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series_hybrid t1_j68qvw1 wrote

There had been a home with a septic pit in the basement. When the road was widened by the government, that house was demoed like many others.

Then, someone decided to install a public water well in a certain intersection, near the old cesspit.

There was a water table that was refreshed by rain up in the hills. edit: a water table is a layer of sand with a layer of clay under it. Rain percolates down through the soil and hits the clay, then spreads out sideways to make a flat "table" of water. Digging a well is best done near a river, but not too close.

The sun caused tides once a day on the Thames River, and once a month when the moon was on the same side of the Earth as the sun, the double tide makes the Thames water level higher.

Under the right conditions, the water table flows back towards the land, instead of flowing from the land to the river. It flowed from the abandoned cesspit towards the well.


throwawayforj0b t1_j68r6en wrote

I wasn't aware of the hydrological reasons for it, very interesting!


series_hybrid t1_j68znlo wrote

It's been a while, I may have gotten some of the details wrong.


Jaggedmallard26 t1_j68u031 wrote

I quite like the style of this comment, just various events that come together at the end.


series_hybrid t1_j6d03hn wrote

Thanks. I try to present interesting stories in the most compelling way possible.


foxorhedgehog t1_j69l2bc wrote

There is a replica of that pump at the original location. My friend, who is an epidemiologist, sent me a picture of it recently.


throwawayforj0b t1_j69pael wrote

It's one of the earliest stories of epidemiology. My favorite tidbit is that there was one cluster in a rich area of town away from the well that they couldn't explain at first (and made it harder to track down the source). They found out there was a rich woman who had a servant retrieving water from the bad well 'because it tastes sweeter'.