Digital Guide Pumphuset
Welcome to Pumphuset’s digital guide!
1. The collecting well
Uppsala Vatten welcomes you to Pumphuset, the Pump House! You are now inside Uppsala’s oldest waterworks, which today also houses our popular exhibition on sustainability and history. Look around you, see the glass floor? You are currently standing by the collecting well, where the whole water production process began.
In the early days, the Fyris River was the primary source of water for a large portion of the citizens of Uppsala. Surface water, such as rivers and lakes, are more susceptible to contamination, making most of the water too polluted to drink without treatment. Drinking from the Fyris River in the 19th century resulted in Uppsala suffering outbreaks of cholera, as was the case with many other major Swedish cities. During its peak year, the disease infected around 10 per cent of Uppsala’s population, and many people died.
When the Pump House was built in 1875, it not only gave people access to clean drinking water, but also made it possible to pump out large volumes of water to different parts of the city in cases of fire. The drinking water pumped through the Pump House was not treated in any way, but was still far cleaner than that of the Fyris River. How does that happen? The answer is groundwater!
Both then and now, the people of Uppsala drink groundwater, something you will learn more about at the station called “The water’s path”.) The water was brought up from different wells. The water was then transported to the Pump House through gravity feeds and gathered at the collecting well, where you are currently standing. The groundwater level in the ridge was 1.5 meters higher than it is today.
Step onto the glass floor! Below you are the large green pipes that brought the water to the collecting well found underneath the big green lid in the middle. The well is eight metres deep. The thread going down into it is part of a measuring instrument which helped the personnel keep track of the water level in the collecting well. A float was placed in the well and then attached to a measuring rod, which you can see on the outer wall. This is known as a stream gauge. When the water levels were low, a warning bell connected to the stream gauge would ring, giving the personnel a chance to adjust the water flow and prevent air from seeping into the pipes, which could ruin the pressure.
2. Half a globe
How sustainable is our lifestyle? Look at the globe in the ceiling, we are currently using half a globe too many! That means our lifestyles use up more resources every year than the Earth can produce! The Swedish lifestyle is even more resource intensive, because if everyone lived as we do, we would need 4.5 Earths to survive!
Below the halved globe, there is a black wooden panel on the wall. Spin the year-wheel to your left! All of a sudden, it stops, which means we have reached the day on which the Earth’s resources are depleted. Not fully depleted though. Rather, the stop represents the day on which we would technically need to stop using the Earth’s resources to live sustainably. This day is known as “Earth overshoot day”. Every year, this day occurs earlier in the year as we continuously scoop up a little more resources than we should. For the rest of the year, we use more resources than the Earth can produce; we use the resources of future generations. Doesn’t really seem fair, does it? It would be like if you got your full annual salary in January, burn through it by August, and then for the rest of the year, you live on advance payments from next year’s salary. Not really sustainable, is it?
What does your lifestyle look like? How big is the environmental foot print of the food you buy, the clothes you wear or that trip you just took? We all have an impact on our planet, but it is up to each and every one of us to decide how large a foot print we leave behind.
Do you feel it is difficult? It is easier than you think to live sustainably! The exhibition here at the Pump House is full of tips and tricks! Try out our talking toilet, play the game Avfallstrappan (The waste hierarchy) and learn more about our waters – the more knowledge you obtain, the more you understand and can do better. You are more than welcome to discuss this further with any of our venue guides, should you wish to.
Here are a few things you can do right now!
- Do not buy junk, buy things that will last a long time!
- “My stuff is your stuff”: trade/share clothes, games and toys!
- Choose a mobile phone that is easy to repair and built under fair conditions.
- Demand cheaper buses, improved walkways and bicycle paths and refrain from taking the car if your journey is shorter than 5 km! If half the trips made by car were made by bicycle instead, we would save 6,500 full tanker lorries every year (in Sweden)!
- Buy stuff that has already been used! The second-hand market is a great way of being kind to the Earth and to your wallet.
- What are your water consumption habits, how long do you stay in the shower, for example? Take the challenge and cut your shower time in half! Saving water is the same as saving the environment.
