Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Musee des Egouts de Paris

So where did I go, what is this Musee des Egouts you may wonder? Well it is the sewer museum, where you can walk through a working sewer system. It is pretty well set-up, with English brochures and the signage is also in English (as well as French) and it also doesn't really smell that bad at all. In fact for the majority of the visit there was no unpleasant smell at all, though I did avoid the water dripping from the ceiling, there was only one moment just before the exit when I got a whiff of something pretty bad, that could have been the stuff floating in the water though. I won't elaborate any further on that. Anyway if you have some spare time in Paris and feel like a different experience I do recommend it, it's pretty cheap too.

You are walking over flowing sewer water and they explain to you how the sewer system has changed through the ages. From 4 BC when a small tribe lived on the islands in the Seine to modern Paris. For quite a long time all the waste water just flowed straight back into the Seine and it managed to cope with this for a surprising amount of time, considering everyone was taking their drinking water from there as well. Eventually though the ecological balance shifted and the Seine could no longer filter the waste, so the raw sewerage was then spread on fields and used to grow vegetables, which apparently people commented on their stupendous size and taste (not sure what their comments were on the taste though). When there were too many people in Paris for even that to work they began filtering the waste water. Apparently they now filter 100% of their waste water, I'm not sure if that includes storm run-off though, it would be impressive if it did.

I didn't get heaps of photos here, which perhaps you are thankful for, but I got some of the machinery they use to flush out the sewers. There is a big problem with sediment (they said sand, though perhaps it is something else?) collecting in the bottom of the sewers and clogging them up, so they use a variety of boats and balls to create large water pressure at the base of the sewer to force the sediment along. This ball is designed to sit up the top of the sewer, thus creating large pressure underneath where all the sediment is.

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