A pipe from the Kremlin and its own fleet: the history of Moscow's drainage system in seven case studies

May 26
Municipal services

Rainwater from the city streets did not always go into the developed drainage network and was thoroughly cleaned. Urban rivers were often polluted by sewage, and during heavy rainfall merely flooded coastal areas. Now it is even difficult to imagine, because Moscow has one of the most developed drainage facilities in the world. It is the responsibility of the State Unitary Enterprise Mosvodostok, which turned 30 years old this week.

"Moscow's rainwater drainage system is one of the largest and most complex in the world. These are more than eight thousand kilometers of underground collecting drains and pipes of various diameters, hydraulic engineering and treatment facilities, numerous rivers and reservoirs, including the Moskva River and the Yauza river - the main waterways of the Russian capital. All this is served and developed by the specialists of the State Unitary Enterprise Mosvodostok, implementing large-scale projects on the networks modernization, urban ponds reconstruction, new aesthetic appearance creation of the dynamically developing megapolis," the Deputy Moscow Mayor for Housing and Communal Services and Landscaping Peter Biryukov said.

When the first drainage system appears, what are the underground pipes made of for rainwater and snowmelt, and why Mosvodostok needs its own fleet and divers. We tell you about the most interesting case studies from the history of the drainage system of the capital.

Case study No. 1. The first known drainage system in Moscow appeared in the days of Dmitry Donskoy

A. Vasnetsov. Probable view of the white-stone Kremlin of Dmitry Donskoy. The end of the 14th century. 1922

In Moscow, prototypes of a modern drainage network were built in the days of Ancient Russia. The first known drainage system appeared in 1367 during the reign of Dmitry Donskoy. At that time, the first stone walls with towers were built around the Kremlin, and a drainpipe about 200 meters long was laid from the central part of the fortress. It was laid along the former moat of Ivan Kalita to the Moskva River. The church that stood here was called the ‘church on the Pipe’.

Pipes for draining rain and snowmelt water were also laid during the construction of Kitay-Gorod and Bely Gorod, they were placed under the buildings walls. And in the 16th century, pipes were already provided for sewage removal from monastery kitchens, brew-houses, kvass-houses, from baths and from everywhere where there was large water consumption.

Case study No. 2. Along the current Red Square, a pipe to the open ditch at the Oruzheiny Ryad (Armory Row) was laid

A. Vasnetsov. Red Square in the second half of the 17th century. 1925

Information about the pipe, which could drain the sediment, is mentioned in the documents of 1657.

In the 17th century, drains were improved, this was due to the streets paving. Often, meltwater and rainwater flowed into the nearest ravine or riverbed through separate open canals. If the pipes were still run underground, they were made of wood, stone, brick and ceramics. At the same time, the banks of the Moscow rivers and streams began to be protected with wood and stone.

In addition, at that time in the Kremlin, the grilles for snow spillway appeared. It was a simplified analogue of modern snow-melting points on the main sewers. On them, the snow mass is heated due to the temperature of the waste water. From the Kremlin, the water went into the Neglinnaya River, now the most famous underground river in the capital. At that time, it was not yet enclosed in the tunnel.

Case study No. 3. The drainage network of Moscow was founded in the XIX century

The development of the drainage system in Moscow was facilitated by the construction of the Mytishchi water supply system. In parallel with the water supply system, they began to make open drains and underground canals for the precipitation and groundwater removal. Often they were laid in fortresses to protect the powder magazines from dampness. Specialists of that time managed to build large underground drainage canals - Samotyochny and Neglinny - to remove surface runoffs. At the same time, for the first time, cast-iron drainpipes were laid instead of wooden ones, and coarse filters and sand traps appeared on the drainage canals to clean up disposals.

Case study No. 4. In 1898, a sewerage appeared in Moscow

The Moscow wastewater system was arranged on a separate principle, unlike the sewers of Paris, Rome, Antwerp, Vienna and other European cities. Moscow authorities struggled with pollution, unsanitary conditions and epidemics, so they decided to divert domestic wastewater to irrigation fields separately from surface runoff. Rainwater went into natural reservoirs without preliminary treatment through the drainage canals of the Neglinnaya and other small rivers. Such a system made it possible not to increase the load on sewerage canals and wastewater treatment plants during heavy rains.

Case study No. 5. In the 20th century many of the capital's rivers become the underground ones

From 1938 to 1941, almost all the small rivers and streams in the central part of the city were enclosed in the tunnels. From this moment, the history of modern underground rainwater canals. Although earlier the attempts were made to remove the rivers underground. So, after the fire of 1812, the urban authorities wanted to completely put the Neglinnaya River underground. Part of the river from Samotechnaya Street to its mouth was enclosed in 3-km long tunnel. The banks of the former canal turned into Neglinnaya Street. However, the tunnel was made incorrect, so the river continued to flood the surrounding areas after heavy rains.

This continued in the 20th century. The river overflowed its banks and flooded Moscow from the walls of the Kremlin to Samotechnaya Street. The problem was solved only in the 1970s. At that time, a second rainwater tunnel from Durov Street to the Metropole hotel was built.

Case study No. 6. The length of the Moscow drainage network is more than eight thousand kilometers

It is maintained, repaired, reconstructed, designed and built by the State Unitary Enterprise Mosvodostok. The company is also responsible for water treatment facilities and hydraulic structures, snow-melting points, controls the quality of surface runoff and ensures the cleanliness of urban reservoirs.

Mosvodostok specialists are responsible for 250 ponds, including Tsaritsyno, Chistye, Patriarshie and Novodevichy ponds, almost 195 kilometers of open channels of small rivers and streams, and 67 kilometers of the Moskva River water area. Every year, they clean reservoirs from sludge, protect the banks, arrange a water-holding bottom of the ponds, set out aquatic plants and provide the inhabitants of the reservoirs with living conditions.

Case study No. 7. Mosvodostok has its own fleet and divers

The diving service of Mosvodostok appeared in 2014. The specialists examine the underground rivers tunnels, clean riverbeds and the bottom of ponds from sludge and debris. Car tires are often found under the water, but there are also unusual things, such as refrigerators, safes, lampposts and even cars.

Divers work all year round. Their qualifications are highly demanding. The specialists carry out the most complex work under water using various equipment, for example, for performing oxygen cutting of reinforcement structures.

And the service fleet of Mosvodostok is engaged in collecting floating garbage from the surface of the water. In addition, on 18 self-propelled and 12 non-self-propelled vessels, the specialists eliminate oil sleek field and remove sludge from the bottom in the places of drainage outlets on the Moskva River. The fleet operates even in winter-on two icebreaker-type vessels that can break the ice up to 20-cm thick.

Since 2010, more than 300 kilometers of rainwater drainage networks have been built and reconstructed in the capital. Moreover, the number of places where water accumulates in the city has been reduced by 98 percent, and the efficiency of rainwater treatment at new fining treatment facilities has been increased to 99 percent. The specialists collected about 18 thousand tons of floating garbage and transferred 3700 thousand tons of sludge from reservoirs for processing.

Source: mos.ru

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