It’s December 2018 and Charlie Ewart is inspecting the sewers beneath the English seaside town of Sidmouth. Suddenly, something horrific looms up from the dark – like a monster straight out a terrifying movie. And this congealed mass of trash, oils and grease – known as a “fatberg” – has grown to a colossal size.
Back in the days before effective sanitation, people around the world often used to be dependent on natural water sources like rivers to wash away sewage. And as a result, disease and sickness were widespread, eventually leading people to begin developing a more hygienic approach.
But even though underground sewers are more commonly associated with modern metropolises such as London and New York City, the idea has been around for thousands of years. In fact, basic wastewater systems have been found in buildings on Skara Brae in the Scottish Orkneys that are thought to date back to 3000 B.C.