During the second half of the nineteenth century, water motors were widely used in Europe and America. These small water turbines were connected to the tap and could power any machine that is now driven by electricity.
As we have seen in a previous article, operating motors with tap water was not very sustainable. Because of the low and irregular water pressure of the town mains, these motors used unacceptably high amounts of drinking water.
While the use of water motors in the US came to an end early in the twentieth century, the Europeans found a solution for the high water use of water motors and took hydraulic power transmission one step further.
They set up special "power water" networks, which distributed water under pressure for motive power purposes only, and switched to a much higher and more regular water pressure, made possible by the invention of the hydraulic accumulator.
Almost all these power water networks remained in service until the 1960s and 1970s. Hydraulic power transmission is very efficient compared to electricity when it is used to operate powerful but infrequently used machines, which can be distributed over a geographical area the size of a city.