Timeline of sanitation
This is a timeline of sanitation, attempting to describe events covering sewage systems as well as sanitation facilities such as sewage and toilets. Toilet paper is described in the timeline of hygiene. Historical events related to the timeline can be found in the timeline of hygiene, timeline of water supply, timeline of water treatment and timeline of pipeline transport.
|Time period||Development summary|
|Prehistoric times||Early sanitation systems are built in the prehistoric Middle East, in the south-east of actual Iran near Zabol.|
|Ancient times||The oldest Chinese civilization already has pipes and plumbing in the structures. Surface-based storm drainage systems are developed by the Babylonian and Mesopotamian Empires. The Minoans and Harappans in Crete and the Indus valley civilization, all have well organized and operated sewer and drainage systems. Hellenes and Romans are considered pioneers in developing basic sewerage and drainage technologies, with emphasis on sanitation in the urban environment.|
|Medieval times||Following a crisis in the maintenance of the sewers of the Roman cities occurring in the 3rd–4th centuries, very little progress is made during the Dark ages, circa 300 AD through to the middle of the 18th century. Small natural waterways in medieval European cities, used for carrying off wastewater, are eventually covered over and function as sewers. Pail closets, outhouses, and cesspits are used to collect human waste. However, most cities do not have a functioning sewer system before the Industrial era, relying instead on nearby rivers or occasional rain showers to wash away the sewage from the streets.|
|1600s–1700s||Rapid expansion of waterworks and pumping systems take place in Europe.|
|1800s||Sewer systems begin implementation in many European and US cities, initially discharging untreated sewage to waterways. When discharge of untreated sewerage become increasingly unacceptable, experimentation towards improved treatment methods would result in sewage farming, chemical precipitation, filtration, sedimentation, chemical treatment, and activated sludge treatment using aerobic microorganisms. Earth closets are popular during this time. Around 1850 onwards, modern sewerage is “reborn”, but many of the principles grasped by the ancients are still in use today. Indoor plumbing initiates in Europe and the United States. Late in the century, many cities start constructing extensive sewer systems to help control outbreaks of disease such as typhoid and cholera. Also, some cities begin to add chemical treatment and sedimentation systems to their sewers. Flush toilets come into widespread use late in the century as well.|
|1900s||Most cities in the Western world add more expensive systems for sewage treatment.|
|Recent years||Worldwide, about 2,4 billion people are estimated to lack sanitation, such as toilets or latrines. Every year, 5 million people die of waterborne diseases, including nearly 1,000 children dying every day due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoeal diseases. At least 1,8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated. More than 80% of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal.|
|4000 BC||Technology||The Babylonians introduce clay sewer pipes, with the earliest examples found in the Temple of Bel at Nippur and at Eshnunna, Babylonia.|
|4000 BC–2500 BC||Technology||Evidence of surface-based storm drainage systems in early Babylonian and Mesopotamian Empires in Iraq is found.||Iraq|
|3500 BC||Technology||The making of alloy begins.|
|3200 BC–2300 BC||System||In the early Minoan civilization, issues related to sanitary techniques are considered of great importance. Advanced wastewater and stormwater management are practiced. In several Minoan palaces, one of the most important elements is the provision and distribution of water and the removal of waste and stormwater by means of sophisticated hydraulic works. The sewage and drainage systems are mainly stone structures. Stone conduits forme drains which lead rainwater from the courts outside the palaces, to eliminate the risk of flooding.||Greece|
|3200 BC–2200 BC||System||Early drainage systems are built in Skara Brae, Scotland. Stone huts have drains with cubicles over them, probably used as toilets.||United Kingdom|
|3000 BC–2700 BC||System||The Indus Valley Civilization shows early evidence of public water supply and sanitation, having developed flushing toilets, along with a working sewer system, to deal with the issues of waste disposal and indoor sanitation.||India|
