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Will We Ever Invent Anything This Useful Again?

Recently the highly respected magazine “The Economist” ran a cover story that asked the pertinent question if we will ever invent something as useful as the flushing toilet again.  No matter which way you look at it the flushing toilet has done wonders for public health in modern society.

The humble toilet and its associated water flushing in its many variations and improvements over the years have helped to stop the spread of infectious disease. In fact a survey of 11000 doctors by the “British Medical Journal” in 2007 voted hands down that the world’s greatest medical milestone since 1840 was sanitation which of course the toilet is an integral part of. Despite all the staggering medical breakthroughs and scientific advances the seemingly mundane advance of reliable sewage and reliably clean water supply was judged the greatest medical advance.

The ancient Indus Valley Civilization were the first to use hydraulic engineering in the earliest version known of flushing water toilets. The Romans used latrines over pipes with running water that carried into the Tiber River. The Romans were the first civilised society over 2000 years ago to realise the requirements to have an integrated plumbing system to pipe in clean water and dispose of used water .

In 1596 Sir John Harrington installed a toilet for his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, who would not use it because of the noise it made. Contrary to popular opinion Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet but he did popularise the siphon system used to empty the tank or cistern.

For most of us in Australia flushing toilets and the associated plumbing is something we take for granted. Like most of the population the staff at Whywait Plumbing have never known what it is like not to have a flushing toilet inside the house or to have on demand clean running water inside our homes or a fully functional sewer system to take away the used water.

Close to 90% of us live in an urban environment and for that we can thank plumbing, that allows us to do so safely, without fear of contracting water borne diseases.

Clean potable water is the basis for life and without it the risk to public health and the population as a whole increases. The cost to the community of plumbing failures are substantial and always have been. The recognition by “The Economist” and “British Medical Journal” that the flushing toilet coupled with reliable sewage and water supply is testament to the strength of plumbing laws, standards and licensing in not only Australia but also in Europe and North America. This is because doctors recognised the best measure of medical advance is not its complexity but what it does for the average person with respect to length and quality of our lives. The average life expectancy has increased 35 years since 1840 and roughly 30 of those years are attributable to the advances in sanitation and living conditions.

Even in today’s society, not everyone has access to a flushing toilet and in Asia alone some 2 billion people, which is over 60% of the population of Asia, live without an adequate access to sanitation such as toilets. In many places open sewers are the norm. This would not be tolerated in Australia and we are protected from it thankfully by our plumbing laws.

No matter which way you look at it “The Economist” is correct we will possibly as a society never invent anything as useful again as the flushing toilet which has improved billions of people’s lives.

Water Harvesting

Harvest Mother Nature’s Precious Water With the Most Efficient Rain Collection System on the Market Today. This system collects 100% of the rain on your roof; puts money back in your pocket and allows you to use recycled water in your toilet, laundry, garden and home.

As you no doubt realise, clean and potable water remains an issue here in Southeast Queensland, especially regarding recycled water, desalinated water, and rainwater tanks. All new buildings, residential and commercial, are required to be outfitted with rain water tanks for irrigation and toilet flushing.

For existing buildings it is important in the long term to create sustainable methods to conserve valuable rainwater without destroying the aesthetics of your home or business. From our experience, a Rain-Return® system is the best of its kind, allowing a rainwater tank to collect 100% – vs. the average of 10% – of rainwater falling on your roof.

A Rain-Return® system harvests all the water from your storm water drains which, in turn,  collect all the water from the roof.  A simple underground pit pumps the water back to your storage tank. When the storage tank is full a float valve activates and the pump stops pumping and allows the water to continue through the normal storm water drain system.

Whywait Plumbing can design a system for you like those we’ve installed for Westfield Helensvale Shopping Centre,  AB Paterson College, or Robina State School.  With your new Rain-Return® system, you can:

  • Maximise your storage capacity

  • Collect 100% of rain falling on the roof plus air conditioning & roof condensation

  • Reduce your water bills

  • Eliminate ugly piping systems to your rainwater tank

  • Comply with water sustainability requirements

Rain water can now be used in urban areas for:

  • Toilet flushing

  • Installing multiple 25000 litre rainwater tanks for storing water from the rain water harvesting system at Westfield Shopping Centre, Helensvale

  • Laundry cold water supply to the washing machine

  • Washing & cleaning

  • Washing your cars & boats

  • Irrigating your gardens & lawn

And, provided certain precautions are taken into account including adherence to backflow requirements, rainwater harvesting can also provide drinkable water that is free from chemicals, such as chlorine, which are used to treat our main potable water supplies.

Whywait Plumbing has been installing rainwater storage systems for more than 30 years.  What’s more, we are a licensed GreenPlumber™ and, as such, have been at the forefront in  developing and installing urban tanks.

With a fully-installed rainwater harvesting system from Whywait, you can count on:

  • a complete site inspection to ensure the system recommended will work correctly

  • a range of systems to choose from

  • a guaranteed installation date

  • installation and certification by a licensed plumber

  • access to all government and council rebates

To learn more about a rainwater harvesting system from Whywait Plumbing , contact us today to schedule your no-obligation site inspection.

by Gary Mays

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