Conventional Wastewater Treatment

Hamburg's wastewater management system based on gravity sewers goes back to the British engineer William Lindley. Gravity sewers require large amounts of water to transport the faeces together with other wastewater to the central wastewater treatment plant. Until the mid of the 19th century Hamburg's citizens disposed off their wastewater in the streets and contaminated the drinking water sources Elbe and Alster. This resulted in serious epidemics. After the great fire in 1842 Lindley designed the first sewers in Hamburg - and thus the oldest in continental Europe. Together with the redesign of the drinking water supply the hygienic conditions improved and diseased like cholera, which rapidly spread through contaminated water are now eradicated.

Due to the constant extension of the sewer system Hamburg's wastewater now flows through about 5,500 kilometers of sewers to the treatment plant Köhlbrandhöft/Dradenau. There, 450,000 cubic meters of wastewater - equalling about 2.9 million population equivalents - are daily treated. This central plant is one of the largest and most modern in Germany.

After treatment the clean water is discharged into the river Elbe. Also nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen are removed. These nutrients are indispensible for agriculture, yet harmful in water. Nutrients like phosphorus and potassium are only finite resources and are usually not recovered in conventional wastewater treatment.

HAMBURG WASSER aims at closing these loops with energy-efficient technologies and sustainable concepts. For this reason the company has developed the HAMBURG WATER Cycle® as an innovative and holistic wastewater and energy concept, which efficiently can be integrated into the existing system. The HAMBURG WATER Cycle® offers a concept for decentralised wastewater management recovering nutrients and generating renewable energy.