– Let’s pray to the goddess Glossina, the protector of our sewers
The city depends on its pipes like bathrooms and the body in its bowels. Even if it pinches your nose, zoom in on the hidden side of our water networks.
We don’t give enough thanks to Closene, the pagan goddess associated with Venus. It has even been banished from our Olympus, though we find it more superfluous than that. Imagine for a moment going through the sewers she presides over. Imagine not being able to trust your flush anymore like you trust your valve. Hello situation.
Let’s go back a bit to IIe Millennium BC In the Indus Valley, the Harappan site of Mohenjo Daro (present-day Pakistan) already exhibits a sophisticated system of canals. In the Greek Cyclades, ditto on the side of Santorini and its Akrotiri.
The Romans used cleverly inclined aqueducts to transport clean water and discharge waste water. By the year 200, Urbs had nearly a million active digestive tracts in its soil: necessary to quench their thirst and protect them from bacteria due to their own excretions. Glossina was there to oversee it.
“Imagine not being able to trust your flush like you trust your valve anymore.”
Even today, if one puts one’s ear against a door in the heart of the ancient forum, one hears whispers in the depths of the cloaca maxima created in VII.e century BC J.-C. Originally open in the open, the Great Cloak was 600 meters long, 4 meters high and 3 meters wide, and was later covered to seal off the stench. However, be aware of the gases produced by fermentation, which can burst pipes.
During the Middle Ages, urban infrastructure deteriorated as the countryside was repopulated. In London, for example, only the good old Thames carries away human excrement, animal intestines, garbage and other industrial waste. Cholera doesn’t just hurt donkeys. At that time, drains were dug on the roads and it was believed that the sewage there would flow favorably during the next rains.
If underground pipes reappeared as feudalism evaporated, the twin revolutions of sewerage and treatment would have to wait until the 19th century.e and XXe Centuries. It should be noted that the use of humus dug septic tanks continues in rural areas, especially for domestic use, where periodic emptying is recommended. As for dry toilets, which are praised in environmental circles, they save a good portion of the 35% to 40% of drinking water wasted daily in the West.
“At that time, we dig gutters on the roads, where we hope that the waste will flow in favor of the next rain.”
Beneath Geneva’s public domain, no less than 280 kilometers of pipes meander in a network: a veritable bowel on a city scale. The largest collectors, 2 meters in diameter, may have one or the other of fifteen employees assigned to their maintenance. But most of these drains are not more than 60 cm and are therefore monitored by cameras.
Sludge from the town of Galvin goes to Aïre, a local water treatment plant, where it is discharged at a rate of 2,000 liters per second. The solids are then extracted, then dehydrated and incinerated, and ultimately converted into fuel or fertilizer. The wheel spins.
Thus ends our summer health series, and falls into the bowl without making any splash other than meditation.
Katya Berger Since 2012, he has been a journalist in the culture department. He covers current events in the performing arts, typically through theater or dance reviews, but sometimes covers photography, visual arts, or literature.More information