Darcy's design and construction of the water supply system in Dijon in 1840 was instigated by a cholera epidemic in 1832, and his insistence that water should be freely available to all was based on a broad societal consensus that all classes of the public, particularly the poor, had a right to clean water. With the dawn of the industrial revolution in France the necessity of sewers and waste disposal became obvious, and as part of his project, Darcy used city water to flush a streambed that had collected waste for several centuries. Dijon's water supply project involved the appropriation of springs and private property. The political decision to construct the water infrastructure invoked the public interest but also resulted in lawsuits. In a more scientific vein, Darcy was aware of the importance of phreatophytes on spring discharge and soil fertility. He believed in traditional (Roman) and modern methods of locating springs and perfected tools for finding and measuring ground and surface water, such as the Pitot tube.
The presentation will focus on Darcy's ideas on these interrelated issues and how they relate to the challenges we face in the 21st century.
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