Plumbing, system of pipes and fixtures installed in a building for the
distribution and use of potable (drinkable) water and the removal of
waterborne wastes. It is usually distinguished from water and sewage
systems that serve a group of buildings or a city.
One of the problems of every civilization in which the population has been centralized in cities and towns has been the development of adequate plumbing systems. In certain parts of Europe the complex aqueducts built by the Romans to supply their cities with potable water can still be seen. However, the early systems built for the disposal of human wastes were less elaborate. Human wastes were often transported from the cities in carts or buckets or else discharged into an open, water-filled system of ditches that led from the city to a lake or stream.