effluent of cities

Every day each one of us turns 100 gallons or so of water into sewage. That’s a lot of sewage, requiring a lot of treatment–and very little of it is poop.

“We’re like a nation of 1-year-olds throwing everything in the toilet.”

Scientific American offers a relaxed ten page synopsis on sewers, How Does Sewage Treatment Work?

Deuteronomy urges you to dig a hole and ‘cover that which cometh from thee’.

By 1500 BC the palace of Knossos had an actual flush toilet–a seat, a pan, and a slave to pour water into a sluice.

Cesspits and privies were so offensive, in 1844 Boston┬átried to pass a law requiring a doctor’s order for every bath.

Most blockages are caused by grease or roots, but memorable clogs are mops, golf clubs or firewood pulled out of manholes. A refrigerator. Once a carpet remnant…

The system is not flawless–biosolids sometimes contaminate water; grease clogs cause sewage spills or system failures; heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products build up in biosolids–but overall it works splendidly.

“It gets in your blood,” said a senior engineer and inspector… the rest of the way gravity does the work.