My colleagues and I decided to take the metro to Paris on Sunday. So what landmark does a group of engineers visit first? The Eiffel Tower? The Louvre? No. We decide to go underground to the "Le Musée des Égouts de Paris", The Paris Sewer Museum!
This is a real walking tour in an actual working sewer and a must see for the curious engineer or just the curious. As you descend a narrow circular staircase, you are faced with a long narrow, damp tunnel and a large dripping pipes overhead. There are many creepy dark tunnels that are blocked off – but you can definitely imagine what the workers went through in the 1800's and even today.
Luckily for Paris, Napoleon Bonaparte knew there had to be a method to provide clean drinking water to its citizen and remove the waste far away from the Seine river and the city’s boundaries. This was a big problem, for waste in drinking water was killing its citizens.
Engineers solve problems. There is a great pride given to the engineers that solved the problem, Eugene Belgrand (hydraulics) and Jean-Charles Alphand (land architect – civil engineer). These engineers were instrumental in the expansion of the Paris sewer system to handle human waste and waste water.
There is also a display featuring the survey equipment used by Emmanuel Bruneseau. Bruneseau was in charge of surveying the extensive network of the Paris sewer system. He provided his friend Victor Hugo with an accurate account of tunnels and outlets underneath the city that the author captivated audiences in his novel, Les Misérables. My daughter told me she is taking me to the Les Mis movie next month. I will be looking at the story from a different perspective.
As in all Paris museums, there is a gift shop. So what would you find in the Paris Sewer museum gift shop? Toy stuffed rats of course. The little ones start 3 euros. Before assending to street level, there are very clean restrooms that provide a place to wash your hands.
My colleagues and I did finally walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre along the Seine. We admired what other french engineers created above the ground; its bridges, monuments and buildings. But it is the engineers below ground that also contributed to the city's greatness.
Today I wonder where are the engineers that make a difference in our cities and solve problems of waste and waste removal. Ironically a new case study was published this week. Using SolidWorks, CP Manufacturing engineers design and implement the process that separates all those materials we put on the curb, glass, plastic bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers.
With over 400 material recovery facilities worldwide, the company is a leading innovator of waste management and recycling equipment.
You can learn about their story here.
Engineers continue to solve problems of waste removal. Perhaps 100 years from now, tourists will look to visit a separation facility designed by CP Manufacturing. Marie