While a large majority of the population aren’t well acquainted with the inner workings of the septic system, and would rather think on more pleasant things, an even larger portion of the population haven’t the faintest idea as to who invented this intricate system. But seeing as it’s something many people use on a daily basis, perhaps it’s worth delving deeper into the world of waste and asking, ‘Who invented the septic system?’.
Starting at the very beginning, humans were not very considerate about where they would dump their waste, and since early civilizations lived close to water sources and relied heavily upon them, they would simply defecate downstream. This worked well enough for a while, but when communities grew and started living more inland, they needed a different ablution solution.
We can thank the Minoans of Ancient Greece for developing rudimentary underground piping systems, aqueducts, cisterns, and flushing toilets, which made living inland more convenient. We can also thank the Romans who further refined these systems and made them work for larger populations. But, ‘Where does the septic systems come into the picture?’ you may ask. Well, the story continues. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, there was widespread disillusionment with the city life, and more people made the decision to move to outlying areas where they could have a more sustainable lifestyle.
Naturally, the question of what to do with their waste arose, and the answer to this came in the form of Outhouses, which were basically long drops that provided shelter from the elements.
The Man Behind the Septic System
The man we can ultimately thank is named Jean-Louis Mouras. It was out of his frustration that the septic system was birthed. This Frenchman was fed up with having to venture out into the freezing cold whenever ‘nature called’, so he built upon the idea of using a flushing toilet and clay pipes to funnel waste water away from his home by combining this with his knowledge of modern cesspits (an underground waste storage tank, requiring users to empty it periodically). There was just one small modification to the tank: he designed and developed a sealed tank that would slowly release excess waste water into the cesspool, in a controlled manner. This invention, he proudly named the Mouras Pit, functioned effectively for ten years without a single problem!
Out of sheer curiosity, Mouras decided to see what was going on inside the tank. He opened it, only to discover an emptied tank with just a thin layer of scum – something far less foul than he imagined. Eager to learn what happened to all the waste, he worked alongside a scientist named Abbe Moigno. They discovered friendly bacteria and microorganisms were responsible for breaking everything down, and developed their first prototype in 1881 with this knowledge.
Fast forward to the current day, after hundreds of improvements to the Mouras Pit from across the globe, we now benefit from the modern septic system (which is a bit more complex and refined).
So, there you have it! We hope you’ve found this brief history surrounding who invented the septic system insightful.
At Shadai SA, we make use of septic systems that consist of a concrete tank and a leachfield, and have a professional team who can install this for you in accordance with health and environmental regulations. If you’d like to get a quote on installing a septic system, don’t hesitate to call or email us for assistance.