Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Brussels residents advised to avoid toilet visits during rainstorms

One of the Canal it Up road signs posted around Brussels (Canal it Up/Bruzz)
05:57 20/05/2022

Canal it Up, the Brussels organisation fighting for clean water, is appealing to the capital's residents to not go to the toilet when it's raining and has put up signs around the city to make its point, Bruzz reports.

While the delivery of the message is not entirely serious, there's genuine concern about water pollution at the heart of the action.

"There is only one system that collects both rain and wastewater,” said Canal it Up’s Pieter Elsen. “The consequence being that the sewers overflow, which leads to effluent going into the canal and the Senne when it rains. And so, both watercourses are heavily polluted by that sewage."

Elsen has already raised the problem several times, but a concrete solution has not yet been found. "This phenomenon also occurs with moderate rains, about 10 times a month, not only with very heavy rain,” he added. “In Brussels, it's about 10 million cubic metres of discharged sewage, which is three times more than in Paris, which is a much larger city. We find this quite significant.”

The organisation not only studied the entire sewerage system, but also the overflows, the rain pattern and the frequency of toilet use by the inhabitants of Brussels.

The conclusion is that the sewerage system cannot handle both rainwater and toilet water at the same time. So, a good balance must be found between the two. That's to say: when it rains, the inhabitant of Brussels can no longer go to the toilet. That is also the message that Canal it Up has been spreading in the streets of Brussels through homemade road signs.

Coordinating your toilet visit with rain showers may seem problematic but Canal it Up also provides a solution there. "Of course, we will help the people of Brussels to postpone their toilet visit", says Elsen.

"We are going to share tips on how best to coordinate your toilet visits, for both short and long rain showers. We will do this, for example, via social media. People who for whatever reason do not have a window, and therefore cannot look outside and see whether or not it is raining, we will send an email every time it rains. They must first register on our webpage, but in this way everyone can contribute."

Naturally, this is not entirely serious, but Elsen still hopes that the action will draw more attention to the problem. "Brussels residents can also calculate on our webpage how long their toilet water had been flowing untreated, directly to the Senne before the water treatment plants were built. You will be astounded by the results."

Written by Nick Amies


Frank Lee

"The conclusion is that the sewerage system cannot handle both rainwater and toilet water at the same time. So, a good balance must be found between the two. " Or, fix the sewage system? Oh, wait, I forgot: this is Brussels we're talking about...

May 20, 2022 14:56

Flush after the rush?

May 20, 2022 18:10

It seems quite a challenge not to pee 200 days a year.

May 21, 2022 17:45