The more we recycle, reuse and minimise our consumption, the more earthly resources we save, and the more sustainable our lifestyle becomes. Over the past 15 years, household waste in the EU has been reduced by around 9 per cent, which means that more and more people are living sustainably. In 2019, around 50 per cent of the waste produced in Sweden was biologically or materially recycled, but it would have been even better if the waste had never been created to begin with. Biological recycling includes, for example, recycling food waste and converting it to biogas and biofertiliser. Learn more about this process at the “Food transformation” station.
3. The objects tell a story
See that wall with different levers and buttons? Furthest to the right is the control cabinet, a precursor of the computer. This was used by the operator to see and to some degree control what happened in different parts of the Uppsala water system. You can see what controlled what at the top: Galgbacken was the new waterworks after the Pump House, the southern castle tower functioned as a water tower back then, and the wells in Stadsträdgården funnelled groundwater to the Pump House. Turn the dials! Did something happen? No? Good, because nothing is supposed to happen, the house and central control unit have not been in use for many years. Today, everything is being controlled using a more modern system, housed in a much larger waterworks.
In the shelves to your right, you will find objects from the past. The first part is about how we have monitored water quality over the years, with measuring equipment to observe the water’s level of hardness, and also microscope to trace microorganisms. That strange grey lump is a calcium deposit that has been built up over a long period of time in the water piping, which is not that uncommon when dealing with water as hard as what we have here in Uppsala and in large portions of Uppland.
All the items behind the glass panels have their own history, but these are only a small portion of all the things contained within the Pump House when it was still in use. Most of them are currently being stored somewhere else, but you can read more about them at the station called “Want to know more?” under the heading Object Database.
Piping and technology
Water does not make its way to your tap by itself – it needs piping, and high quality piping at that! Over the years, the material used for piping intended for drinking water has varied, but today we use specific types of plastic and concrete pipes. This is a major contrast to the first pipes, which were made of heavy iron or hollowed out logs. In the glass panel, you can see a model of how they drill! A nine-metre log, one hole on each side. And everything has to line up. Tricky!
Turn around! It is impossible to miss the large, elongated black machine stretching the full length of the room. That machine is our electrically powered pumps! However, they were not the first nor the only pumps to be used in the Pump House. Two piston pumps were primarily used. They were powered by one water turbine each, which you can read more about in the “Turbine Room”. The electric pumps served as a back-up to help when the water power provided by the Fyris River was insufficient. Prior to the electric pump, when the Pump House had recently been built, there was a coal-powered steam pump and the house had a tall chimney. However, at the dawn of the 20th century, the steam pump had to make way for the, at the time, highly modern electric pump, a technological marvel that used both alternating and direct current.
Water in Uppsala
The Pump House was completed in 1875, and for the first time, Uppsala residents could get clean drinking water from a tap in or near their home. Such modern, luxurious technology! The people of Uppsala had previously fetched their water by bringing a bucket to one of the city’s public wells, or directly from the Fyris River. Construction of the public wells began in the 16th century and could be found in locations such as Martin Luther King Park, the Linnaeus Garden and Saint Erik’s Spring. However, carrying water is quite heavy work, try it yourself! You will find our yoke next to the station “The path here”.
A yoke is a simple technical equipment which is still being used today. When you place the wooden part on your neck, it centralises the weight of the buckets over your body, making it much easier and less strenuous to carry the water large distances. But how many times a day would you have the strength to fill these buckets? With our current water consumption in Uppsala, you would have had to fill our yoke and carry it back seven times per day! And that would only cover your own average need of 140 litres of water per day. Uppsala is aiming to reduce the local water consumption down to 100 litres/person, which means we still have quite some work ahead of us. What is all that water used for, though? You can read more about this subject at the station called “All your water” further into the exhibition.
The Pump House Workers
What was it like to work in the Pump House? We would have liked to ask Hjalmar, who worked and lived in the building with his wife and nine children. He had an annual salary of SEK 1,500, along with free accommodation and firewood. Pretty luxurious, don’t you think? The floors were mopped every Friday and the machines had to be continuously polished to keep them shiny – after all, this place produced vital goods! The ceiling and the walls needed to be scrubbed once a year – which was known as the “baboon week” as the days were spent climbing around to reach the upper corners of the building.
