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Home Argentine History Buenos Aires goes through the spout: history of water and sewage

Buenos Aires goes through the spout: history of water and sewage

Buenos Aires hygiene has been one of the major problems since the founding of Juan de Garay. From the “waters go” to the toilets, the sewage network was just completed in 1987. 400 years of smells and professions forgotten? in the meanders of the city.


“All the inhabitants of Buenos Aires have ingenuity and are friendly,” the 18th century travelers highlighted in the survey of Daisy Rípodas Ardanaz, when only three thousand inhabitants were reached,  “but there is a repeated defect until they become topical, something that - shakes these men and women: the laziness, which leads whites to despise manual labors, and to settle for the essential”, prevails the law of least effort amid the abundance of meat, horses, fresh water and thousands of peaches. Even the city grew pointing to Bajo for comfort and proximity to the precarious port, where the hangover and waste were gathered... that the population expected to take the tide . Zanjones such as those of Matorras y Granaderos, a few blocks from the current Plaza de Mayo, full of filth and so much, the Riachuelo as the first citizen garbage, made travelers in 1830 describe the city of good air of  Don Pedro de Mendoza , “ no one ever saw a more unpleasant place like Buenos Aires, emphasizing the street mud, the rotten belly in it, which gave smells disgusting until dogs or rats had killed the corpse of beef or equine” in a postcard that did not exclude marshes, one very famous in present-day Maipú and Perón who had swallowed horsemen and horses, and hollows full of urines and feces that the porteños simply threw without looking at  who (this practice was only banned with cholera pests and yellow fever in the 1870s Even washed meat with urines until 1864 so as not to gather water from the cistern!)  This landscape began to change with  the 1980s,  and the strong decision of the Buenos Aires to turn their city into the north of a country, and sewage and storm works delayed in to complete almost a century of winding public and private investments. Something smells bad about the Reina del Plata.  

Everything was conspiring, undulating land that made it difficult to leveling houses and streets, internal rivers that served as garbage, and the inexplicable lack of forecasting drains, so that the  urban environment was inhospitable by grime, disorder and individual apathy prevailing, despite of the constant efforts of viceroys and then national governments since 1810. Rivadavia was the first to really care about public hygiene and hired a French hydraulic engineer to deal with running water and drains of Buenos Aires in the times of the water tanks and reservoirs attached to the blind wells (today's amusement park of the arches and reservoirs) oacute; urban logos every time it is digged in the Historic Centre, as the porteños threw much more than the garbage and the vessel at night) But it was only two years later when Rivadavia was no longer in government, although it was not Claudio Pellegrini, but Carlos Pellegrini, future founding painter of argentine art. Anyway he presented in 1829 a visionary plan of “clarified waters” that remained in nowhere. In 1850 a plan devised by Pellegrini of plumbing and reservoirs Reserva, by the owners of Molino San Francisco (in the descent of Alsina and Paseo Colón) rises unsuccessfully to Rosas, in the first modern antecedent of a water network. It would take almost twenty years for the  4th of April 1869 to open the barrel in the center and south of Buenos Aires,  and the precious liquid could reach the houses clean — and to the carts of los aguateros, which would remain an image of Buenos Aires until well into the twentieth century.  The sewers were missing but a first step was given thanks to the father of Argentine water technification, the Irish engineer John Coghlan.  

 Coghlan-Bateman-Bateman-Devotee. Private and public in the public works porteña... 

It went straight from the latrine to the sewer — first thought as a rain matter — due to the advances of the latest sanitary engineering during the industrial revolution, “the century of the bathroom”, which sought to attenuate the focus of pests and miseries of the crowded european cities. Thus in imitation bombs, siphons and high density spout were distributed over the urban radius, with the joy of the porteños who did not know if they were public works, or trenches of secessionists Mitre or Tejedor.  Coghlan, who had come to work on the English railways, and who would be the financiers of this first water network in conjunction with Baring Brothers (incidentally), presented a plan that only covered less than a thousand blocks in a first stage, little for a city of 180 thousand inhabitants, and that took water from the bottom of Recoleta — the building built there, which housed the initial filters and pumps, would be from 1933 the National Museum of Fine Arts . But the political swings, which were in fact the ones that prompted the brand new municipality of Buenos Aires to search for private companies that are in charge of works of magnitude, gradually paralyze the necessary sewage works, which would go simultaneously, to the current waters started between 1874 and 1880. At that time the figure of engineer John Bateman, hired by Sarmiento for a frustrated port, was growing and who also presented a drainage plan, drainage sewer systems and water supply (copied from Coghlan's project), harshly questioned by senators such as Vicente López, “have raised budgets... longing only for the conclusion of a very valuable and lucrative contract for him,” they closed the numbers that tripled to those of Coghlan, and who would resign from the municipality denouncing “negotiated” But he was finally granted the work in 1871, under  Sarmiento's presidency  , and Bateman built the first sewage network in Buenos Aires at a distance in the historic center.   In the distance because he left Jorge Higgins in charge and returned to London with two million pounds sterling... and the sewers just came into operation in the mid-1890s, with the first 22,000 buildings supplying 100,000 porteños compared to 700 thousand in a village I dreamed of in the city. As the bomb in the Riachuelo delayed to operate — and continues to carry waste to Berazategui — the sinks, pipes and temporary wells were uncovered until the end of the 20th century by workers in stinking atmospheric cars. There appear the “sewers”, and their competition in the search for “prizes” in the urban bowels, “the sewer plums”, ghosts of the real under the background of Buenos Aires.