|2600 BC – 1100 BC||System||The ancient Greek civilization of Crete, known as the Minoan civilization, already uses underground clay pipes for sanitation and water supply.|
|2350 BC||System||The Indus city of Lothal provides all houses with their own private toilet which is connected to a covered sewer network constructed of brickwork held together with a gypsum-based mortar that empties either into the surrounding water bodies or alternatively into cesspits, the latter of which are regularly emptied and cleaned.||India|
|2100 BC||System||The Egyptian city if Herakopolis has a system of removal of wastes, organic and inorganic to locations outside the living and/or communal areas, usually to the rivers. Finer houses have bathrooms and toilet seats made of limestone.||Egypt|
|2100 BC||System||The cities on the island of Crete have trunk sewers connecting homes.||Greece|
|2000 BC||Publication||Descriptions of of foul water purification by boiling and filtering are written in Sanskrit.|
|1800 BC||Technology||The Minoans on Crete and Thera have some toilets flushing with water.||Greece|
|1200 BC||Technoloogy||Rich Egyptians use a container with sand for toilet, which is emptied by slaves.||Egypt|
|1200 BC||Material||New materials are introduced with the beginning of the Iron Age.|
|1200 BC–700 BC||System||Hattusa, the capital of the hittite Empire, has public waste disposal plumbing around this epoch.||Turkey|
|1046 – 256 BC||System||During the Zhou Dynasty in ancient China, sewers exist in various cities such as Linzi.||China|
|900 BC–100 AD||System||The Greeks on the sacred island of Delos have large-scale public plumbing in addition to private latrines flushed by running water in this period.||Greece|
|800 BC–100 BC||System||The Etruscan civilization has drainage channels on the sides of streets in its towns. The etruscan system is based both on the natural slope of the plateau and on an artificial modification. The Etruscan system is planned in order to avoid water runoff interacting with the two necropolis located between the urban area and the river Reno, where wastewater is usually discharged.||Italy|
|700 BC–400 AD||System||The Romans develop a very advanced technology for sanitation, including baths with flowing water, and underground sewers and drains. The drains of Rome are intended primarily to carry away runoff from storms and to flush streets. The Cloaca Maxima sewage system, combines three functions: wastewater removal, rainwater removal and swamp drainage. The waste water removed by the city’s sewage system, some of which, like the Cloaca Maxima, is still in use today. The Romans worship Cloacina, the goddess who presides over the Cloaca Maxima ("Greatest Drain"), the main trunk of the system of sewers in Rome.||Italy|
|206 BC–24 AD||Technology||Latrine use dates back to the Western Han Dynasty. A found toilet with running water, a stone seat and an armrest dates bak from this time.||China|
|200 BC – 100 BC||System||In China Yellow Emperor’s Treatise on Internal Medicine dictates that "it is more important to prevent illness than to cure the illness when it has arisen". Clean water is known to be important in disease prevention so wells are covered, devices are used to filter water and the Chhii Shih (“sanitary police”) removes all animal and human corpses from waterways and buries all bodies found on land.||China|
|46 BC – 400 AD||System||Roman settlements in the United Kingdom have complex sewer networks sometimes constructed out of hollowed–out elm logs, which are shaped so that they butt together with the down–stream pipe providing a socket for the upstream pipe.||United Kingdom|
|100 AD||Technology||Roman sewers collect rainwater and sewage. There are public lavatories. ||Italy|
|250 – 900 AD||Technology||The Classic Mayans at Palenque have underground aqueducts and flush toilets.||Mexico|
|315 AD||Statistics||There are 144 public latrines in Rome.||Italy|
|1100s||Technology||At Portchester Castle, stone chutes leading to the sea are built by monks. When the tide goes in and out it flushes away the sewage.||United Kingdom|
|1200||Technology||In medieval Europe, Toilets in castles consist usually in vertical shafts cut into the thickness of the walls with a stone seat on top.||Europe|
|1370||Facility||The first closed sewer constructed in Paris is designed by Hughes Aubird on Rue Montmartre, and is 300 meters long.||France|
|1388||Policy||The English Parliament bans dumping of waste in ditches and public waterways.||United Kingdom|