Work in the Pump House largely consisted of calibrating and repairing water gauges from the city’s households. There was always something that needed doing, but there was also time for a cup of coffee or two, sometimes in the company of police officers out on evening patrols. In exchange for a warm drink and a place by the fire, the police officers were happy to speak of that night’s events. This made for pleasant company in the early hours of the morning. In general, the house was not a public space, and even today, many Uppsala residents have not seen its interior. We’re glad you’re here!
4. The Path Here
Join us on a journey through history! We will start from the beginning, when the land where Uppsala would be built was encased in the thick continental glacier. There was a river running through the glacier, and that river brought with it stones, gravel and sand – creating our beloved Uppsala ridge! Naturally clean ground water is formed in a ridge thanks to the snow and rainwater that seeps through the ridge's airy layers. It is purified of microorganisms, gravel and sand along the way. The ground water found in the ridge is Uppsala’s primary source of drinking water, both when the Pump House was built 150 years ago, and in the present day of 2020.
You can use this station to sift through time. You will see Uppsala grow bit by bit, framed by historical facts about waste and water. For example, Uppsala had a temporary water system as early as the 17th century! Talk about early water technology!
Flip to 1875 – the year the Pump House was built! The picture shows the Pump House in a slightly different form than you are used to. The part to the left, where the collection well is located and where you are currently standing, is not there, and the house in the picture also has a chimney. As the population of Uppsala grew, the capacity of the Pump House was expanded Before 1968 (the last year the house was in use), the steam pump was replaced by electric pumps, and one water turbine became two. In other words, a growing need for drinking water led to investments to meet the increasing demand, just like today. The modern flush toilets that we currently use began to circulate at the start of the 20th century, which also increased the city’s need for water. The Pump House was working overtime!
Two apartments on the upper floor
Did you hear that people used to live in the Pump House? During a period of time, a few families were lucky enough to be tenants in this beautiful building. Not where you are standing now, but the upper floor! The upper floor of the house is divided into two parts, dubbed the northern and southern apartment, as they were used as just that: apartments. The tenants of the Pump House certainly experienced the building’s characteristic sounds, with the pulsing piston pumps sounding like heartbeats, and the loud whine of the black electric pumps at your back. The apartments were small and cramped, but the house contains a wide array of memories, from joyous births to tragic demises, games and everyday struggles. Today, the apartments have been converted to spaces used by the personnel working here.
5. The operator booth
This is a historical site for the telephone! The first telephones in all of Uppsala were placed in the operator booth. The Pump House personnel received calls regarding issues with the water piping network, but also about other forms of infrastructure, such as roads and the electrical grid.
People would call if no water came through their tap, a repair job which could have various degrees of urgency. Once, the water had been switched off in an entire apartment complex, where a woman was in the middle of dying her hair when all of a sudden, there was no water! Panicked, she called the Pump House telephone, but unfortunately, the operator could not help her. Tough break! She worked as an air stewardess and reluctantly had to go to work with green hair for some time. Enter the booth and have a seat! The missions in the Operator Booth game are based on real events and real calls. Answer the phone and see if you can complete the missions.
6. The water’s path
You have probably heard of the water cycle, but have you ever considered that water moves cyclically through the city as well? Here in our green city, we use the ground water as drinking water. In the model before you, you will see a part labelled “Waterworks”. Follow the water through the waterworks by turning the dial and touching the monitor. See how we only do two things to the water before sending it to the houses? In Uppsala, we first soften the water to reduce its hardness. We then add a small amount of chlorine, and then the water is ready for delivery. Simple, right?
Waterworks and water towers
Many natural minerals such as calcium and magnesium end up in the grond water as it is being formed. Water rich in calcium and magnesium is called hard water. In Uppsala, we remove around 50 per cent of the calcium contained in the water. This makes the water softer.
