With the beginning of the 19th century, researchers proved that contrary
to the popular beliefs, the taste of the water alone can not determine its purity. New
concerns and ways to tackle them are coming up. Continuing with the series, let us look at
the initiatives from the 19th and 20th century.
In 1806, a large water treatment
plant began operating in Paris. Sand and charcoal was renewed every six hours to filter
the water, which was supplied by pumps driven by horses.
While studying the reasons behind
the 1849 cholera epidemic in London, Dr John Snow unearthed the co-relations between water
quality and health. Since then, the drinking water standards came into being.
The first governmental water
regulation came in 1852. London enacted the Metropolitan Water Act, requiring the
filtration of all water supplied.
In the latter part of the 19th
century significant improvements in water treatment systems were introduced like, improved
slow sand filters and application of chlorination and ozone for disinfection.
Belgium in 1902 and London in 1905
start chlorinating the drinking water. The public water supply from Boonton reservoir, New
Jersey, was chlorinated. This inexpensive method producing water that is 20 times purer
than filtered water was contested in the court and was upheld as city's right to public
In 1914, the country's first
drinking water bacteriological standards (a maximum level of two coliforms per 100 ml)
were specified by the US Department of the Treasury.
By the beginning of the 20th century, waterborne epidemics were eliminated from
US. However, on the other side of the globe the situation remains grim even today. In the
next issue, we will conclude this journey.