By the middle of the 19th century, London was on the brink of an environmental catastrophe. The city was growing rapidly in terms of population and size, and the old ways of supplying water, burying the dead and disposing of sewage were rapidly becoming inadequate.
Little was done until the 'Great Stink' of 1858 offended Members of Parliament. Over the following seven years, Joseph Bazalgette and the Metropolitan Board of Works constructed a simple but immense sewage disposal system for London, an awesome feat for the time. London still relies on Bazalgette's sewers.