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World Plumbing Day 2020

Recognising the global role of plumbing

11th March is World Plumbing Day, an international event initiated by the World Plumbing Council as a means of highlighting the important role plumbing plays in the health, safety and sustainability of our community.

To mark the occasion we have brought together a range of facts about plumbing from the historical origins of plumbing, to the industry today and looking at how we use (and waste) water across the world. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you will see these facts posted throughout the day but you can read them all here below:

  • The word ‘plumber’ comes from the Latin word for lead – ‘plumbum’ and was adopted during the Roman Empire
  • Lead was commonly used for water pipes until the early 20th century when the dangers of lead poisoning became recognised
  • Wooden pipes were used in London during the 16th and 17th century. These were made from hollowed out logs. Pipes would be sealed together with hot animal fat
  • The first flushing toilet was discovered in Crete in 1500 BC in the palace of King Minus
  • The modern flushing toilet was invented in 1596 by Sir John Harrington, an English courtier and godson of Queen Elizabeth I
  • The word ‘privy’ comes from the French word ‘privé’ meaning private.
  • The word ‘potty’ comes from chamber pots which were commonly used until the mid-20th century.
  • The term ‘water closet’ refers to a water flushing toilet, as opposed to an ‘earth closet’ which had to be manually emptied. The acronym ‘WC’ is still commonly used today
  • Indoor bathrooms only became common in the early 20th century and many still had outdoor toilets right up to the mid-20th century
  • The Romans pioneered public sanitation with extensive networks of lead pipes providing running water and taking away waste. However, some historians believe that lead poisoning from these systems could have played a part in the fall of the Roman Empire
  • The sewage system in London cost £4 million to build in the 1850s after the ‘Great Stinks’ of the time forced parliament take action to catch sewage before it flowed into the Thames
  • The world’s largest underground waterway is the G-Cans system in Tokyo, Japan. If the Edogawa River reaches dangerous levels, turbines pump excess water into huge silos underground measuring 105 ft diameter by 213 ft deep.
  • Strange things have been found in sewers around the world including alligators, gold, ‘fatberg’ the size of a double decker bus and even half a Mini car!
  • 40% of the world’s population does not have access to proper sanitation, a working sewerage system or clean drinking water
  • 20% of the world’s population lives in an area of water scarcity
  • It is estimated that 80% of Brits have at least 1 regular water wasting habit
  • A leaking toilet can waste 600 litres of water per dayand a dripping tap could waste up to 5000 litres of water a year!
  • Every day we waste 3 billion litres of water in the UK which would be enough to hydrate the entire population of Africa
  • Each household wastes around 40,000 litres of water a year waiting for it to heat up. Minimise this by catching the water to use elsewhere or installing a more efficient boiler so the water heats faster
  • Do you know how to turn the water off if there is a leak in your home? According to research, 82% of 18-24 year olds wouldn’t know where the stop tap was in an emergency
  • Generally speaking, if there is a leak or blockage outside your property, the pipes between your property and the public sewer are your responsibility. Any pipes beyond that point are the responsibility of your water provider
  • Yorkshire water has a network of around 20,000 miles of underground pipes, collecting waste water from homes, liquid waste from industry and rainwater
  • On average, it takes around 2 years to qualify as a plumber at a trade school or up to 5 years through an apprenticeship scheme
  • The majority of plumbers are male: of 100,000 Gas Safe registered engineers, fewer than 500 of them are female. 35% of women would prefer to use a female tradesperson so there is a big gap in the market for female plumbing engineers.

Plumbing is clearly a vital industry across the world and billions of people have benefited from the health and sanitation that plumbing has brought. We are, however, still wasting too much water every year while many parts of the world do not have access to clean water and global warming means flooding and extreme weather are becoming more common so there is still work to do.

We hope that you found something interesting within these facts. If you have any plumbing issues or questions, you can complete the form opposite or call us 0800 032 6478.

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