|1427||Policy||The first English public Act about sewerage issue is delivered.||United Kingdom|
|1530||Policy||Decree issued in Paris requires that each new house must be equipped with a cesspool. Wastewater disposal in Paris starts being regulated.||France|
|1531||Facility||Sewage farms (wastewater used for irrigation and fertilizing agricultural land) are operated in Bunzlau, Silesia.|
|1596||Technology||Sir John Harington invents a flush toilet for his godmother Queen Elizabeth I, that releases wastes into cesspools.||United Kingdom|
|1600s – 1700s||Japanese cities collect human waste for use as crop fertilizer. This practice minimizes human contact with waste. Sewage is not discharged to rivers so pollution of waterways is minimized.||Japan|
|1636||Statistics||Report mentions 24 sewers in Paris, of which only 6 are covered, and every of them is clogged or ruined.||France|
|1650||Facility||Sewage farms are operated in Edinburgh, Scotland.||United Kingdom|
|1676 (9 October)||Scientific development||Using the newly invented microscope, Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek reports the discovery of microorganisms. With the microscope, for the first time, small material particles that were suspended in the water can be seen, laying the groundwork for the future understanding of waterborne pathogens and waterborne diseases.||Netherlands|
|1721||Policy||New decree issued in Paris requires property owners to pay for the cleaning of the covered sewers beneath their buildings.||France|
|1775||Technology||Scottish inventor Alexander Cumming is granted a patent for a flushing lavatory.||United Kingdom|
|1778||Technology||English inventor Joseph Brahmah designs an improved flushing lavatory.||United Kingdom|
|1789||System||Paris has about 26 km of sewers, and reservoirs are used to flush away the wastes blocked in the sewers.||France|
|1833||Technology||The water closet is first patented in the United States.||United States|
|1840s||Technology||Indoor plumbing is introduced, mixing human waste with water and flushing it away, eliminating the need for cesspools.|
|1842||Publication||British social reformer Edwin Chadwick publishes his Report on an inquiry into the sanitary condition of the labouring population of Great Britain, in which he early notes scientifically that lack of sanitation leads to disease.||United Kingdom|
|1852||Facility||The first modern public lavatory, with flushing toilets, opens in London.||United Kingdom|
|1854||Scientific development||English physician Dr John Snow shows that cholera is spread by water.||United Kingdom|
|1855–1860||System||The first sewer systems in the United States are built in Chicago and Brooklyn.||United States|
|1860||Technology||Frenchman Jean Mouras is credited for the invention of the septic tank system, after having built a prototype fabricated from concrete with piping constructed of clay leading from Mouras home to the septic tank located in his yard. After several years of use, the system becomes successful. In 1881 Mouras would be granted a patent.||France|
|1868||Facility||Sewage farms are operated in Paris.||France|
|1868||Facility||Sewage farms are operated in Berlin.||Germany|
|1868||Facility||Sewage farms are operated in different parts of the United States.||United States|
|1870s–1920s||System||Victorian England implements the first–ever comprehensive urban system as a reaction to a series of cholera pandemics during this epoch.||United Kingdom|
|1877||Scientific development||Agricultural chemist Jean Jacques Theophile Schloesing proves that nitrification is a biological process in the soil by using chloroform vapors to inhibit the production of nitrate. This knowledge would have one of its greatest practical applications in the treatment of sewerage.|
|1879||Water treatment||William Soper uses chlorinated lime to treat the sewage produced by typhoid patients.|
|1883||Technology||The vacant/engaged bolt for public toilets is patented.|
|1883||Introduction||The septic tank is introduced in the United States.||United States|
|1884||Technology||The first pedestal toilet bowl is made.|
|1890||Facility||The first sewage treatment plant in the United States using chemical precipitation is built in Worcester, Massachusetts.:2||United States|
|1892||Technology||English stage magician John Nevil Maskelyne invents the coin operated lock for toilets.||United Kingdom|
|1894||Water treatment||German chemist Moritz Traube formally proposes the addition of chloride of lime (calcium hypochlorite) to water to render it "germ–free".|
