value of their water (which had been transported to the city via aqueducts, often over a distance of 20-30 miles); as such, any wastewater from the public bath facilities was often re-used, frequently as the flushing water that flowed continuously through the public latrine facilities. From the latrines, it flowed to a point of discharge into the sewer system.
  • The Romans were proud of their "rooms of easement" (i.e., latrines). Public baths included such rooms -- adjacent to gardens. There Roman officials would sometimes continue discussions with visiting dignitaries while sitting on the latrines. Elongated rectangular platforms with several adjacent seats were utilized (some with privacy partitions, but most without). These latrine rooms were often co-ed, as were the baths. As noted earlier, water from the public baths, or brush water from the aqueduct system, flowed continuously in troughs beneath the latrine seats; the sewage (along with waste bath water) was delivered to the sewers beneath the city, and eventually to the Tiber River.
  • In Rome, water was distributed with lead pipes. To make pipe, sheets of lead were cut in ten-foot-wide strips and bent around a wood mandrel and joined by solder.
  • The 11' x 12' Cloaca Maxima ("Main Drain" -- finished in 510 BCE, and made of hewn stone, no cement) drained to the Tiber River. Its original purpose was to drain a marsh ... upon which a large portion of Rome was eventually built. The sewer has remained in service for over 2400 years.
  • Sewer infrastructure throughout the city was essentially completed by 100 CE; some direct connections of individual homes began to appear. Terra-cotta pipe was utilized. If a pipe had to withstand pressure, it was often fully embedded (i.e., sealed) in concrete -- a practice the Romans started.
  • Sewer odors were a problem, since there were very few vents from the sewers. Any connections to public baths, or to the few houses that were connected, served as vents in the early years -- making life interesting (odor-wise) in those facilities.
  • The initial purpose of the early sewers was to accommodate storm water runoff (and in at least one case, to drain a marsh); later, sanitary sewage began to be slowly added to the flow.
  • Dejecti: Effusive Act: Damages to be paid by the throwers of wastes into the street -- if the person hit was injured (no damages paid for clothing), and only if the incident happened in daytime hours.
  • Roman courtesy also extended to visitors, and to people with emergencies:
  • Huge vases were provided for use at the edges of towns at entrance roads and at exit roads (i.e., early port-a-potties.)
  • Vendors worked the streets of Rome and other cities providing access to pottery jars (and "modesty capes") -- for a price.
The result was fewer wastes on the streets of Roman cities; still, the majority of human wastes (of the masses) ended up in the streets.

The Roman Empire fell in early CE along with the concepts of baths, basic sanitation, aqueducts, engineered water or sewage systems, etc.

With the fall of the Roman Empire Europe was cast into what French historian Jules Michele called “a thousand years without a bath,” also known as The Dark Ages. Between the inability of the northern invaders to admnister the previous empire and the Muslim destruction of civilization and blockade of most of Europe from trade on the Mediterranean, Europe slid into autocracy, the manorial system of production in which locals starved to death within site of their unhelpful neighbours in a much romanticised commune system. The population of Europe plummeted, and any concern about hygiene in a time of frequent famine was secondary at best. With the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and the growth of Western European economies again reaching the level of the Roman Imperial age, the population of Europe rose as well, and with it the rapid development of cities, necessitating, though delayed, resisted, and dismissed as useless, the installation of sewage systems. But cities were a literal death trap, and workers were needed to keep up industrial production in them. To an extent, london's lowest classes were the sanitation system in the first half of the 19th century, scavenging and sorting debris and filth and keeping it from the guts of at least some city residents.

All of these occupations were considered to be of low social class.
  • Toshers, also sometimes called grubbers, scavenged through the sewers looking for anything of value. They helped to ease the flow in the sewer systems by removing small items. Often whole families worked as toshers. This gave them some immunity to sewage-related diseases that killed many.
  • Mudlarks scavenged in the mud of the Thames and other rivers. They were generally young children who retrieved small items and sold them for very small amounts.
  • Nightsoil men removed human, animal, and household waste from London to farms outside the city for use as manure. However, as London expanded, there were fewer farms and they were further from the city. A farmer would have to pay an average of 2s 6d (12½p) for the manure. The trade ceased almost completely in 1870 when guano (deposits of bird droppings) from South America became available more cheaply. This caused an increase of households dumping waste into the street where it made its way to the Thames through the sewers and rivers.
  • Flushermen were employed by the Court of Sewers. These men would literally "flush" away waste and anything that might block the flow of water in the new sewer system.