After it has been treated, the Uppsala drinking water is classified as medium hard. For those living and working here, this means that they normally need to use less soap, detergent and washing-up liquid. Softer water means less calcium is build-up on the sink and in household appliances. At Uppsala Vatten, softer water allows us to use the sludge from the sewage-treatment plant in a more circular manner, which we will come back to.
Once the water is ready, it is delivered to the houses and water towers waiting to be used. Uppsala Vatten has four active water towers: Stadsskogen, Björklinge, Storvreta and Boländerna. When you open the tap at home, the great height of the water tower allows for the creation of water pressure that reaches all the way to the tap, even if you live in a high-rise or far away from both water towers and waterworks. The water towers also allow us to store water, ensuring that there is enough water both day and night. This also applies to the times when water consumption is at its highest, such as morning and evenings. In order to keep the pressure at the desired level in all parts of Uppsala, the piping network is supported by booster stations to provide sufficient water pressure to all customers connected to the municipal water system.
Sewage treatment plants
Head on over to the other side of the model, do you see the part for the sewage treatment plant? All sewage water passes through the sewage treatment plant in three steps: mechanical, biological and chemical treatment. The mechanical treatment removes visible debris, sand and larger particles. The biological treatment uses microorganisms such as bacteria to break down and convert the natural organic materials we flush. They convert ammonia to nitrogen and also make poo and toilet paper sink to the bottom. The chemical stage binds the last remaining pieces of dirt that were not separated from the water. Out of this process, we get waste to burn, sewage for producing biogas and fertiliser, as well as clean water that can be returned to nature.
But let’s start from the beginning! Once you have used water, it is full of different forms of contaminants and must be purified. We all contaminate water, not just with obvious things like poo and pee, but also different kinds of chemicals. Do you think about the fact that you flush soap, shampoo and sun screen down the drain when you shower? Or that your body may excrete pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical residue when you go to the bathroom?
So what can you do to improve? It’s simple:
- Don’t use medicine unless you need to!
- Hand in old pharmaceutical products to your pharmacy!
- Use eco-labelled hygiene products and cleaning supplies (for the sake of yourself, your family and the environment).
But what is an eco-labelled product? In the model before you, you should be able to find a toy toilet on one of the short sides. Above it are three common eco-labels: Bra miljöval, Nordic swan and the EU Ecolabel. Open the bathroom cabinet next to it, do you find any eco-label products there? There are a few, and the same goes for the store where you do your shopping. But you can also make a difference here, ask the staff for any products you feel are missing. Buy products with eco-labels so that you know that they are better for you, the sewage treatment plant and nature. A home can easily be kept clean using only eco-labelled soap and washing-up liquid, along with some citric acid. Do you accept the challenge?
When standing by our talking toilet, do you know what is okay and not okay to throw into the toilet? Try it out! Our talking toilet is very clear on what it wants and doesn’t want, but it is pretty simple. The sewage treatment plant is only designed to handle bodily waste and toilet paper. Everything else is rubbish and should be tossed in the bin or recycled!
Every day, the sewage treatment plant receives 1,500 kilos of rubbish. What can we do to reduce this needlessly large amount? If you make sure that there is a bin in the bathroom, you are already halfway there. Talk to your family and friends, because you can only do what’s right if you know what to do.
The sewage treatment plant is tasked with removing visible contaminants, natural organic substances and nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. In other words; poo, pee and toilet paper. Close to 24 hours pass from the sewage reaching the treatment plant to it being fully processed! So the thing you contaminate in seconds takes a full day to purify. That’s something to think about!
Samples are taken from the sewage as it arrives and multiple times during the process before it is released back out. The samples are used to check the contents to see if there are any changes and to ensure that harmful amounts of nutrients are not released into the environment. If there is too much of the wrong substance in the treated water, this can lead to overfertilization in lakes, lakebeds devoid of oxygen and other major environmental damages. Today, the sewage treatment plant operates under clear and substantial requirements, but no less than a hundred years ago, a lot was dumped directly into the Fyris River. Talk about unsustainable!
