Great Inventions of the 19th Century
Water: The fount of all life
Water distribution
Access to clean water is a human right and water distribution is essential to new lifestyles.
During the 19th and the early 20th centuries, water distribution was part of the modernising programmes taking place in both Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world. The main challenge was the enhancement of city life with modern water supply services. The technical implementation of water distribution was seen as another aspect of “progress” and as a modern method of preventing epidemics. It is worth noticing that this was also carried out in continuity with the past. The need for water distribution had been as strong as in previous centuries for hygienic or religious reasons. “Modern” water distribution was based on state-of-the-art steam machines and pumping techniques, but in some cases, such as the aqueduct of Zaghouan in Tunisia, ancient infrastructure was adjusted to contemporary needs.
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Water: The fount of all life

Water distribution
Photograph showing the Ottoman factory of Beirut Water


Ministry of Water and Energy, Beirut, Lebanon

Water distribution based on modern technology was implemented in the second half of the 19th century through the reforms issued by the Ottoman sultans. For example in Beirut, water treatment and distribution was organised through the Beirut Water Company in Dbayeh.

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Water: The fount of all life