On 4 January 1876, the first meeting of the Christchurch Drainage Board took place.
Two years earlier, Christchurch had achieved the unflattering title of being the unhealthiest city in New Zealand. We also had the highest death rate as diseases such as Typhoid were rife. The population of Christchurch at that time was 12,000 people.
With the passing of the Christchurch District Drainage Act, a board was formed to improve the drainage of the city and the disposing of sewage. Unbelievably, most of the city’s waste water was being drained into the Avon and Heathcote Rivers, both of which were still being used by some to bathe in!
The city’s first drainage engineer, Mr. Carruthers, suggested an underground sewer which was met with a thumbs down by rate players as the system would be expensive and pump houses weren’t wanted.
Despite public opinion, the city’s first pump house – situated in Tuam Street and pictured here – began operating in 1882. The next problem the city faced was getting people to actually use the sewer system that was now in place! By 1889, Christchurch was considered the healthiest city in New Zealand.
* Image courtesy of Envirohistory NZ http://envirohistorynz.com/