Early sewer systems
Interior of Brick SewerThe first sewer pipes were constructed of brick and mortar in the Indus Valley in 2500 BC. Some of these systems, constructed by the Persians, Macedonians and Minoans, contained brick-lined pits similar to modern septic systems. Eventually, the Romans and Greeks built extensive open sewer systems of brick and stone which carried effluent and trash to cesspools constructed of stone or concrete. Solids would then settle to the bottom and liquid would flow to nearby bodies of water. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe entered the dark ages and many of these sewer systems fell into disrepair as sanitation and cleanliness became less important.
Materials in the 1800s
It wasn’t until the beginning of the nineteenth century when urbanization created a larger disease issue that sanitation efforts picked up again. Sewer technology progressed rapidly over the next few decades with new pipe materials entering the market and new technologies changing the industry. Each of these new materials found popularity and success in different regions. The first waterworks in the United States was installed in Philadelphia in 1802. Many of these early systems were still built with brick and mortar. Lines had to be much larger to account for the rough interior and required more structural support. Over time, corrosive materials in the sewer also wore away mortar, leading cities to invest in other, newer materials.
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