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A Drink from the Tap

Wonderful water! It came from the comets and from under the Earth, and life would be impossible without it. Around and around the world it goes, in an age old cycle that is driven by the sun.

Every molecule we draw from our taps was once in the sea, in a cloud, a raindrop, a river, and probably a reservoir. Having established the endlessly repeating journey of water, we home in on the filter wheel at the pumping station, where dead fish are removed from the rain and river water that man has collected.

Fish free, the water is made even cleaner by air - tiny bubbles that are pushed up from the bottom of a tank. The dirt gathers around the bubbles to float up as a filthy grey scum that can be scraped away.

The next level of filtering is done by carbon granules at the bottom of gravity tanks. The water that leaves these tanks is clean enough to drink, and kept free from bugs by a dash of chlorine. And then off the water goes to our houses for drinking, washing, and flushing.

But what happens to the used water that goes down our drains? In the old days we used to pipe this sewage straight back into the rivers and the sea, but nowadays we try to clean the dirty water before letting it go, and this is the job of the sewage farm.

Friendly bacteria form the backbone of a modern sewage works. They help to transform the dirt within our waste water into something that is not only less toxic but really good for spraying on the fields where we grow our crops. And so we see how, with just a little bit of cunning, we are able to turn our effluent into a nourishing slurry and extract from it water that is clean enough to be pumped straight back into a grateful environment.

Duration: 5:22

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This film is also available on the DVD:
'The Magic of Making - Volume 3'.