Have you ever considered what life would be without plumbing? As long as we have running water and our toilets flush our lives move along uninterrupted. Modern plumbing as we know it today has only been around since the early 1800’s

In the 1500’s London, England had an estimated population of 150,000 residents. Some neighborhoods literally had waste flying out their windows. Those on upper floors would empty their chamber pots onto the streets below. It is estimated that the average person creates half-a-pound of waste (poop) a day. That would have been an estimated 75,000 pounds of human waste, not including urine, being dumped onto the streets per day.

According to the US Census of July 2011 there were 8,244,910 people residing in New York City. That means more than 4 million pounds of poop gets flushed down toilets every single day. If disaster struck and the grid went down, all that waste would be dumped outside our homes onto the streets.

After a month, cities would be bursting at the seams with waste that has nowhere to go. No modern city has enough fresh water without working water and sewer treatment facilities. Local water sources would become contaminated killing wildlife and creating an ecological disaster. There is no feasible way to support a major city like New York without a steady supply of fresh water or a working sewer system. Disease and death would become pandemic in a short period of time.

As dire as this may seem, the reality of our current sewer and water infrastructure has not been scaled up to encompass a growing population. This has added additional stress to our plumbing and sewer systems, while also depleting our water resources. Open defecation is still a problem that developing countries face and the fact that 1 in 3 people in the world still have nowhere adequate to go to the bathroom is a health concern.
In the US it’s easy to take our plumbing for granted. If you enjoy our way of life, like taking a swim at the beach or lake, it is our responsibility as a modern society to look at improving our sewer and water infrastructure or face a world without plumbing as we know it.


 “If you consider the contribution of plumbing to human life, the other sciences fade into significance” – James P Gorman