Civil Engineering

Class notes

Environmental Engineering (Part I)

Environmental Engineering (Part I)

During the evolution of the world, the water, air, and land resources available to our forefathers were immeasurably vast. So vast, in fact, that they appeared to be of infinite proportions, and their use and consumption were taken for granted. However, as the population grew, it became clear that these resources, particularly a clean and abundant water supply, were not infinite and, in some cases, not even available. A case in point is the water supply problem that confronted New York almost from its inception. A visitor to New York in 1748 declared, “There is no good water to be met within the town itself”. In 1774, the city authorized a water system, but it was not until 1841, when the Croton Aqueduct was completed, that New Yorkers could experience cool, clean water for drinking, bath, and fire fighting. They could even dream about the luxury of indoor plumbing. Four years prior to 1841, a son was born to a humble British family in the Yorkshire town of Thorne, who was to make a major contribution regarding the handling of human waste products. The child’s name was Thomas Crapper.. Crapper was an entrepreneurial sanitary engineer and the inventor of many improvements to indoor flush toilets.

By 1840, there were only 83 public water supplies in the U.S., but the demand was growing, and by 1870, there were 243. With these burgeoning public water supplies came the need to consider the disposal of the “used” water. In Europe during the Middle Ages, people simply threw their excreta out the window. Word has it that some sport was involved in this process involving the passersby in the street below.


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