Sludge for fertiliser and biogas
When sewage water is purified over several steps, it results in a nutritious gooey mass called sludge. This sticky goo is incredibly useful for a number of purposes. Firstly, it can be used to make biogas! The sludge contains plenty of nutrients which we can use in digesters to feed the microorganisms that create methane, also known as biogas. It is an incredible way of creating environmentally friendly fuel from an unwanted waste product produced by you and your drain.
Once the sludge has spent a month in our digester, it is dried and converted into fertiliser. The nutritious fertiliser can be spread on arable land to return nutrition and humus to the soil. How about that!
When we previously softened water, we could not use the sludge on the fields. The hard water dislodged large amounts of copper from the pipes it passed through, which led to high concentrations of copper in the sludge. But now, thanks to the softening of drinking water, we can return useful nutrients to the fields as part of a more sustainable cycle. Terrific!
Bet you’re thinking “But wait, poo on the farmland!?” Of course the fertiliser can’t be haphazardly spread just anywhere. The sludge goes into interim storage for at least six months. During that time, the sludge is closely monitored in accordance with a strict schedule, where metals and other substances are measured. Only sludge that can live up to the highest requirements may be used to fertilise the appropriate crops. Nutrients are returned to the soil, the cycle is closed - we have created a circular, sustainable system in Uppsala! Who knew something good could come from poo?
7. All your water
How much water do we actually use every day? Today (2020), the average Uppsala citizen uses 135 litres on average. But what are we using all this water for? This station will allow you to see how much water is hidden in your everyday life, in your food and in your clothes.
Did you know that a 3-minute shower uses 36 litres of water? If you shower for 20 minutes, that is 240 litres. It is so easy to use large amounts of water when all you have to do is turn a handle. The question is, would you shower for 20 minutes if you had to carry all that water from the nearest well? After all, that’s 12 trips with two 10-litre buckets. Chances are this would make your shower a lot shorter.
Click the screen, select the map! Do you see the differences across the world for how much water a person uses every day? If you have water close by, it is naturally easier to use more than if you have to make a long journey to fetch it. Another factor is whether the toilets, laundry machines and dishwashers are designed to use reduced volumes of water. Of course, the perception of water can vary throughout the world. Compare the different countries, quite the difference, right? Just having a flush toilet leads to a significant daily usage. Flushing a toilet uses 4-5 litres of water, and older toilet models use even more!
There is also such a thing as virtual, or invisible, water. This is the water you cannot see being used, water “hidden” in the production of something. How much water is used to produce a hamburger, a pair of jeans or a cotton shirt. There is plenty of water to save in this area! Reduce your meat consumption or buy your clothes and other things from flea markets. How many pieces of clothing do you really need? Think twice, it will help you save both money and the environment.
8. The turbine room
Welcome to the turbine room, where you will find one of the two turbines that powered the Pump House while it was still in use. The other turbine has been moved to the house by the Iceland Bridge, perhaps you saw it on your way in?
Down in the turbine room, you will find a wall made out of metal, and behind it are the waters of the Fyris River. When the house was in use, this wall did not exist, the water flowed through here and down through the turbines. The water level reached as high as the blue thread you can see running along the walls. Water passing through the turbines caused them to spin, which powered the piston pumps on the floor above. The machine produced a pulsating sound, similar to that of a heartbeat, which you can hear when you descend the stairs. According to the personnel, it gave the impression that the Pump House itself was alive.
That’s the glory of water power! However, there were times when even the waters of the Fyris River were insufficient to pump out the drinking water. That is why the house contained other pumps that could also be used. The first were steam powered pumps that were coal fed. These were later replaced by the black, brass-covered electric pumps you see in the house today. The replacement took place in the early 20th century. Maybe you saw them as you passed through the Pump House? Learn more about this process at the station called “The objects tell a story”.
9. Food transformation
What’s the point of sorting food waste? What happens to the food waste? In Uppsala, we make the most of the banana peels, fishbones and old leftovers people no longer want around – we create biogas and biofertiliser for local use!