C.f. Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, Four Vols. 1851 - 1861. [Three volumes 1851; Vol Four co-written with Bracebridge Hemyng, John Binny and Andrew Halliday, 1861].
But the scavenging poor were not enough. People we dying in large numbers.
Unlike today when every minor ache and pain seems to have a remedy available at the local pharmacy, previously one endured or died without painkillers. Dr. John Snow was the first to use ether during operations, treating patients without inflicting so much pain they died from that alone. He did even more.

When cholera spread through early 19th century London, most residents thought the deadly disease was spread by some sort of mysterious airborne organism. Severe outbreaks killed tens of thousands of people four times between 1831 and 1854 in several industrial English towns and the worst London outbreak in 1853 killed more than 10,000 people alone. Anesthesiologist John Snow was able to map the Soho outbreak and the relation between cholera deaths and pumps located near sewage in the Thames River [source: Summers]. He was able to convince local citizens, authorities and fellow physicians that the disease was not an airborne one, but related to the sewage-tainted water.

Snow was able to convince people living near the water source of cholera at Soho to stop drinking the population that was killing so many, and he did so by padlocking the pump. Reason prevailed later. When it did it had some great help from parliamentarians so sick from the stench of the Thames river outside the House of Parliament that they could not endure it longer, and they began the long and expensive project of cleaning up London by installing a sewerage system, the leader of that project being Joseph Bazelgette. Bazelgette was called in to deal with The Big Stink. Miasma, or bad air, was assumed to be the cause of cholera, and to eliminate the bad air the idea was to remove what caused it, i.e. sewage. The germs involved were not counted for. Still the sewerage system was built.

Imagine the smell that three million Londoners could make if their toilets poured into overflowing cesspools or drains in the street, or if they emptied chamberpots out of their windows. It’s unthinkable now, but that was reality in 1855.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Victorians knew this wasn’t healthy, but not why. When Queen Victoria came to the throne, only half of London’s infants lived to their fifth birthday. Diseases such as cholera were rife in the capital.

The first recorded case of cholera in England was in Newcastle in 1831, and there were major outbreaks in 1849 and 1854. But there was no cure and no treatment.

Since Roman times, it had been thought that diseases like malaria – and, by extension, cholera – were spread in the air by ‘miasmas’ or terrible smells. This was why the Romans had built sewers – to get rid of the smells, not the sewage.

The Big Stink was so big, so stinking, that one hundred years later the expression was common in the United States, my grandfather often scoffing at some minor kerfuffle with the line, “What's the big stink?” Mention of cholera, on the other hand, made his face turn pale from painful memories.

The 1854 discovery by Filippo Pacini of Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that caused the disease, was ignored until it was rediscovered thirty years later by Robert Koch. In 1854 London physician Dr John Snow discovered that the disease was transmitted by drinking water contaminated by sewage after an epidemic centred in Soho, but this idea was not widely accepted. Consolidating several separate local bodies concerned with sewers, the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers was established in 1848; it surveyed London's antiquated sewerage system and began ridding the capital of its cesspits—an objective later accelerated by the "Great Stink".

The experts of the London medical establishment of the time were committed to a useless idea they mostly refused to let go of: miasma, or disease caused by “bad air.” Yesteryear's experts were no stupider than ours today. Two men, however, John Snow and a local minister, Reverend Henry Whitehead, fought the establishment and eventually won, closing the Soho pump that was spreading cholera in the city.

Having attended many patients during the 1849 outbreak without contracting cholera himself, he [Dr John Snow] realised that it could not be transmitted through the air. Then, the pattern of an outbreak in 1854 in Soho allowed him to track the source to a popular water pump in Broad Street (now Broadwick Street). Particularly telling was the fact that none of the 70 workers in the local brewery died, as they only drank beer.

Although Snow was [not immediately] unaware of it, a sewer was leaking into the Broad Street well. Sadly, such cross contamination between the sewage system and water supplies was typical.

Snow did figure out the problem of contaminated water from the well, and thus saved countless lives and created the first demand for a proper sewerage system in London.

Only when the problem was literally forced up the noses of MPs at their new Houses of Parliament during the ‘Great Stink’ in the summer of 1858 did something get done about it. Parliament gave £3 million to the Metropolitan Board of Works to sort out the problem. The task was taken on by chief engineer Joseph Bazalgette, who designed and constructed five major brick-lined sewers measuring 132 km (82 miles); three north of the river and two to the south. These connected with existing sewers and pumping stations were built at strategic locations to keep the sewage flowing.

