Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/64

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54
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

there is the water from kitchens containing vegetable, animal, and other refuse, and that from wash-houses containing soap and the animal matter from soiled linen. There is also the drainage from stables and cow houses, and that from slaughter-houses containing animal and vegetable offal. In cases where privies and cesspools are used instead of water closets, or these are not connected with sewers, there is a still larger proportion of human refuse in the form of chamber-slops and urine. In fact, sewage cannot be looked upon as composed solely of human excrement diluted with water, but as water mixed with a vast variety of matters, some held in suspension, some in solution." In fact, were we to fall into the habit of looking upon it and calling it poison, instead of sewage, and treating it as we do any other poison, one step, at least, will have been taken on the high-road to safety. Surely no civilized community ought knowingly to use water polluted, no matter in what degree, with such filth as this.

Denton says that from the report on the "Army and Navy Diet Scales" he finds that "the estimated quantity of liquid of all kinds drunk in the two services averages 18712 gallons per head per annum, or about two quarts per day. Though this quantity is drunk by adults of the male sex, it is some criterion of the quantity drunk by men, women, and children, and it will not be wrong to assume that two-thirds, or 125 gallons per head, is as much as is actually consumed by a mixed population in a year. Dr. Parkes says that an adult requires daily from seventy to one hundred ounces (three and a half to five pints) for nutrition, but about twenty to thirty ounces of this quantity are sometimes in the solid food." This is what we daily put in our mouths, and it certainly should be pure and sweet. In fact, one way or another, we are pretty much all water. It is said that "the model man weighs 154 pounds, of which 116 is water and only 38 pounds dry matter;" based on which fact, Edmond About has written a curious romance, "The Man with the Broken Ear." Water, then, is of all things the one most essential to our existence, and if three-quarters of our very bodies and a large part of our daily food are composed of this element, then, like Cæsar's wife, it should be "clear even of suspicion."

 

Although, perhaps, there is no special occasion for it in this connection, attention is invited, in the interest of accuracy, to the popular misuse of the term "water-shed." It is ordinarily employed to denote the area collecting the rainfall, and comprised between the highest and lowest points. Properly speaking, a "water-shed" is "the anticlinal ridge separating one river-basin from another." The highest crest-line of a ridge, therefore, is the water-shed; the lowest area in the valley up to the highest water-level is the water-basin; while the area between these (miscalled the water-shed) may be termed the "gathering-ground," or the "collecting slopes."