Once the food waste has been collected from your house, we take it to the biogas plant in southern Uppsala. The food waste is pre-processed and made ready for putrefaction. For example, we prepare by shredding all the bags containing the food waste and sorting out any misplaced objects. Did you know that the biogas plant sorts out around 300 kilos of metal junk and utensils included with the food waste deliveries every month? And that’s not even the worst of it! We have also found some things in the food waste that were well and truly incorrectly sorted, including paving stones, a kitchen aid, watches, coins and a toaster.
In other words, we do not want to find anything in the food waste other than kitchen leftovers. This means that twigs, old leaves and other garden plants should be sorted as garden waste and taken to your nearest recycling centre. Garden waste is not the same as food waste. Leaves and twigs belong in the compost because they give a less favourable putrefaction process in the digester. Garden waste also brings with it gravel and other kinds of dirt that can ruin the process. Do you want to keep your food waste and compost it yourself? That is totally fine, but don’t forget to notify Uppsala municipality.
Let’s go back to food waste. The lovely leftover goo that emerges from pre-processing then undergoes a sanitation process which kills all the bad microorganisms. The treated leftover goo is then taken for storage in the digester, and this is where the magic happens. The food waste is putrefied for a full month, which creates good amounts of biogas to be used locally in Uppsala to power the green buses, as they run on biogas. What then remains is biofertiliser, which is used on the local farmlands to return nutrients and soil.
In other words, the food waste is an important resource that can be used for some truly amazing purposes. One paper bag of food waste results in 2.5 kilometres of travel. The most environmentally friendly thing you can do is of course to eat the food before it spoils.
10. The waste hierarchy
Uppsala is actively working towards environmental goals, such as reducing the amount of waste produced by the city. By basing our efforts on the different steps of the waste hierarchy, we can work our way up towards less waste and a more sustainable world! What are the steps of this hierarchy.
Disposal is the lowest step and entails what would normally be called “dumping in a landfill”. However, a very small proportion of Swedish waste ends up in disposal, less than 1 per cent of our annual waste! Only material that cannot be used for anything else ends up here. The nature and contents of disposal do however vary greatly between the different countries of the world.
If we move up one step, we find recovery, one step above disposal but still not a sustainable level. Recovery means that the waste is burned to recover the energy for purposes such as district heating and electricity, something we do here in Uppsala. This is what happens to the majority of the waste might know as “regular waste” or combustible waste.
The third step, recycle, is something most people are familiar with. Swedes are very proud of their efforts in this field, as they should be! However, this is not the highest step, so there is still plenty of room for improvement, more on that later.
Glass and metal are terrific resources that can be recycled an infinite number of times without their quality ever diminishing. Paper and plastic can be recycled up to 7 times before their quality becomes subpar. All forms of fabric in your home can be dropped off a recycling centre, were they will be taken care of. So don’t throw away your worn down socks, recycle them! Recycling pays off!
If we advance one more step, we reach reuse. The second hand market is growing as an increasing number of people see the advantages of purchasing and selling used products. They are much cheaper, but also an easy way to make back some money for the stuff you no longer use. At this point, you are really heading toward the top.
At the top of the waste hierarchy, we find prevention and minimising waste generation! By only purchasing things we really need, avoiding unnecessary waste and thinking about our everyday lifestyle, we can save a lot of earthly resources. Reduce the time you spend in the shower by half, avoid making impulse purchases, pass down your clothes, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, borrow your neighbour’s tools, lend your stuff to others - there are plenty of ways for staying on top! How can you climb the waste hierarchy?
11. Your waste is not trash
Most of us are good at recycling, but what happens to all the waste we sort?
See those wooden panels on the wall? Give them a spin! A piece of waste can become something new, provided it is sorted correctly! Plastic, paper, newspapers, glass, and metal are examples of waste we sort, so called fractions.
The material is collected by a refuse collection lorry and taken to different plants around the country, or a different country. First, the material is sorted further, such as through the use of magnets, air streams and infrared light. The material is then sent to factories where it is remade into new things.
Take off your headphones and listen to the different movies shown on the panel! These show how the various recycling plants function. Metal packaging is sorted according to the type of metal used, just like plastics. Because plastic actually comes in many different forms!