In the Middle Ages, cities in Western Europe were mostly centres for military and religious quarters, a few guilds allowed inside the city gates for supply, the rest of the population relegated to the outside and to semi-self-sufficient farming manors. City populations rarely exceeded a few thousand people, and sewage, regardless of how we would see it today, was not a considerable problem for those residents. But with the rise on industrial production and the need for floating populations of workers at hand, cities grew to previously unimaginable sizes, bringing with them their physical needs as well as their labour. Sewage and overcrowding brought disease on a massive scale.

In earlier times Londoners got their water from wells or the river. There were few people and the sewage, though a problem, was not devastating,

Until the late 16th century, London citizens were reliant for their water supplies on water from shallow wells, the River Thames, its tributaries, or one of around a dozen natural springs, including the spring at Tyburn which was connected by lead pipe to a large cistern or tank (then known as a conduit): the Great Conduit in Cheapside. ...
Wealthy Londoners living near to a conduit pipe could obtain permission for a connection to their homes, but this did not prevent unauthorised tapping of conduits. Otherwise - particularly for households which could not take a gravity-feed, water from the conduits was provided to individual households by water carriers, or "cobs". ...
In 1582 Dutchman Peter Morice leased the northernmost arch of London Bridge and, inside the arch, constructed a waterwheel that pumped water from the Thames to various places in London. Further waterwheels were added in 1584 and 1701, and remained in use until 1822.

Recycling might be some good idea in some cases, but it turns bad when one recycles sewage into household use. Many residents of the Belen area of Iquitos, Peru face a problem similar to that of London in the 19th century. Disposing properly of household waste is expensive and impractical for those living on floating houses or houses built on stilts on the riverbank. Sewage goes, and sewage comes back again.

[I]n 1815 house waste was permitted to be carried to the Thames via the sewers, so for seven years human waste was dumped into the Thames and then potentially pumped back to the same households for drinking, cooking and bathing. Prior to the Great Stink there were over 200,000 cesspits in London. Emptying one cesspit cost a shilling - a cost the average London citizen then could ill afford. As a result, most cesspits added to the airborne stench.

In the Belen area many building lack basic plumbing, and thus during the six month low water season, the sewage is not swept away by the Amazon river. Belen in effect becomes one large cesspit. At least there are very few toilets to add to the mess.

Part of the [London] problem was due to the introduction of flush toilets, replacing the chamber-pots that most Londoners had used. These dramatically increased the volume of water and waste that was now poured into existing cesspits. These often overflowed into street drains designed originally to cope with rainwater, but now also used to carry outfalls from factories, slaughterhouses and other activities, contaminating the city before emptying into the River Thames.

The summer of 1858 was unusually hot. The Thames and many of its urban tributaries were overflowing with sewage; the warm weather encouraged bacteria to thrive and the resulting smell was so overwhelming that it affected the work of the House of Commons (countermeasures included draping curtains soaked in chloride of lime, while members considered relocating upstream to Hampton Court) and the law courts (plans were made to evacuate to Oxford and St Albans). Heavy rain finally ended the heat and humidity of summer and the immediate crisis ended. However, a House of Commons select committee was appointed to report on the Stink and recommend how to end the problem.

Consolidating several separate local bodies concerned with sewers, the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers was established in 1848; it surveyed London's antiquated sewerage system and began ridding the capital of its cesspits—an objective later accelerated by the "Great Stink".
[I]in 1855 the Metropolitan Board of Works which, after rejecting many schemes for "merciful abatement of the epidemic that ravaged the Metropolis", accepted a scheme to implement sewers proposed in 1859 by its chief engineer, Joseph Bazalgette. The intention of this very expensive scheme was to resolve the epidemic of cholera by eliminating the stench which was believed to cause it. Over the next six years the main elements of the London sewerage system were created. As an unintended consequence the water supply ceased to be contaminated; this resolved the cholera epidemic.

Iquitos has a sewerage system, now antiquated and in the process of up-grading. The original and the current projects are thanks to men like John Snow and Joseph Bazalgette. 

