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3 Types of Plumbing Systems & The History of Memphis Plumbing

Even though there are a few main types of plumbing systems, they serve two purposes: Bringing water in for use and removing wastewater of any type to prevent contamination.

The three plumbing systems are: Sanitary drainage, stormwater drainage, and potable water. A reputable plumber should be licensed, insured, and trained to handle both commercial and residential plumbing services according to local regulations.

Sanitary Drainage

After the water has been used, where does it go?

It’s common for rural homes to have individual septic tanks for the water, but municipal systems redirect wastewater to a sewer system.

Pipes within a sanitary drainage system are meant specifically for handling wastewater from:

  • Laundry
  • Cooking
  • Garbage disposals
  • Human waste

In general, homeowners are responsible for the sewer line running between their house and the connection at the street. The County or City is responsible for sewer lines underneath the streets.

Memphis Sanitary & Stormwater Drainage History

Back in the early 1800s, Memphis had a very poor drainage system (and a reputation for it) that was causing yellow fever bouts. The City realized something needed to be done if it were to survive. By 1983, there were more than 50 miles of sewers for both sanitary and stormwater. This was the beginning of a pure water supply, along with the separation of drainage systems.

Today, the current sanitary drainage system carries used wastewater from both homes and businesses to a treatment facility. The water is cleaned before being released into the Mississippi River.

After the drainage systems were implemented in Memphis, structures began developing, like concrete roads, parking structures, and flood protection measures. These structures, while essential for Memphis, also created more water runoff when it rains or snows.

At this point, stormwater drainage was necessary to redirect water runoff away from buildings.

Stormwater Drainage

In the past, rainwater that traveled into a storm drain would then go through to a sanitary drainage system. Now, rainwater goes to storm sewers via the stormwater drainage systems are what you’ll find on roadsides, such as:

  • Curb inlets, gutters, and swales
  • Catch basins and manholes
  • Ditches, pipes, and channels

Lakes, ponds, and sinkholes are also drainage systems, both natural and manmade.

The stormwater drainage system in Memphis is designed specifically for the layout of Memphis and Shelby Counties, considering the high and low points as well as the different structures within. It carries rainwater directly into a close body of water without treating it, which is why it’s important not to dump pollutants into storm drains – it contaminates local ecosystems.

Potable Water

When you think about plumbing systems, the initial answer that comes to mind is likely the system that provides your home’s water. Life would be much more complicated if you had to worry about whether your water is pure all the time.

Memphis is the largest city in the country to rely solely on groundwater. And it’s a local marvel that allows for less expensive water that’s easily accessible.

History of the Sweetest Water in the World

Memphis has long been known to rely on its groundwater for drinking supplies, rather than pulling water from the Mississippi River or other sources.

It’s the reason big names like Coors came to the city, and Viral Antigens Inc., the company responsible for more than 95% of the rubella vaccine in the U.S.

Withdrawing from around 250 wells that hold more than 100 trillion gallons of rainwater, the Memphis Aquifer lies nearly 350 feet beneath downtown Memphis. These wells are commonly referred to as artesian wells because they release built-up pressure to bring water up through the sands for collection.

Aquifer Example

Thought to have been rainfall from over 2,000 years ago, the water has very few minerals to treat for. Through this natural filtration system, water pulls through a layer of quartz granules. These granules, known as “the Memphis sands,” are extremely pure, protected by layers of clay and the 850-foot-thick aquifer.

Potable water systems bring clean water from the aquifer to a community water main, which then leads pipes into a structure. Once the water gets to a building, it then distributes to individual fixtures through a system of pipes, and voila, you have clean water.

A Reliable Resource for Your Plumbing Services

Even though plumbing systems are incredibly convenient, every system needs maintenance occasionally. Fortunately, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Memphis is readily available to assist home and business owners, keeping plumbing systems working smoothly no matter the issue.

Call (901) 410-5706 or reach out online with any concerns!