 Finally, there were Antonio Devoto the great works of health from 1882.   This multifaceted Italian businessman, maker of Argentina, landowner, banker, industrialist, colonizer, founder of the Italian Hospital,  Club Italiano , Villa Devoto, and who put 500 thousand pesos out of his pocket for save the country in the crisis of 1890 — and many times more sustained public finances and encouraged tax policies for those who made the most profits in the countryside and industries, a patriot who understood that no one can want the bankruptcy of the Argentine state... -,  could finally be able to connect the sewer network in 1889 with an ambitious plan that was divided into three simultaneous stages, the sewer network in the Buenos Aires radio, the second the drain pipe to the south of Quilmes and the third to the supply of current water . Only in June 1949, thirty-three years after Devoto's death, and with the Wilde Establishment, a giant health engineering company was completed, which has jewels such as the Great  Gravitation Deposit of Cordoba Avenue and Ayacucho, today Palacio de Aguas Corrientes, inaugurated in 1894, “in its construction Devoto wanted to use materials from the country but decided to import them because they were less expensive” , says Ángel Prignano, “ended up opting for majolica and varnished brick, for the cladding of the perimeter external... 300,000 pieces brought from Europe. The roofs were covered with green slate brought from the already exhausted quarries of Sedan, France”, or the still active semi-urgent wells of Belgrano and Flores. The connection process was slow and, even in the second decade of the last century, only 40% were networked. And blind wells still existed in the middle of the urban area despite the 1895 ban, and the 1891 obligation to build home  sewers: the porteños continued to throw waste and miscellaneous waste anywhere, despite the severe fines that ruled from the Rosas era.   Few pulled the chain and the toilet Jenning, the model we know, was a rarity, “about 3199 houses only 91 have the English toilet,” testifies hygienist Emilio R. Coni.  Only in 1987 it reached the current water and sewage service to all residents of the city, at least 2,922,400 in the last census.  

 I got here, old lady! I'm a sewer!  

“It is surprising the things that are found in sewers,”  said the “sewers”, a Buenos Aires profession that began with the extension of sinks, septic chambers and plumbing,  those that took decades to function properly because of the countless usual marches and setbacks of public works in Buenos Aires — and Argentina, “you can mention animals... precious stones, wires, rags, unusual stones... horseshoes... pieces of pipes and even gas meters... recently a portfolio with 9 thousand pesos has been restored to its owner”, collected an astonished chronicler of the magazine PBT in 1905. The sewers were fundamental in the cleanings of the end of the year and their presence, with the atmospheric cart thrown on horseback, an essential service next to the sweepers or the police “The humble sewer /forgiving the expression/aromas of the heart/gives haughty and very sincere with your congratulation& rdquo; he romanticized a popular couplet of the nineteen hundred, rescued by Conrado Nalé Roxlo, and that recognized the slaughtered workers who descended into the intestines of Buenos Aires.  Sometimes they hit a good scare on some fuzzy, silent beings in the tunnels, the mythical “sewer plums” Denied by the authorities of any municipal administration,  were indeed people who were looking for “pricking” on the “erase & rdquo; or “stew” of the porteños waste the “glitters”, rings, hoops, medals, jewelry, watches, money and weapons.  One of these cartoneros in the bottom claims to have found a 38-gram figure of the Virgin of Luján, according to Mauricio Carini in the newspaper La Nación, and in a very close 1988. Several of these objects were bought —and the names of their owners—were bought at the jewelers on Libertad Street.  This chronicle also recounts other objects found in sewers less pleasant as human remains everywhere.

“He called his area  Picadilly Circus and one of his cabins  Buckingham Palace.   Dorys, apart from the rake rake and its trench, had only one belonging: a broken, groped and unclean tome of Shakespeare's complete works,” appeared in the daily Tiempo Argentino in 1986 of the pen of the great writer Alberto Laiseca, “Reciting long pieces of memory for... who came to hear the Queen — she insisted that she was heiress to the throne — and her wonders incomprehensible... at the end of her days alone before the rats,” back, imperfect oracles. Third scene  of these play.   The Bard... bad lightning goes to that victoria racheora cheat — “rucking” was raking looking for “shine” in the filth; Victoria was the nineteenth queen... eating  bunny e' spout  — or as they said to the big rats and they were the main sustenance of sewer plumes- in  Buckingham ...  inside death's runics, you know (Shakespeare dixit)... out of Victoria's minions” recovers from witnesses in the fifties, the author of the monumental “The Sorias” An inspiration perhaps from the Old Man of “The Sewer” (2019), the an unforged novel by Buenos Aires Guillermo Ferreyro, and awarded in Mexico, about the initial journey of a young man through the sewers of Arroyo Maldonado, against the backdrop of the violence of the seventies and Malvinas.  For the usual porteños, the rivers hidden under our feet, stories that can not be bounced without further, will be a source of fuzzling sensations and smells.  

Sources: Prignano, Á.  The toilet and its connections. The indiscreet history of the place which, by common, excused is to name it . Buenos Aires: Bibos. 2007; Herz, E.  History of water in Buenos Aires . Buenos Aires: Cuadernos de Buenos Aires. 1979; Cottini, A.  Vespasianas, toilets and other scents  in magazine Todo es Historia Julio 1979 No. 146. Buenos Aires.

Publication Date: 11/02/2021

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By: Clau Pas 11 February, 2021

Guacalaaa la nota😆 lo pior es q la lei😂

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