Civil Engineering

Class notes

Environmental Engineering (Part II)

Environmental Engineering (Part II)

Recognition at about this time that water supplies, disease, and disposal of human waste were interconnected led to the requirement that used water and excrement be discharged to sewers. In 1850, a member of the Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts, Lemuel Shattuck, reported the relationship between water supply, sewers, and health. He recommended the formation of a State Board of Health, which would include a civil engineer, a chemist or physicist, two physicians, and two others. During this time, a French chemist by the name of Louis Pasteur was initiating research that was to found the field of bacteriology and connect bacteria with disease. In addition, Pasteur was to demonstrate the benefits of utilizing bacteria in industrial processes. The use of bacteria to stabilize municipal waste was coming to the fore.

In 1887, the Massachusetts State Board of Health established an experiment station at Lawrence for investigating water treatment and water pollution control. This station was similar to others that had been established in England and Germany and was the forerunner of eight others established throughout the U.S. Topics investigated were primary wastewater treatment, secondary treatment via trickling filters, and activated sludge.

As the population of the U.S. and the world continues to grow, greater demand is being placed on our natural resources. What were once adequate treatment and disposal methods now require far greater levels of cleanup before waste is discharged to water courses, the atmosphere, or onto the land. In essence, water, air, and land are no longer free economic goods, as has been assumed for so many years. The cost of using water, air, and land resources is the cleanup cost prior to their return to the environment.


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