John Snow (15 March 1813 – 16 June 1858)

Snow was a sceptic of the then-dominant miasma theory that stated that diseases such as cholera or the Black Death were caused by pollution or a noxious form of "bad air". The germ theory of disease had not yet been developed, so Snow did not understand the mechanism by which the disease was transmitted. His observation of the evidence led him to discount the theory of foul air. He first publicized his theory in an essay On the Mode of Communication of Cholera in 1849. ... In 1855 he published a second edition of his article, documenting his more elaborate investigation of the effect of the water supply in the Soho, London epidemic of 1854.
By talking to local residents (with the help of Reverend Henry Whitehead), he identified the source of the outbreak as the public water pump on Broad Street (now Broadwick Street). Although Snow's chemical and microscope examination of a water sample from the Broad Street pump did not conclusively prove its danger, his studies of the pattern of the disease were convincing enough to persuade the local council to disable the well pump by removing its handle. This action has been commonly credited as ending the outbreak, but Snow observed that the epidemic may have already been in rapid decline:

Snow later used a dot map to illustrate the cluster of cholera cases around the pump. He also used statistics to illustrate the connection between the quality of the water source and cholera cases. He showed that the Southwark and Vauxhall Waterworks Company was taking water from sewage-polluted sections of the Thames and delivering the water to homes, leading to an increased incidence of cholera. Snow's study was a major event in the history of public health and geography. It is regarded as the founding event of the science of epidemiology.

Later, researchers discovered that this public well had been dug only three feet from an old cesspit, which had begun to leak fecal bacteria. The nappies of a baby, who had contracted cholera from another source, had been washed into this cesspit. Its opening was originally under a nearby house, which had been rebuilt farther away after a fire. The city had widened the street and the cesspit was lost. It was common at the time to have a cesspit under most homes. Most families tried to have their raw sewage collected and dumped in the Thames to prevent their cesspit from filling faster than the sewage could decompose into the soil.

After the cholera epidemic had subsided, government officials replaced the Broad Street Pump Handle. They had responded only to the urgent threat posed to the population, and afterward they rejected Snow's theory. To accept his proposal would have meant indirectly accepting the oral-fecal method transmission of disease, which was too unpleasant for most of the public to contemplate.

Entrenched interests often impede progress and cause countless unnecessary deaths and immense suffering before the forces of reaction are swept away by a few brave men with the right idea. One such man is Joseph Bazalgette.

Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, CB (b. 1819 – d. 1891) was chief engineer of London's Metropolitan Board of Works. His major achievement was the creation (in response to the "Great Stink" of 1858) of a sewer network for central London which was instrumental in relieving the city from cholera epidemics, while beginning the cleansing of the River Thames.

[When] London's short-lived Metropolitan Commission of Sewers ordered that all cesspits should be closed and that house drains should connect to sewers and empty into the Thames, [the result was] a cholera epidemic (1848–49) that killed 14,137 Londoners.

Bazalgette was appointed assistant surveyor to the Commission in 1849, taking over as Engineer in 1852. [A]nother cholera epidemic struck in 1853, killing 10,738. Medical opinion at the time held that cholera was caused by foul air: a so-called miasma. Physician John Snow had earlier advanced a different explanation, which is now known to be correct: cholera was spread by contaminated water. His view was not generally accepted.

Championed by fellow engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Bazalgette was appointed chief engineer of the Commission's successor, the Metropolitan Board of Works, in 1856.... In 1858, the year of the Great Stink, Parliament passed an enabling act, in spite of the colossal expense of the project, and Bazalgette's proposals to revolutionise London's sewerage system began to be implemented. The expectation was that enclosed sewers would eliminate the stink ('miasma'), and that this would then reduce the incidence of cholera.

At the time, the Thames was little more than an open sewer.... Bazalgette's solution ... was to construct 82 miles (132 km) of underground brick main sewers to intercept sewage outflows, and 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of street sewers to intercept the raw sewage.... The outflows were diverted downstream where they were dumped, untreated, into the Thames. ...
The scheme involved major pumping stations at Deptford (1864) and at Crossness (1865) on the Erith marshes, both on the south side of the Thames, and at Abbey Mills (in the River Lea valley, 1868) and on the Chelsea Embankment (close to Grosvenor Bridge; 1875), north of the river.
The system was opened by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1865, although the whole project was not actually completed for another ten years.

Bazalgette's foresight may be seen in the diameter of the sewers. When planning the network he took the densest population, gave every person the most generous allowance of sewage production and came up with a diameter of pipe needed. He then said 'Well, we're only going to do this once and there's always the unforeseen' and doubled the diameter to be used. His foresight allowed for the unforeseen increase in population density with the introduction of the tower block; with the original, smaller pipe diameter the sewer would have overflowed in the 1960s, rather than coping until the present day as it has.

The unintended consequence of the new sewer system was to eliminate cholera not only in places that no longer stank, but wherever water supplies ceased to be contaminated by sewage. The basic premise of this expensive project, that miasma spread cholera infection, was wrong; however, instead of this causing the project to fail, the new sewers succeeded in virtually eliminating the disease by removing the contamination.

