chapter  11
8 Pages


At the centre of this study has been a series of reports on the historical context and outcomes of civil court actions for a set of Victorian towns in each one of which an example of the river pollution dilemma and its consequences has been shown. The cases have illustrated the process of increasing urbanisation and requirements for better sanitation for town-dwellers, including for the many ill-housed urban poor, that had produced new and expanded sewer networks, but had also resulted in the offensive defilement of local rivers from the resultant outflows of sewage effluent. Numbers of complaints from affected parties downriver produced a sizeable volume of actions at civil law for nuisance brought against the responsible sewage and sanitary authorities – and the complainants ranged from millers, through comfortable middle-class professionals, to small and large farmers and aristocratic landowners. Typically, we have seen the civil courts finding the towns liable under nuisance and issuing injunctive orders requiring abatement of the nuisance.