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How Plumbing Once Saved The World

When you think about superheroes you don’t often picture the plumber – if ever. But you should. Plumbers and plumbing systems have saved the world time and time again. Life as we know it wouldn’t exist without the inventions of sewer systems, running water, indoor toilets, and more. In fact, there are over 25 debilitating and deadly diseases that are the result of poor sanitation and contaminated water: cholera, typhoid, amoebic dysentery, campylobacter enteritis, giardia, Guinea worm, schistosomiasis, bacillary dysentery (shigellosis), Escherichia Coli diarrhea, and the list continues. If you’re still not convinced, read on.

Plumbing Saved London From Cholera Circa 1800’s

In 1854 a sudden outbreak of Cholera hit the people of Soho, a suburb of London killing over 500 men, women, and children in 10 days, 50,000 people all told.

In the 1800’s London, like most of the world at that time, had little in the way of plumbing infrastructure. Communal wells were the source of drinking water and waste was disposed of either in “cesspools” or dumped into the Thames River (also a source of drinking water). In 1854 a sudden outbreak of Cholera hit the people of Soho, a suburb of London killing over 500 men, women, and children in 10 days, 50,000 people all told.

The Department of Epidemiology at UCLA has this to say about Dr. John Snow, now considered the father of epidemiology,

In August of 1849, during the second year of the epidemic, Snow felt obliged to share what he considered convincing evidence that cholera was being spread through contaminated water. At his own expense, he published a pamphlet entitled On the Mode of Communication of Cholera. Thirty-nine pages in length, the essay contained both a reasoned argument and documentary evidence to support his theory. As one example he cited the case of two rows of houses in a London neighborhood that faced each other. In one row many residents became cholera victims, while in the other row only one person was afflicted. It was discovered, Snow wrote, that in the former bowl, the slops of dirty water, poured down by the inhabitants into a channel in front of the houses, got into the well from which they obtained their water. Snow realized that such conditions existed in many neighborhoods and that if cholera epidemics were ever going to be eliminated, wells and water pipes would have to be kept isolated from drains, cesspools, and sewers.

Rwanda Refugee Camps, 1994

In 1993 and 1994, civil wars devastated Burundi and Rwanda and led to the displacement of millions of people. In April 1994, approximately 500,000 refugees from Rwanda crossed the border into Tanzania while approximately one million people crossed into neighboring Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC).

Those that landed in Tanzania were met with drinking and potable water, non-perishable food, latrines and transportation systems provided by fifteen non-governmental organizations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The country of Zaire, however, was unprepared for the large influx of refugees and were unable to supply proper water and sanitation resources. Human waste built up in the same areas where the refugees drew water that was used for cooking and drinking. Heavy rain flooded the area and dysentery became an epidemic.

As a result, thousands upon thousands of refugees died after having made the long trek to safety. “Using explosives, French troops blasted six mass graves in hard volcanic rock to bury thousands of bodies that piled up along the roadsides and in the squalid refugee encampments”, reports NYTimes. Without clean water, the refugees had to scoop polluted water from Lake Kivu, leading to the epidemic. It wasn’t until the U.S. sent aircraft carriers filled with water purified water plants and latrines to the area that the refugees saw relief in the death toll.

The Power Of Plumbing

These are only two of numerous incidents where plumbing saved people’s lives. We often underestimate the power of plumbing, thinking only of our toilets or some guy missing a belt for his jeans, but if we stopped to think of our world without sewer drainage, filtered water, indoor plumbing and the like, we’d not only be grossed out, but many of us would be deathly ill.

If you’re sick and tired of plumbing problems, call our office today. We understand the seriousness of clean water and proper sewer drainage. We want the best for you family and ours, so you can count on quality service and a friendly smile. Let our team at Deer Valley Plumbing help you today.

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