Bazalgette's capacity for hard work was remarkable; every connection to the sewerage system by the various Vestry Councils had to be checked and Bazalgette did this himself and the records contain thousands of linen tracings with handwritten comments in Indian ink on them "Approved JWB" "I do not like 6" used here and 9" should be used. JWB" and so on. It is perhaps not surprising that his health suffered as a result.

Below are some fun facts about sewers. Who knew!?

"Sewer - A pipe or conduit, generally closed, but normally not flowing full, for carrying sewage and other wastes."

"Sanitary Sewer - A sewer which carries sewage and excludes storm, surfaces and ground water."

"Flush Tank - A chamber in which water, or sewage, is accumulated and discharged at intervals for flushing a sewer."

"Lamp-hole - A small vertical pipe or shaft leading from the surface of the ground to a sewer, for admitting a light for purposes of inspection."

"Manhole - A shaft, or chamber, from the surface of the ground to a sewer, large enough to enable a person to have access for the purpose of inspections or cleaning."

"Manhole Head - The cast iron fixture surmounting a manhole. It is made up of two parts: A 'Frame' which rests on the masonry of the shaft, and a removable 'Cover.' Frames are either 'Fixed' or 'Adjusted' in height. Covers are 'Tight,' 'Ventilated,' or 'Anti rattling.' "

Manholes covers: covers started off as slabs of stone, maybe pieces of wood -- which they remained from 3500 BC through the 1750s-1850s CE. For the last 200+ years, iron works in the United States have made cast-iron manhole covers, some weighing as much as 300 lbs. each, some rectangular, some square, but for the most part, round. The oldest available foundry catalog for manhole covers dates back to 1860.
The phrase "manhole" -- even though some people today want to change it for gender-sensitivity reasons -- was first used to describe the access holes between the decks of old, all-male, sailing ships. The word "manhole" (initially) had nothing to do with sewers.

It wasn't until later that the term was used to describe the structure through which access to sewers (initially, to new "separate" sewers) for maintenance could be achieved. Perhaps the name was adopted because it was, in essence, a hole into which a person (man) would go to do maintenance, or it was adopted from one level (street level) to another level (the sewer beneath the street). We'll probably never know for sure.
In fact, some believe the word "sewer" is derived from the term "seaward" in Old English. Early sewers in the London area were open ditches which led to the Thames River, and from there on down to the sea ("seaward").
As you can see, not a whole lot has changed in the years between the 1870s and now relative to the philosophy of manhole design, definitions, etc.; mainly materials and installation techniques have changed. The early designers had an amazingly good sense of what was needed.
Sewer pipe: In the very early years of sewers in the United States, hollowed-out logs were utilized to convey sewage from a single dwelling to the nearest stream or, sometimes, as a part of a larger conveyance "system" for a small town. Some larger "combined" systems utilized brick, sometimes cut stone, slate, or even wood (mostly, for the inverts); many combinations of materials were utilized depending on the types of materials available locally. The size/shapes of the sewers varied in almost direct proportion to the number of designers involved.

Sometime in the 1820s in Europe, the concept of building oval-shaped sewers evolved [See John Roe, named after fish eggs, conceivably the inspiration for his egg-saped sewer pipe,] (as opposed to the previous flat-bottom, rectangular cross-sectional sewers), supposedly to help diminish the possibility of the sedimentation of solids/sand via the provision of higher (scour) velocities at low flows.

As the industry improved, and it was realized that fewer joints (especially if they weren't always well sealed) were better, the industry responded with 3' laying lengths of pipe.

Cast-iron pipe began to become available in the mid-1700s for municipal water service. The first large-scale use of cast-iron pipe for distribution of water occurred in 1664 at Versaille, France. A 15-mile cast-iron main was installed from Marley-on-Seina to the palace at Versailles; the system is still in service today. The bell-and-spigot joint was developed by Sir Thomas Simpson in 1785 (London) for cast-iron pipe and has been in use ever since. The early versions used "butt" joints sealed with metal bands.

And the sewerage fun will continue as soon as Senor Marvin Rios of Iquitos gets off his arse and decides to continue our interview about the state of the sewer up-grade project in the city. He has much to offer, though he has recently been somewhat constipated when it comes to letting it all out for the interested public.

When Sr. Rios stops pissing on my shoes we'll have more on this story from Iquitos, Peru.

For those whose appetite for all things sewer and toilet is only whetted, please turn to the following links for more, far more, about this fascinating if weird topic.

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