October 19, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Brussels has rediscovered its beloved river, the future “Green Corridor”

Brussels has rediscovered its beloved river, the future "Green Corridor"

(Brussels) For Baudelaire, in the 19th century, the Senne flowing in Brussels was “only a big toilet”. Covered with concrete, the now-cleaned river is now partially open to the sky to “bring nature back to the city”.


Matthew Demester
France Media Agency

About 100 km long, the Sennelo has about fifteen of the urban areas of Brussels, two-thirds of which are made of concrete formwork.

The new open section, which opened more than 200 meters on Tuesday, has not fundamentally changed its reputation as an invisible river.

But “this is a real paradigm shift; We do not plan to hide this watercourse anymore and we will give it back to the people of Brussels, “said Benjamin Thibax, project manager for the Brussels Environment Agency, a regional agency interviewed before the inauguration.

Behind him, the hand of an excavator lifts large dominoes of vegetable ingredients one by one and deposits them at the bottom of the river.

“These plant sausages contain aquatic plants that take root in the banks and regenerate biodiversity-friendly vegetation,” Mr. Thibox explained.

Sean aims to “regain its role as an ecological corridor, with water purified by plants” for fish and birds.

This “regenerative” process, which began with the first clean-up work ten years ago, is beginning to be felt by the people of Brussels.

Walk 600 meters

In the capital, the promenade along the Senne is currently only possible up to 600 meters in the southern Andrlech. By 2025, the park in the city center where the river flows will double with reconstruction.

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It is difficult to be more ambitious, as water-repellent concrete has become an urban infrastructure for many years (Grand Boulevards, Gare du Midi, etc.).

However, gradually, “the river is once again becoming a real source of water, a source of joy, relaxation and well-being,” said curator Ad Hendrick Underline at the Sewage Museum, one of the major locations specializing in the subject. Water in Brussels.

“This is not the public sewer of the Boudoir era,” the historian adds.

Senne’s sinful history gave a break to the life of the Belgian capital and its pests also infiltrated the poet’s works.

In the 1860s, Charles Baudelaire lived in Brussels for almost two years. It was an unpleasant period when the river was not protected against the Belgians.

“Garbage piles”

In Poor Belgium, Incomplete brochure, author Bad flowers Wrote: “The Farrow (a type of beer produced in Brussels, editor note) was taken from the large toilet, Senne; it was a drink extracted from the city’s excrement …”

Ad Hendrik described the mid-19th century as a crucial period for Sen.

Already polluted by emissions from local industries (textiles, printing works, breweries), the waterway is “twice as big” as it becomes a receptacle for a new sewage network created for wastewater management. It has already lost any waterway function due to the presence of a canal in Brussels.

“It’s not a river, it’s a river, low flow and too small to absorb this organic burden. At certain times of the year, the water turns very low, where garbage piles float and smell,” Mr said.To me Hendrick.

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This unreality does not match the aspiration of a modern and bourgeois city center unique to any large capital. It was time for the transformation of Paris by Baron Houseman. In Brussels, authorities opened a vast construction site for the Senne Treasury, completed 150 years ago in 1871.

With the establishment of two large sewage treatment plants it was only possible to rotate and develop “open skies” since the 2000s when “Mains Drainage” disappeared.