European history as far back as 400 years ago tells of sewage being collected, de-watered, and transported as "night soil" away from population centers. In 1857, a British royal commission, in response to noxious conditions in the Thames River, directed Lord Essex to report on alternative ways to dispose of urban wastewater. Essex concluded that applying wastewater to crops would be preferable to the current practice of draining it into the river. Wastewater treatment technology has progressed tremendously since those times. Today's facilities employ a variety of sophisticated physical, chemical, and biological processes to reduce domestic and industrial waste-water to less harmful by-products.
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