(Bloomberg) — London sewers hosted royalty today as Prince Charles descended down the capital’s deepest tunnel to mark 150
years since the sewerage network opened.
The heir to the British crown visited the newly completed
Lee Tunnel and Abbey Mills pumping station, which Charles’s
great-great-grandfather King Edward VII opened in 1865. The Lee
Tunnel, a 635 million-pound ($980 million) extension to London’s
sewer system, is expected to start funneling effluent by
December, Thames Water Utilities Ltd. said.
The 4-mile (7-kilometer), 75-meter-deep (246 feet) tunnel
beneath east London’s Newham borough from Abbey Mills to the
Beckton sewage-treatment works that was seen by the Prince of
Wales, who’s president of WaterAid, forms part of Thames Water’s
plans to clean polluted waters in the U.K.’s biggest city while
modernizing and expanding the Victorian-era waste network.
Designed by engineer Joseph Bazalgette after the “Great
Stink” of 1858, the system made to serve 2 million Londoners
and help curb water-related diseases like cholera is now used by
more than 6 million. That means about 39 million tons of
excrement and waste spill into the Thames River every year.
“The Lee Tunnel has just been completed at Abbey Mills and
this, along with the extensions and improvements at the five
sewage works which discharge into the tidal river and the Thames
Tideway Tunnel, due to begin construction next year, will
greatly improve London’s great river for wildlife and people
alike,” Martin Baggs, chief executive officer of Thames Water,
said in a statement.
The capital’s waste and water utility was given the
developmental go-ahead for the Thames Tideway “super sewer” in
September. The 15-mile, 24-foot-wide tunnel is estimated to take
seven years to complete and will cost about 4.2 billion pounds.
Today’s proceedings took place a day after Thames Water was
fined 220,000 pounds for allowing partially treated sewage to
enter the River Blackwater in Surrey.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Louise Downing in London at