Did You Know?

  • The Cloaca Maxima (literally translates to “the greatest sewer”) is a covered sewer in Rome that was built between the Second and First centuries, BC. It is the largest and most advanced segment of the Roman sewage system that discharges into the Tiber River near Ponte Palatino. Parts of the Cloaca Maxima are still in use today. To read more about this engineering masterpiece please see citation below. (1)
  • One of the first research facilities, Lawrence Experiment Station (known now as Senator William X Wall Experiment Station) located in Lawrence, MA was established in 1887. Hiram Francis Mills was its first director and is known as the Father of American Sanitary Engineering. Its main mission was to develop practical methods to treat wastewater and is credited with some of the earliest experiments on the activated sludge process.  (2)
  • The British Medical Journal conducted a poll in 2007 asking what was the most important medical milestone since 1840 (its inception date)? Those polled chose the introduction of clean water and sewage disposal – “the sanitary revolution”. Followed by antibiotics and anesthesia. (3)
  • Sir John Harington of the United Kingdom is credited with the first flushing lavatory or water-closet (1596), which he named “Ajax”. Unfortunately for Sir Harington, the name “Ajax” didn’t stick, and to this day people in the UK will regularly say they are “going to the John” (the term “John” believed to be a derivative of the term “Jakes” that was also used for a toilet).  (4)
  • The average person will spend three (3) years of their life on the toilet using 57 sheets of toilet paper per day. Most toilets flush in the key of E flat.

  1. UN Water Report (2017) – Wastewater The Untapped Resource – https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/247153e.pdf
  2. WaterWorld – – https://www.waterworld.com/international/wastewater/article/16200968/activated-sludge-100-years-not-out
  3. British Medical Journal – BMJ 2007;334:111 – https://www.bmj.com/content/334/7585/111.2.full
  4. Historic UK – – https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/The-Throne-of-Sir-John-Harrington/

Cloaca Maxima – Roman engineering masterpiece of the ancient world.

Lawrence Experiment Station (1887), MA