Being able to draw a glass of drinking water from a tap in the house is something that most of us will take for granted. It’s a simple process, its easy and doesn’t need a great deal of effort; just a clean receptacle to put the water in and away you go.
Its not always been that simple though and in many countries, to get access to clean drinking water takes a little more effort and certainly a bit of planning. This is not limited to what we think of third world countries either. Think about when you go on holiday, even to Europe, and are advised not to drink the water that comes from the tap. We are encouraged to buy bottled water in order to ensure that we don’t become ill whilst we are away. Most people will heed this advice, not wanting to spoil what will most likely be something that has been looked forward to for some time.
Even in the UK, as recently as the 19th century, the general public did not have access to a personal supply of clean water. At the very most there would be a standpipe in a local street where water would need to be collected and carried home for the daily needs of the family.
Things all came to a head in the mid 1800’s when the population of London suffered from numerous cholera outbreaks that claimed many lives. The problem being that there was no sewage system; most of the City’s human excrement was ending up in the Thames – the very place where the City’s drinking water was coming from. It wasn’t until the construction of a proper sewage system (most of which is still in use today) and the filtration of drinking water that things began to improve