Despite, or perhaps because of the creation of the New River, the River Thames saw little improvement. The Thames continued to be a health hazard as the decades passed. In the summer of 1858, the disposal of human waste into the Thames (ironically due in large part to the invention of the more sanitary flushing toilets) led not only to an outbreak of cholera in the city, but to a period known as “The Big Stink.” The Big Stink wasn’t all bad, however, as it eventually led to the study of the role of the sanitary conditions in disease.
Even today the Thames has a ways to go before it becomes drinkable again. Residing in the middle of a city still lends it to easy trash disposal, and “trash eaters” have been made to roam the tidal river snacking on plastic bags, newspapers, and, oddly enough, water bottles.
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.