|1897||Facility||A large sewage farm is established in Melbourne.||Australia|
|1906||Technology||German engineer Karl Imhoff develops the concept of what later would be named Imhoff tank.|
|1912||Technology||Scientists at the University of Manchester discover the sewage treatment process of activated sludge.||United Kingdom|
|1913–1916||Technology||In Birmingham, chemists experiment with the biosolids in sewage sludge by bubbling air through wastewater and then letting the mixture settle; once solids had settled out, the water is purified. By 1916, this activated sludge process is put into operation in Worcester, England.||United Kingdom|
|1914||Publication||Boston engineers Leonard Metcalf and Harrison P. Eddy publish American Sewerage Practice, Volume I: Design of Sewers, which declares that working for "the best interests of the public health" is the key professional obligation of sanitary engineers. The book would become a standard reference in the field of sanitation for decades.|
|1923||Facility||The world’s first large-scale activated sludge plant is built at Jones Island, on the shore of Lake Michigan.||United States|
|1925||Mahatma Gandhi declares that "Sanitation is more important than independence".|
|1981–1990||Program||The International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade is launched by the United Nations to bring attention and support for clean water and sanitation worldwide.|
|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).|
|1990–2015||Statistics||The proportion of the population practising open defecation in Ethiopia decreases from 92% in 1990 to 29% in 2015.||Ethiopia|
|2000||Statistics||1229 million people worldwide practice open defecation.|
|2001||Organization||The World Toilet Organization is founded as a global non-profit organization with the claimed commitment to improve toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide. Since its foundation with 15 members, the World Toilet Organization would grow to include 151 member organizations in 53 countries.|
|2007||Readers of the British Medical Journal vote sanitation as the most important medical milestone since 1840.||United Kingdom|
|2008||Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, declares that “sanitation is more important than independence”.||India|
|2010||Technology||A mobile robotic toilet is released. Meant for physically disabled people, the device approaches the person upon request. Once used, the toilet automatically rolls back to the station to clean itself. It includes a bidet and hair dryer function.|
|2010 (28 July)||Policy||The Human Right to Water and Sanitation is recognized as a human right by the United Nations General Assembly.|
|2013||The World Toilet Organization achieves a milestone in global sanitation movement when 122 countries co-sponsor a United Nations resolution tabled by the Singapore government to designate 19 November, World Toilet Day as an official United Nations Day. The same year, the World Toilet Organization is granted consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.|
|2011||Program||The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation starts the “reinvent the toilet challenge” campaign.|
|2008||Organization||Ecotact is launched as a Nairobi-based company that provides low-income communities with sanitation. For an affordable price, the business provides the public with an Ikotoilet and access to clean, safe and hygienic sanitation facilities—services. The Ikotoilet block also offers its surrounding to local businesses that provide services like hair cutting, shoe shining and money transfer.||Kenya|
|2012||Statistics||280,000 deaths worldwide are estimated to be caused by inadequate sanitation.|
|2015||Program||The Sustainable Development Goals are formulated, including targets on access to water supply and sanitation at a global level. Worldwide, 892 million people practice open defecation (down from 1229 million in 2000).|
|2015||Technology||OriFuji is introduced as an automatic toilet paper dispenser. The device automatically cuts the toilet papers and folds them into a neat triangle shape, making it easier for the next person to pull and roll out the paper.||Japan|
|2015||Statistics||About 32−36% of the global population is estimated to lack household-level access to safe water or hygienic toilets.|
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- Timeline of waste management
- Timeline of hygiene
- Timeline of water supply
- Timeline of water treatment
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