The Info List - London Sewerage System

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The LONDON SEWERAGE SYSTEM is part of the water infrastructure serving 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
Thames Water
and serves almost all of Greater London


* 1 History

* 2 Modern development needs

* 2.1 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 Octagon at Crossness showing its elaborate decorative ironwork, which was heavily influenced by Moorish imagery

During the early 19th century the River Thames
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 sewerage system.

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
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
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
Portland cement
strengthened the tunnels, which were in good order 150 years later.

allows the sewage to flow eastwards, but in places such as Chelsea , 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 Crossness .

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
Thames Estuary
and the North Sea
North Sea


The new 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 London
Docklands 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 -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

* ^ 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. Retrieved 2011-09-30. * ^ 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 June 2009. * ^ Lee Tunnel, Thames Water. Accessed 2011-07-20.


* Trench, R. and Hillman, E. (1984) London
Under London: A Subterranean Guide (London: John Murray).