Now ‘black water’ is pumped into Olympics to flush out athletes’ loos

12:00 24 July 2012

Operator at Old Ford

Operator at Old Ford 'blackwater' recycle plant

Stewart Turkington

Recycled sewage is now being used in the Olympic Park Athletes’ village in east London to flush loos with water from a new state-of-the-art recycling treatment works in east London.

Thames Water’s Old Ford plant on the Lea riverbank uses new treatment processes to turn sewage into non-drinking ‘black water’ for irrigating greenery and flushing toilets.

Its daily output of 574,000 litres—enough for 80,000 flushes—goes into a separate pipe network from the mains tap water supply, helping reduce reliance on drinking-grade water for toilets by up to 58 per cent.

Thames Water’s Rupert Kruger said: “It’s amazing to think the world’s elite athletes are using recycled sewage sent down U-bends at homes in London just a day or so earlier, to flush loos at the greatest sporting event on earth.

“Water is still an increasingly precious resource, despite us lifting our hosepipe ban last month. The Old Ford plant is helping cope with future droughts with dual-purpose water supply networks.”

Sewage arrives in the Northern Outfall sewer, built by the Victorian engineer Joseph Bazalgette, which runs under Old Ford and past the Olympic Park to Beckton.

The average household flushing takes 36 hours to go into the Olympic Park non-drinking water network after treatment and cleaning at Old Ford, Britain’s largest ‘black water’ recycling plant—which has already pumped enough into the system to fill 10 Olympic swimming pools!

[Pictures: Stewart Turkington]

Latest Stories

Yesterday, 12:44
American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria (AP Photo/freejamesfoley.org, Nicole Tung, File)

The SAS is closing in on the man known as ‘John’, suspected of being from London, who brutally executed US journalist James Foley.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:10
Ishak Ayiris is set to study at Eton College.  Photograph by Lucy Ray

A schoolboy who secured top marks in his GCSEs is set to follow in the footsteps of David Cameron and Boris Johnson after winning a scholarship to Eton worth £76,000.

Read more
Yesterday, 18:49
The student was caught trying to board a flight at Stansted Airport with eight flares in his luggage (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

A student from north London was caught trying to board a plane at Stansted Airport with eight explosive flares and a terrorist manual.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

James Bond is Britain’s most famous secret agent, and the capital is its most famous city, so it makes sense that 007 would live and work here when he isn’t gallivanting around the world.

Read more
Can you find the animals hiding in London station names? (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

You may not realise it but there are animals hiding in stations across London? Play our quiz and see if you can you find them:

Read more
Can you guess the Tube station just from the outside? (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

How well do you know your Tube stations? Can you guess these Underground stops from the pictures taken outside them?

Read more