The LONDON SEWERAGE SYSTEM is part of the water infrastructure
London , England. The modern system was developed during the
late 19th century, and as
London has grown the system has been
expanded. It is currently owned and operated by
Thames Water and
serves almost all of Greater
* 1 History
* 2 Modern development needs
Thames Tideway Scheme
* 3 Literary or media references
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 References
* 7 External links
The original Abbey Mills pumping station Interior of the
Crossness showing its elaborate decorative ironwork, which
was heavily influenced by Moorish imagery
During the early 19th century the
River Thames was an open sewer,
with disastrous consequences for public health in
London , including
cholera epidemics. These were caused by enterotoxin -producing strains
of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Although the contamination of the
water supply was correctly diagnosed by Dr John Snow in 1849 as the
method of communication, it was believed that miasma , or smell, was
responsible right up to the outbreak of 1866. Proposals to modernise
the sewerage system had been made during 1856, but were neglected due
to lack of funds. However, after the
Great Stink of 1858, Parliament
realised the urgency of the problem and resolved to create a modern
Joseph Bazalgette , a civil engineer and Chief Engineer of the
Metropolitan Board of Works , was given responsibility for the work.
He designed an extensive underground sewerage system that diverted
waste to the
Thames Estuary , downstream of the main centre of
population. Six main interceptor sewers, totalling almost 160 km (100
miles) in length, were constructed, some incorporating stretches of
London\'s "lost" rivers . Three of these sewers were north of the
river, the southernmost, low-level one being incorporated in the
Thames Embankment . The Embankment also allowed new roads, new public
gardens, and the Circle line of the
London Underground . Victoria
Embankment was finally officially opened on 13 July 1870.
The intercepting sewers, constructed between 1859 and 1865, were fed
by 450 miles (720 km) of main sewers that, in turn, conveyed the
contents of some 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of smaller local sewers.
Construction of the interceptor system required 318 million bricks,
2.7 million cubic metres of excavated earth and 670,000 cubic metres
of concrete . The innovative use of
Portland cement strengthened the
tunnels, which were in good order 150 years later.
Gravity allows the sewage to flow eastwards, but in places such as
Deptford and Abbey Mills , pumping stations were built to
raise the water and provide sufficient flow. Sewers north of the
Thames feed into the
Northern Outfall Sewer
Northern Outfall Sewer , which feeds into a major
treatment works at
Beckton . South of the river, the Southern Outfall
Sewer extends to a similar facility at
During the 20th century, major improvements were made to the sewerage
system and to the sewage treatment provision to substantially reduce
pollution of the
Thames Estuary and the
North Sea .
MODERN DEVELOPMENT NEEDS
Abbey Mills Pumping Station
The original system was designed to cope with 6.5 mm (1/4") per hour
of rainfall within the catchment area, and supported a smaller
population than today's. London's growth has put pressure on the
capacity of the sewerage system. During storms, for example, high
levels of rainfall (in excess of 6 mm per hour) in a short period of
time can overwhelm the system. Sewers and treatment works are unable
to cope with the large volumes of rainwater entering the system.
Rainwater mixes with sewage in combined sewers and excess mixed water
is discharged into the Thames. If this does not happen quickly enough,
localised flooding occurs (surcharge). Such sanitary sewer overflow
can mean streets becoming flooded with a mixture of water and sewage,
causing a health risk.
In redeveloping the
Isle of Dogs and
Royal Docks areas of east London
during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the
Development Corporation invested in major new drainage infrastructure
to manage future sewage and surface water run-off from proposed
developments. Consulting engineer Sir William Halcrow
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* ^ Cadbury, Deborah (2003). Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.
London and New York: Fourth Estate. pp. 165–6, 189–192.
* ^ Cadbury 2003 , pp. 194–196.
* ^ Baker, Margaret (2002). Discovering
London Statues and
Monuments. Osprey Publishing. p. 125. ISBN 9780747804956 .
* ^ Goodman, David C. and Chant, Colin (1999). European Cities and
Technology (London: Routledge).
* ^ Cadbury 2003 , p. 183.
* ^ Royal Docks, LDDC Completion Booklet, 1998
* ^ "Pumping Station" – An \'Architectural Primer\', John Outram.
* ^ Brown, Paul (10 April 2004). "£2bn tunnel to carry sewage
under Thames". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 June 2009.
* ^ "London\'s new sewer". Metro. UK. 22 March 2007. Retrieved 11
* ^ Lee Tunnel, Thames Water. Accessed 2011-07-20.
* Trench, R. and Hillman, E. (1984)
London Under London: A
Subterranean Guide (London: John Murray).