Education Report

Haig Demergian, PE, CPD, FASPE
Chairman Education Committee
August 2017

WPC Research Data Base

World Plumbing Council (WPC) announced that the Research Data Base is available on website, for review by interested parties.

WPC is an international organization formed to promote word wide, the new research and accomplishments of new technologies of plumbing industry. The main reason for this program is to inform interested parties of the ongoing research and the results of new technologies applied to various plumbing issues. This program will help researchers to know what projects are already completed and what other projects are still in the testing phase. It is evident that this program will reduce duplication of the research efforts.

In the past the same research was done simultaneous in different Countries without the knowledge of the research under way in another Country.

This Data Research Base will provide information of various research projects across the world. To review this Research Data Base, visit WPC home page, and click on “Research”.



One Member’s Opinion

Sewer systems short history.

Following the development of sanitation from ancient period to today’s sanitation, we may conclude that a gradual but substantial decrease in importance was observed in medieval  times compared with ancient times.

The answer to this question is very complex and is explained in part by  considering few factors which are related with the number of living population and location in different stages of civilization.

Civilization= social organization of a high order,  advanced in social relations, science and arts.

Uninformed persons, even in our profession, talk about “modern sanitation”, as something recently developed. But if you examine the history, sanitation is far from a new discovery.

It is true that development of sanitation progressed very slowly, if at all, in some 6000 years.

This opinion is a small and succinct history, which will follow the development of sanitation,  to understand what really happened.

The ancient Mesopotamian empires of Assyria and Babylonia, located near present Baghdad, are places dated about 4500 BC, where it was found great advances in civilization. People living in that time, developed agriculture, domesticated animals and start living in civilized cities, with accommodations as running water and collecting sewage. Recent archeological excavations discovered considerable important information. The art of sanitation developed in 2550 BC, might sometimes, shame many present towns of similar size.

Some of these pipes and drains are still working after 4000 years. Obviously this is an excellent example of a good products and good craftsmanship.

Similar civilizations are “Indus civilization” in India, dated about 2550 BC and “Minoans Civilization” dated about 3000 BC in the Island of Crete in the Aegean Sea. Both of these civilizations developed majestic palaces and displayed considerable understanding of hydraulics and water flow. Water was carried in terra-cotta pipes and sewage channels were built from stones.

Some of these pipes and drains are still working after 4000 years. Obviously this is another excellent example of a good products and good craftsmanship.

Indoor plumbing was discovered not only in palaces, but also in housing for working population.

Roman period.

It is known that Roman Empire (400 BC – 450 AD) was a period of great development of civilization in many fields.

Romans build in 200 BC extensive aqueducts, which are still standing, to bring water from the distant mountains to the cities. Also they build sewers to drain wasted water and rain water.

When a new city was designed, the first construction was the municipal bath and latrines. The most famous bath is “The Bath of Caracalla” built in Rome during 212-217 AD. The bath complex consist of large, spacious buildings with hot pools, and cold pools, places to relax, has latrines, is heated with warm air, circulating under floor and in double walls. They had to install 2,000 tons of material every

day, for 6 years, to complete this complex. Next to the bath building are separate buildings for libraries, meetings and prayers.

Water was supplied from aqueducts and distributed with lead pipes, which are still working after over 2000 years. (Nobody knows what was the guarantee offered by the Contractor!). Our present water pipes, last an average of 50 – 70 years, and plastic pipes even  much less.

The period between 400 – 800 AD is a period of migration of tribes (barbarians) from Asia, and ended with the collapse of Western Roman empire after Goths conquered Rome in 476 AD.

There are numerous other ancient civilizations who developed sanitation and fresh water facilities for their population. The civilization listed above are examples of few of them.

Dark Ages.

This period between 500 – 1000 AD classified as “Dark Ages” is very confusing because written history of this period is very limited. The period is characterized by religious struggle and catholic corruption. Sanitation, availability of safe potable water, removal of human excrements, and bathing were totally ignored. It is not a surprise that 1/3 of  the population of Europe was killed by water born illnesses.

Appears that all the knowledge of ancestors living 2000 – 3000 years earlier was forgotten or lost.


Renaissance (rebirth) followed Dark Ages, after 1000 AD, and has been characterized by a surge  in classical values, discoveries, inventions, as paper and printing, etc.  Also new approach was imposed by municipalities, regarding sanitation and availability of safe drinking water offered to population living in close quarters of new developed cities.

Industrial revolution started in England and Germany in 1700 – 1800 and a large section of population moved from rural areas to cities, close to large factories.  This time is characterized by mechanization of agriculture and textile manufacturing, application of power including ships and railroads that affected social, economic and cultural conditions of population. Sewers were build under streets and indoor plumbing start to become more common for working class. However this process developed slowly, because of the cost, and absence of information about importance of sanitation and availability of non-contaminated drinking water.

Later, in 1890 AD, the work of Dr. Louis Pasteur and Dr. Koch open the eyes of “scientific gurus” of the time, that all diseases are the result of bacteria, viruses and other micro organisms, and are not God punishment for our sins. 1900 AD can be considered the birth of a new medical specialty: Microbiology.

Today there are still millions of people in underdeveloped countries, who do not benefit of safe fresh water or proper sanitation facilities. In a recent article discussing sanitation and water situation in several South African countries, reports :

“The unrelenting struggle against sanitation and water poverty continues to be a daily struggle for majority of people living in South Africa. From 170 million people, almost 2/3 have no access to basic sanitation, and over 100 million have no access to clean safe drinking water”. That explains why each year, about 120,000 children under age of 5, die from diarrhea and other water borne illnesses.

From recent surveys, it is estimated that approximately 2.3 billion people lack access to proper sanitation, and from this large group of people, 1.1 billion practice open  defecation. It is no surprise that under these conditions, over 500,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by polluted water and poor sanitation.

One solution to this global crisis, is the new low cost toilet pan, named SaTo (Safe Toilet)  that, utilizes a simple plastic trap door, to close off pit latrines made of concrete. This reduces disease transmission from flying insects, that come in contact with human waste. The original SaTo, was the first step in developing a full line of bathroom products for people living far away from water and sewer infrastructures.

American Standard developed this toilet pan, supported by a grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More than 1 million self contained toilets are currently in use  in 14 countries. The target is, to provide access to sanitation for 100 million people by year 2020.

Currently field testing is underway for three new models of SaTo designed to be used where water is available. The user will rinse the pan using a small amount of water.

There are also, people who had plenty of hot and cold water and sanitation facilities, who don’t follow elementary rules of hygiene, as washing often their hands. More education of population – at – large is in order.

As you can see, from this concise opinion, sanitation is not a new discovery, and in fact, developed very slowly during past 6000 years.