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]

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