John O'Connor

A Brief History of Human Waste Disposal - Part 4. Sewage Treatment

Blog Post created by John O'Connor on Dec 29, 2010



Part 4. Sewage Treatment is my favorite part of this series. In it, you will find a classic collection of 44 black-and-white images from glass slides (circa 1940s). This was a period when 'sewage' still existed and sewage treatment in the U.S. was still in its infancy. Decades more would pass before collection systems and treatment works permeated the rural interior of our nation.


Overall, this review is a visual reminder of just how recent sewage collection and treatment is in our history. A large share of U.S. systems today are barely 50 years old.



          Have you ever seen coagulated sewage?

          Using today's standards, how many OSHA violations can you detect from the photos?

          Have you ever used, or even seen, a  glass Imhoff cone?

          Are you familiar with the once widely used measure of 'relative stability?'


A Brief (Illustrated) History of Human Waste Disposal -- and its possible future.

Part 1. Cesspits & Outhouses
Part 2. Toilets & Water Carriage

Part 3. Sewerage
Part 4. Sewage Treatment
(attached pps)
Part 5. Wastewater Treatment
Part 6. The Future: Wastewater Reclamation