Jaama pudrett ehk Miks Tartu sai veevärgi nii hilja
The Tartu Poudrette factory or Why the Water
Supply System in Tartu was constructed so late
At times the sanitary problems grew quite grave in the fast growing cities of the 19th century. Technology and medicine also developed swiftly but it was not always that the different fields provided support to each other at the right time and according to necessity.
The University of Tartu is known as an innovative centre of medicine. The city had been studied by chemists (e.g., the research on the wells of Tartu by Carl Schmidt), physicians (medical topography already since the early 19th century), demographers (biostatisticians),etc. Considering this, it is somewhat surprising that the sanitary conditions in Tartu were rather poor at length even for those times. The University constructed its own water supply system already in 1889
but institutions and classes were unable to reach an agreement with regard to the city water supply. The newly emergent body of active Estonians responsible for building the grand and modern Vanemuine theatre house was willing to live in quite modest conditions in view of hygiene.
In order to solve the city’s issue of human waste a Poudrette factory was built on the territory of the Jaama city estate in 1866. This solution was somewhat outdated already then. The factory produced a fertilizer mix of dry night soil, which sold quite well. Gustav Post, the lessee and later owner, became a rich man. The factory was municipalized
even before WW I and it developed to be a substantial
source of income for the city in independent Estonia. Tartu was the only city in Estonia where this part of the city’s economy brought a profit. This is likely one of the reasons why a water supply system that covered the entire city was built only in the 1930s in Tartu.