Timeline of water supply

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This is a timeline of water supply, focusing on the provision and treatment of water for non–agricultural human consumption. Improved water source is prioritized. Irrigation and water treatment are described in the Timeline of irrigation and Timeline of water treatment.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
Prehistory Hunter-gatherers use rivers for drinking and bathing. Permanent settlements are usually established near a river or lake. When there are no rivers or lakes in an area, people use groundwater for drinking.[1] During the Neolithic, humans dig the first permanent water wells, from where vessels can be filled and carried by hand.
Ancient times "in the Roman era a water wheel device known as a noria supplied water to aqueducts and other water distribution systems in major cities in Europe and the Middle East"
Middle ages water-bearers carry water to the cities.[1]
Industrial revolution Mechanical pumped supplies become available with the advent of the steam driven Newcomen engine in 1700.[2]
19th century Great Britain would be seen as the forerunner of modern water supply and sanitation systems. However, innovations would soon spread to Germany, other parts of Europe, USA and later also elsewhere.[3]
20th century Desalination appears late in the century, and is still limited to a few areas.
Recent years Worldwide, about 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean and safe drinking water. Every year, 5 million people die of waterborne diseases.[4]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Present time country/location
8500 BC – 7000 BC Storage Some of the world's oldest known wells, located in Cyprus, date from this period.[5] Cyprus
6500 BC Storage Wells dug around this time are found in the Jezreel Valley.[6] Israel
2090 BC Storage Wood-lined wells are known from the early Neolithic Linear Pottery culture, for example in Kückhoven, Germany.[7] Germany
5000 BC Storage Jericho stores water in water wells that are used as sources.[1]
3200 BC – 1100 BC Piping The Minoan civilization in Crete is the first to use underground clay pipes for sanitation and water supply. Knossos, the capital, has a well–organized water system for bringing in clean water.[8] Greece
3000 BC System The city of Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan uses a very extensive water supply. The city boasts public bathing facilities with water boiler installations and bathrooms.[1] Pakistan
700 BC – 681 BC Canal Assyrian king Sennacherib builds a 80km stone-lined canal 20 metres wide to bring fresh water from Bavian to Nineveh, including a stone aqueduct 330 metres long.[9] Iraq, Iran
700 BC–400 AD Aqueduct The Romans build a system of aqueducts providing inhabitants with fresh running water, which is piped directly to homes of the wealthy, and to public fountains and baths. This system greatly improves domestic sanitation and adequate disposal of sewage.[10] Italy
100 BC – 800 AD System Nazca people in ancient Peru employ a system of interconnected wells and an underground watercourse known as puquios.[11] Peru
40 – 60 AD? Aqueduct Ancient Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard is finished.[12] France
52 AD System Rome has 220 miles of aqueducts, which bring in fresh water to the city, and is used for public bathing, fountains, and latrines. The waste water is then removed by the city’s sewage system, some of which, like the Cloaca Maxima, is still in use today.[13] Italy
100 AD Publication Roman senator Frontinus writes a handbook on the Roman aqueduct system.[12][14] Italy
200 AD – 400 AD Storage The first rock-cut stepwells are built in India.[15] India
532 AD Storage The Basilica Cistern is built in Istanbul to store fresh water for the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I's palace and nearby buildings.[16][2] Turkey
550 AD – 625 AD Storage The stepwells at Dhank in Rajkot district in India are built.[15] India
1500 System In Hama, Syria, there are a series of water driven wheels of various diameters, that lifts the river water to an aqueduct at a higher level for drinking and irrigation purposes.[2] Syria
1579 Technology Dutchman Peter Maurice acquires a 500 year lease to construct a water wheel under the first arch of London Bridge on the River Thames, supplying water to individual local houses through lead pipes.[2] United Kingdom
1723 Technology Chelsea Waterworks Company becomes one of the first water companies to use steam driven Newcomen engine.[2] United Kingdom
1775 Piping Scottish watchmaker Alexander Cummings invents the S-bend pipe.[17] United Kingdom
1802 Canal Napoleon Bonaparte builds the Ourcq canal which would bring 70,000 cubic meters of water a day to Paris.[17][18] France
1804 System The first drinking water supply covering an entire city is built in Paisley, Scotland by Scottish civil engineer John Gibb, in order to supply his bleachery and the entire city with water.[1][14] United Kingdom
1807 Transportation Filtered water is transported to Glasgow.[1] United Kingdom
1845 Technology The first screw-down water tap is patented by Guest and Chrimes, a brass foundry in Rotherham, England.[17] United Kingdom
1913 Aqueduct The first Los Angeles Aqueduct is completed, bringing water 238 miles from the Owens Valley of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Los Angeles basin.[19] United States
1930 Engineering American structural engineer Hardy Cross develops a method for the analysis and design of water flow in simple pipe distribution systems, ensuring consistent water pressure. Cross would employ the same principles for the water system problem that he devised for the Hardy Cross method of structural analysis, a technique that enables engineers—without benefit of computers—to make the thousands of mathematical calculations necessary to distribute loads and moments in building complex structures such as multi-bent highway bridges and multistory buildings.[19] United States
1936 Facility The Hoover Dam opens, aimed at providing water for irrigation and municipal water supplies for Nevada, Arizona, and California, in addition to electricity generation.[19] United States
1955 Piping Ductile cast-iron pipe becomes the industry standard, being used in water distribution systems. It becomes the industry standard for metal due to its superior strength, durability, and reliability over cast iron. The pipe is used to transport potable water, sewage, and fuel, and is also used in fire-fighting systems.[19]
1970s Facility The Aswan High Dam construction is completed. It impounds the waters of the Nile to form Lake Nasser, the world’s third-largest reservoir, with a capacity of 5.97 trillion cubic feet. The dam would supply water for municipalities and irrigation.[19] Egypt
1977 Organization The UN Conference on Water is held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, with the goals of assessing the status of wa ter resources; ensuring that an adequate supply of quality water is available to meet the planet’s socio-economic needs; increasing water use efficiency; and promoting preparedness, nationally and internationally, so as to avoid a water crisis of global dimensions be fore the end of twentieth century. The conference would approve the so called Mar del Plata Action Plan, which would become the first internationally coordinated approach to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The Mar del Plata conference would be considered a success, in part due to the active participation of the developing world and the discussions on various aspects of water management.[20] Argentina
1990 Publication The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) starts producing regular estimates of national, regional and global progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).[21]
1990 Statistics The proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source stands at 76%.[22]
1992 Organization The International Conference on Water and the Environment (ICWE) is organized in Dublin. The formulated Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development recognizes the increasing scarcity of water as a result of the different conflicting uses and overuses of wat. Ireland
1996 Organization The Global Water Partnership is founded with the support of the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.[23][24]
1998 Policy The European Union accepts the Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC guideline, a framework of quality demands for drinking water. The guidelines include parameters that must be checked to determine quality. The countries of the European Union can add their own demands to this guideline.[25]
2000 The Second World Water Forum in The Hague concludes that women are the primary users of domestic water, that women use water in their key food production roles, and that women and children are the most vulnerable to water-related disasters.[26] Netherlands
2000 Statistics Worldwide, 3.5 billion people use piped water supply.[21]
2003 Program launch The United Nations Interagency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) establishes the Gender and Water Task Force. The Task Force would since become a UN-Water Task Force and take responsibility for the gender component of International Water for Life Decade (2005-1015).[27]
2006 Statistics According to a World Bank study, average water tariffs in Latin America are the highest of any region of the developing world. Tariffs are about four times higher than in South Asia, three times higher than in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and almost twice as high as in East Asia. However, tariffs are less than half as high as in OECD countries. Based on a sample of 23 major cities in Latin America the average residential water tariff for a monthly consumption of 15 cubic meter was US$0.41, equivalent to a monthly bill of only about US$6.[28]
2010 (28 July) Policy The Human Right to Water and Sanitation is recognized as a human right by the United Nations General Assembly.[29]
2010 Statistics About 87% of the global population (5.9 billion people) has access to piped water supply through house connections or to an improved water source through other means than house, including standpipes, water kiosks, spring supplies and protected wells. However, about 13% (about 900 million people) do not have access to an improved water source and has to use unprotected wells or springs, canals, lakes or rivers for their water needs.[30]
2015 Statistics The proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source stands at 91% (up from 76% in 1990).[22] 71 per cent of the global population (5.2 billion people) use a safely managed drinking water service; that is, one located on premises, available when needed and free from contamination.[21] Also, the worldwide population using piped water supply reaches 4.7 billion (up from 3.5 billion in 2000).[21]

