There is nothing more important to your home’s health than a supply of fresh water. Cities are always limited by how much healthy drinking water they can bring to their citizens. Some of the greatest public works projects of all time have been aimed at impounding and transporting drinking water. Humanity has invested much of its ingenuity in this all-important task. Here are four incredible inventions that help to bring the water we need to our homes.
1. The Archimedean Screw
Archimedes’ screw is a textbook example of engineering ingenuity, and has been illustrated in countless works on the subject. Although it is named after the ancient Greek engineer, the device predates him by hundreds of years. It is extremely simple in its essence, as it is only a hollow tube or inclined trough with a long screw running the length. The screw is attached to handle, which is turned by hand, animal power, electricity, or even by a water wheel pushed by the pressure of the running water itself. When the screw turns the water is scooped up, trapped inside the trough, and elevated to the top. As simple as it may seem, the Archimedean screw has been the useful tool of humanity since ancient times. It was used for irrigation, drinking water, mining pumps, and dewatering pumps.
2. The Electric Pump
The electrical engine represented a tremendous step forward as the power of lighting was tamed to run an allight mining pump. Suddenly water movement was no longer at the whim of what a windmill could turn or a horse could pull. Steam is what allows us to move water over mountains to reach cities in the desert. There is a nuclear power plant in central California that literally does nothing but pump water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles.
3. The Faucet
We take the faucet for granted, but without this well-designed spigot our homes would never be as clean or healthy. These things do not invent themselves. Taps for the faucet that could be screwed down to close and unscrewed to open were first introduced by English brassworkers Guest and Chrimes in 1845. The first mixer tap, with two separate handles for hot and cold water, was invented by Canadian Thomas Campbell in 1880.
4. The Gooseneck Pipe
The S-shaped bend in the drain line was instituted in the sink system from hard experience. If there is no bend in the pipe then gasses from fermentation and decomposition can easily escape from the sewer and cause a dreadful miasma in the home. The gooseneck bend traps gas and creates a barrier to contamination. Water must be safely removed after it is brought into a home, and without the gooseneck pipe the modern sink would be impossible.