The Seseke

A new face for a river

Below Bönen, the Seseke served as an open sewer, used for draining the wastewater of the region. As the mining industry declined in the 1980s, the channelled form of the waterway was questioned for the first time, as was the open disposal of wastewater. Up until that time, there had never been a real alternative. Because mining-related subsidence would cease once the last mines were closed, the LIPPEVERBAND developed the Seseke Programme with the support of the NRW Minister for the Environment Klaus Matthiesen, in order to transform the Seseke and its subsidiary waterways back into a wastewater-free and near-natural river landscape. Before the restructuring of the Seseke area, first underground sewers had to be laid along all of the streams that had been converted into open wastewater channels – the slowest and most costly part of the Seseke Programme.

Freedom from wastewater

Between the end of the 1980s and 2014, the LIPPEVERBAND created a new wastewater infrastructure in the catchment area of the Seseke, with four modern wastewater treatment plants and around 73 kilometres of closed sewers. Since then, only purified water has flowed into the Seseke and its subsidiary waterways. The wastewater is drained into underground sewers running parallel to the waterways, and routed to the wastewater treatment plants in Bönen, Kamen, Dortmund-Scharnhorst and Lünen, where it is purified and discharged into the Seseke and its tributaries, the Rexebach and Körnebach streams.

After being freed of wastewater, it also became possible for the Seseke and its subsidiary waterways to be ecologically improved: to this end, the Seseke itself was converted from a straight waterway running between concrete slabs into a near-natural, curving river course. The concrete shells were removed from the riverbed, the embankments were flattened, and shallow water zones and stormwater retention areas were created. Through initial planting and the introduction of fish (burbot), flora and fauna were also stimulated, so that nature could return and conquer new habitats.

Über Wasser gehen (Walking on Water)

In the Capital of Culture year RUHR.2010, the conversion of the Seseke was accompanied by art in the project ÜBER WASSER GEHEN, thus bringing the river back into public awareness. At various locations in Lünen, Kamen, Bergkamen, Bönen, Unna and Dortmund, a number of temporary and 11 permanent artworks were created on and in the river, which engaged with the transformation of nature and the landscape. From Bönen to Lünen, the LIPPEVERBAND also built a foot and cycle path, which invites visitors to discover the new adventure area and local recreation spot.