Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design

For centuries, the people of London and other big cities got their cooking and washing water from rivers or wells, limiting their consumption to pretty much what they could carry. 

They dumped their waste into brick-lined cesspits that would be emptied by the night soil men, who sold it as fertilizer or dumped it off Dung Pier into the Thames. Liquid waste might be thrown into gutters in the middle of the road.

In 1854, in the middle of a cholera epidemic in London, Dr John Snow mapped where victims died and found that the deaths seemed concentrated around one of those pumps, at 37 Broad Street. When he had the handle removed from the pump, the cholera epidemic stopped immediately. He had made the first verifiable connection between human waste and disease.

After people realised that excrement plus drinking water equals death, parliament passed the Metropolitan Water Act to “make provision for securing the supply to the metropolis of pure and wholesome water”. Public pumps were replaced with pipes delivering water directly to homes.

Read full text in The Guardian