Wednesday 22 January 2020

'Stinking' Berlin canal soon fit for swimmers

The Spree Canal in Berlin
The Spree Canal in Berlin

Justin Huggler

An ambitious project is under way to transform a polluted canal in central Berlin into an urban swimming area.

Today the Spree Canal is a murky stretch of water that winds its way around the back of the city's famous Museum Island. Built to relieve congestion on the Spree river, it's closed to shipping and known locally as the Kot d'Azur - a play on the German word for excrement - because the sewers overflow into the canal after heavy rain, leaving it stinking.

But Flussbad Berlin, a team of engineers, scientists and activists led by two brothers believe they can transform the Spree Canal into a clean and safe swimming area using natural reed beds as a filtration system. Tim Edler, one of the brothers behind the scheme, said that in eight to 10 years, the first swimmers will be able to dive in. The scientists think they can solve this problem using natural cleaning methods alone.

A 400-yard stretch of the canal upstream from the swimming area will be transformed into a natural filtration system to provide what the scientists describe as "microbiological cleaning".

Irish Independent

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