Journey through time in the Emscher region
Over the course of the last two centuries, the face of the Emscher has changed dramatically a number of times. An untamed river through a sparsely populated landscape became a straightened, open wastewater channel through a densely populated industrial region. Now the face of the Emscher is changing for a third time. In future, the main and subsidiary waterways will again become near-natural bodies of water in a region that has mastered the transition from a heavy industry location into a location for services and high technology. Experience the change in the Emscher step by step in a virtual journey through time.
The Emscher around the turn of the century. Since the beginning of industrialisation, the Emscher has no longer been an idyllic little river. When there are floods, entire city districts are regularly inundated with contaminated water. The results are major damage, sickness, and epidemics.
New channel for the Emscher
The lining of the Emscher to form a regulated, artificial river began in 1906. The EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT built a new channel at the mouth of the river: the "Little Emscher" from Oberhausen to Walsum. At the same time, the lining work continues along the entire Emscher, together with the construction of numerous bridges, e.g. the Zweigertbrücke in Essen-Karnap.
The pumping station in Duisburg-Beeck
After the mouth of the Emscher was moved to Walsum, the original course of the river mouth section is only used for draining Duisburg North. In 1914, the first EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT pumping station is built for the area of the cut-off "Old Emscher". The architecturally very sophisticated Old Emscher pumping station in Duisburg-Beeck has a circular form, and is designed by the renowned architect Alfred Fischer.
Regulation of the course of the Emscher
The work to regulate the Emscher over a length of 77 km took until 1927. The subsidiary waterways were also lined: a total of 223 km of open sewers were created throughout the entire region.
Wastewater treatment plant in Bottrop
The first Emscher river wastewater treatment plant commenced operation in 1928 at the location of what is today the Bottrop wastewater treatment plant. This is the location where the Boye flows into the Emscher, as its largest tributary. The gigantic mechanical wastewater treatment plant was in operation until the start of the 1990s.
Severe damage to the Emscher building
The Emscher building on Kronprinzenstraße in Essen had been the office of the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT since 1906. In 1945, the building was severely damaged in air raids. Bombs that exploded in the building destroyed amongst other things the laboratory and the library. Today parts of the Emscher building are classified as listed monuments.
Dyke bursts in Essen
On 8 February 1946, a dyke breaks on the Emscher in Essen North. A flood wave tears away the dyke over a length of 50 m, resulting in flooding in Essen-Karnap and Gelsenkirchen-Horst.
Mining subsidence means that Emscher needs to be relocated to the north for a second time during the 40s. On 4 October 1949, the new river mouth section is officially opened in Oberhausen. Our image shows the new river mouth structure in Dinslaken — still without water — shortly before opening. Many onlookers have gathered.
Economic upturn brings higher volumes of wastewater
Adaptation to the changing economic conditions and continuous improvement of the existing infrastructure: these are the key themes that characterise the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT after the end of the actual reconstruction process. Economic and demographic effects shaped this phase.
Emschermündung wastewater treatment plant — largest wastewater treatment plant in Europe commences operation
The main project of the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT within the 30 years after the war was the planning and construction of a new large wastewater treatment plant at the new mouth of the Emscher into the Rhine in Dinslaken. The objective was to significantly improve the water of the Rhine, because at that time the Rhine was considered the most polluted waterway in Europe. Continuous renovation work has since ensured that the purification capacity, which back then was already extraordinary, has been maintained at a high level.
Dortmund-Huckarde pumping station
The Dortmund-Huckarde pumping station was built in 1925, and is typical of the first plants of the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT. In the past, the operator lived directly at "his" pumping station. In Dortmund-Huckarde, he even lived in the plant itself — under the same roof. The pumping station became a listed building in 1938, and in 1980 it "retired". Today an artist lives and works here.
Digestion tower from a bird's eye view
A look into one of the three largest digesters in the world during construction: The three egg-shaped structures, each with a volume of 16,700 m³, were built by the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT between 1995 and 1998 at the Emschermündung wastewater treatment plant in Dinslaken. Even larger still is the digester plant at the Bottrop wastewater treatment plant of the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT. It comprises four digesters, each with a volume of 15,000 m³.
Nature is returning — first renaturalisation project
The Deininghauser Bach stream was one of the first projects for the restructuring of a wastewater channel into a near-natural waterway. Within the framework of the Emscher Conversion, the upper section of the river had already been ecologically restructured in 1996.
100 years of the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT
In 1899, the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT was founded as the first water management association with special legal status. It served as a model for many other water associations. Having started as the partnership of convenience between municipal administrations, mining and industry to resolve the state of water management emergency in the mining region, the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT is today a modern water management company in public hands, and can look back on 100 years of competence and experience.
Emscher wastewater free for first 10 km
The Emscher is now once again free of wastewater for a length of 10 km from its source in Holzwickede, until the Phoenix premises in Dortmund-Hörde — for the first time in over 100 years.
Natural gas and hydrogen from sewage sludge
From the very start, the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT was involved in the further development of water management technology and the promotion of innovation, as demonstrated by numerous inventions and patents. Our model for manufacturing natural gas and hydrogen from sewage sludge recently received an award. The fuels generated were used to fuel the vehicle fleet at the Bottrop location, and to heat a local school centre.
Groundbreaking for Emscher wastewater sewer
Draining the wastewater underground and making the bodies of surface water wastewater-free is a major aim of the Emscher Conversion. Thus far, over 200 km of underground sewers have been laid around the subsidiary waterways of the Emscher. In 2009, with the Emscher wastewater sewer itself, there now follows the main wastewater sewer for the region. Over a length of 51 km, it runs parallel to the main overground course of the Emscher between Dortmund and Dinslaken, at a depth of up to 40 m.
The funding is secured
In March 2010, the framework agreement for the Emscher Conversion is signed. The subject matter of the agreement is the securing of funding for the water management measures of the Emscher Conversion by the EMSCHERGENOSSENSCHAFT and the state for the period from 2010 to 2020.
Three new pumping stations
A lot is happening around the Emscher wastewater sewer: In the construction trenches for the future pumping stations in Bottrop and Gelsenkirchen, work is progressing. In Oberhausen, at a design workshop, the search is on for a convincing draft for the appearance of the pumping station in a close dialogue with residents and neighbours. The order for the construction work on the sewer section between the wastewater treatment plant in Bottrop and the mouth of the Berne river in Bottrop is awarded in April 2011. The tender process commences for the section between the Bottrop wastewater treatment plant and the Nettebach stream in Dortmund.