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.

Funding information for this timeline is available.

What the timeline is still missing

Timeline update strategy

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "History of drinking water treatment". lenntech.com. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "10 General Water Supply History". essexwatersupply.com. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  3. "A Brief History of Water and Health from Ancient Civilizations to Modern Times". iwapublishing.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  4. "Waterborne diseases". lenntech.com. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  5. "Stone Age wells found in Cyprus". BBC News. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  6. Ashkenazi, Eli (Nov 9, 2012). "Ancient well reveals secrets of first Jezreel Valley farmers". haaretz.com. Haaretz. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  7. Tegel W, Elburg R, Hakelberg D, Stäuble H, Büntgen U (2012). "Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture". PLoS ONE. 7 (12): e51374. PMC 3526582Freely accessible. PMID 23284685. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051374. 
  8. Burke, Joseph. FLUORIDATED WATER CONTROVERSY. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  9. "Canals and inland waterways". britannica.com. Retrieved 29 September 2017. 
  10. "SNAPSHOTS OF PUBLIC SANITATION". hygieneforhealth.org.au. Retrieved 3 August 2017. 
  11. "Puzzle of the Nazca holes is solved: Ancient spirals in the Peruvian desert were used as a 'sophisticated' irrigation system". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Watering Ancient Rome". pbs.org. Retrieved 7 August 2017. 
  13. "History of Plumbing Systems". homeadvisor.com. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Verma, Subhash; et al. Water Supply Engineering. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Livingston & Beach, page xxiii
  16. "Inside the Ancient Underground Cisterns of Istanbul". slate.com. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Burke, Joseph. The Fluoridated Water Controversy: Unbiased Reference Source & What You Need to Know. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  18. Infrastructure Finance in Europe: Insights Into the History of Water, Transport, and Telecommunications (Youssef Cassis, Giuseppe De Luca, Massimo Florio ed.). Retrieved 22 September 2017. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 "Water Supply and Distribution Timeline". greatachievements.org. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  20. "United Nations Conference on Water (Mar del Plata 1977)" (PDF). who.int. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 "Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2017" (PDF). who.int. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all". un.org. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  23. Reinicke, Wolfgang H. (1999) "The Other World Wide Web: Global Public Policy Networks" Foreign Policy No. 117 pp. 44-57, page 53
  24. "Environment - Water Partnerships". Web.worldbank.org. 2010-05-17. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  25. "Water disinfection application standards (for EU)". lenntech.com. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 
  26. "Women and Water", UN Division for the Advancement of Women, 2005.
  27. UN Water Activities
  28. Foster, Halpern and Komides, 2005, p. 21, drawing on data from the Latin American water regulator association ADERASA
  29. "Resolution 64/292: The human right to water and sanitation". United Nations. August 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2017. 
  30. WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring report 2010. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/fast_facts/en/