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Major upgrade for 160-year-old Victorian sewer in UK’s capital

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A giant Victorian sewer in East London is being upgraded as Thames Water continues its investment in infrastructure across the capital.
The work is being carried out at the Northern Outfall Sewer and a temporary 7.5-ton weight restriction is being placed to keep the engineers safe as they work below ground.
The sewer comprises eight huge pipes, each around 1.6 metres high and 2.4 metres wide. Wastewater flows through at a rate of up to 20,000 litres per second.
Richard Smith, Thames Water project manager, said: “The Northern Outfall Sewer is just one of the many thousands of miles of sewers built by the Victorians across London.
“Their engineering is truly incredible, but climate change and population growth are putting huge pressures on this ageing network.
“The Northern Outfall Sewer supplies Europe’s largest sewage works at Beckton, which treats the waste of more than four million Londoners, so we need to make sure the pipes continue providing this vital service for at least another 160 years.
Beckton Sewage Works forms a key part of London’s new super-sewer, the Thames Tideway Tunnel.
When it opens in 2025, the 15-mile-long tunnel will intercept at least 94 per cent of the millions of tonnes of sewage that overflows into the Thames every year, cleaning up the river for Londoners who enjoy it, and the wildlife which relies on it.