What would those great Victorian public health pioneers John Snow and Joseph Bazalgette have made of today’s ‘toilet to tap’ approach to water usage in that hub of technological innovation, California?
Snow’s pioneering data investigation in 1854 traced a serious cholera outbreak to a water pump in London’s Broad Street where drinking water had become contaminated by sewage.
Bazalgette’s extraordinary engineering of the London sewer system helped ensure the effective separation of drinking and wastewater.
Then, water was a plentiful resource (in Britain at least). Today it seems much less so. Firstly, on account of environmental and population pressures; secondly, due to greater demand from industry.
As our knowledge of water's constituents and inhabitants has increased, so has the development of ways to make water safer
In parallel with this, consumers and government regulators have become much more stringent in the quality demands they place upon water used.
That, however, is the result of more advanced science buoyed by better process methods. We demand more from our water because we know more about its constituents and inhabitants; as our knowledge of them has increased, so has the development of ways to make water safer.
UV technology is developing a presence in the drinking water sector such as it has previously achieved in the wastewater market. Asset Management Period 7 will see that trend develop further.
Even ardent environmentalists may blanch at the prospect of accepting the products of waste being recycled back into the food chain; the famously fastidious Singapore authorities opt for the euphemistic description of ‘new water’ to make the prospect more palatable.
No wonder, for it has been hard-wired into humans for generations to avoid mixing the two. Yet, far from representing any repudiation of those Victorian pioneers, modern water treatment is bringing the safety process full circle – to the greater benefit of people, industry and environment.