Plastic packaging are transported along a conveyor belt where they are sorted using infrared light. When the machine has identified the correct plastic, a small gust of air is emitted to blow the piece of plastic off the conveyor. This happens multiple times in order to separate the different kinds of plastics along the way.
But in order for things to be recyclable, they need to be individually separated! No one else will sort your waste for you, and if a fraction contains too many mistakes, it needs to be incinerated instead. The most important part is that you still try. Are you uncertain? Ask those of us working at the Pump House, or check out the sorting guide published on our website!
12. Where does everything go?
Have you ever flushed a toilet or looked at a bin bag and wondered - where does it all go? Here are the answers! On the screen before you you can see Uppsala and its surrounding areas. Click on the area where you live or perhaps an area you are familiar with. Select whether to follow your poo, your combustible bin bag or food waste from that specific area! Regardless of what you choose, everything is taken care of in some manner by Uppsala Vatten och Avfall AB.
Uppsala Vatten has been tasked with providing quality assured drinking water, but also take care of your sewage water and waste. As you can see, the waste you throw into the combustible waste bag is taken to Vattenfall’s incineration plant. The bag is incinerated, and the heat is used to generate district heating and electricity. This might sound super, but the truth is that the average bag of combustible waste contains around 30 per cent packaging and around 30 per cent food waste. In other words, more than half the content shouldn't have been incinerated to begin with. Those are some serious volumes! Especially if you consider that we all generate around 500 kilos of waste per person annually. Half a tonne of waste, just from you! Recycling makes a huge difference. It’s time to think, what actually ends up in your combustible bag? What could be sorted out and recycled?
The food waste goes to the biogas plant! After being there for about a month, your waste is transformed into biogas and biofertiliser. The biogas is used locally for our green biogas-powered buses, the city buses. But it can also be used for taxis and biogas-powered cars. In 2019, around 50 per cent of the green buses in Uppsala were biogas-powered, but our goal is that even more buses should use this climate-smart gas.
Our biofertiliser is spread across the local farmlands, which creates sustainable cycles, where we give the nutrients back to the soil. Our biofertiliser is also quality certified.
What about sewage water? Where does the poo go? If you have your own well, you know that a vacuum lorry comes to collect the sewage, the solid part of the sewage water. The lorry then brings it to the sewage treatment plant. If you use municipal water, everything you flush is funnelled to the nearest sewage treatment plant via pump stations. The largest sewage treatment plant in Uppsala is Kungsängsverket, which is located downstream from the Pump House, along the Fyris River. You can easily go there for a study visit with your class, company or association. More information can be found at uppsalavatten.se/studiebesok External link..
At Kungsängsverket, it takes no more than 24 hours for your sewage water to be purified through three different steps. First through mechanical purification, then biological purification and finally chemical purification. You can read more about this at the station called “The water’s path”.
However, things used to be different! In the early 20th century, when flush toilets were introduced, the water flushed from them was dumped directly into the Fyris River. We don’t do that anymore, but we still have problems with our lakes and seas being filled with debris and pollution. What can we do to stop this? Work together!
Even though we still have major problems with lakes and seas being filled with contaminants, we can work together to dramatically reduce the level of pollution. It’s simple! Whenever you are outside, pick up waste that you find along your walk or at the beach. Try to always pick at least one bag of waste when you are out walking together, it’s simple and makes a major difference! Let’s solve this together, so that we truly know where everything goes!
13. Want to know more?
Hi there! Now that you have gone through the exhibit, perhaps you are still a little curious! Good! Then this is the station for you. You will find the station called “Want to know more?” at the exhibit entrance.
On the left side of the screen, you can click your way to a selection of different websites to learn more about water, waste and the Pump House. For example, under the tab “Object database”, you will find a database listing the various objects found in the Pump House, along with images and a short description. If you click “The city’s circular system”, you will find a short video about circular economy and the structure of the various cycles found throughout the city. The video is in Swedish.
Time to click and explore. You will find plenty to read and learn! And thank you for visiting the Pump House!