Residents Raise a Stink Over Plans to Fix London's Sewers

London's wastewater problems go at least as far back as the 19th century, before a 1,100-mile system of tunnels was built to divert the city's waste downstream. A plan to fix that system with a tunnel financed by customer fees is raising a stink.

"Built for a city half London’s current size...the [Victorian era sewer] system is now overflowing," reports Julia Werdigier. "As often as once a week, raw sewage is forced into the Thames, a sharp change from the 19th century, when the newly built system overflowed less than once a year."

"The increasing flow of raw sewage — the result of the loss of green spaces to absorb rainwater as much as population gain — violates European environmental law, the European Commission said in 2009, and the government has promised to act."

"But in an era of austerity and strained budgets, it is not the government that is paying the $6.6 billion bill but Thames Water, a private company with shareholders," she adds. "There is a catch, of course: it is actually the customers of Thames Water who are paying for the project with higher water bills, a prospect almost as horrendous to today’s Londoners as the river’s stench was to their 19th-century forebears."

Full Story: Plan Aims to Fix Sewers, but Its Cost to Residents Leaves a Bad Taste

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