Most of us take our water Supply for granted, but Water for society is akin to blood for the body; we rely on it to survive.
How many of us have ever taken the time to think about the fascinating journey our water supply has taken through the ages?
While most of us just accept that we can turn open a tap and water will pour out, early settlers had no such luxuries and had to dwell around major freshwater sources like rivers and natural springs to access fresh water. Unfortunately that was not always easy as although two thirds of the Earth is covered in water, only 3% is drinkable and most of that is captured in glaciers and ice caps. Most of the water suitable for Human consumption flows underground, as a mere 0.009% of Earth’s water is situated in rivers, streams and springs.
Humans started digging wells and building aqueducts really long ago, such as the oldest wells ever found in Jezreel Valley, Israel which date back to around 6500 BC. The Indus Valley Civilisation, famous for the first water management system, built wells, water pipes and toilets. The first evidence of proper water supply though came from the Minoan civilisation in Crete, who were the first known civilisation to use underground clay pipes to supply drinking water.
The large-scale engineering projects of the Romans brought Indoor plumbing, supplied by great aqueducts such as the Pont du Gard aqueduct in Nimes, France. , Persians invented Qanats, gently sloping underground channels with a series of vertical access shafts that could supply them with an ongoing supply of cool, potable water from as far as 50 kilometres away. The Mayans initiated water pressure and water purification, using limestone to filter their water, in a similar fashion to the modern ceramic water filters we use today.
Water supply in the UK began around 1325, and much has been done since, but it must also be noted that unless the current ancient infrastructure is maintained and improved on we are in for major problems in the future. Old iron pipes are contaminating the water supply with toxic metals and traces of both pharmaceutical and recreational drugs have been found in the water, which is not good for human or animal life.
Without accessible potable water and water for other needs such as industry, transport and energy we will eventually just die out as a civilisation.
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