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Monday, 6 August 2012

Peeing for Britain

Ten thousand loos spread over 362 toilet blocks have been installed at the London Olympics in a bid to outrun the needs of more than 7.5 million ticket holders.

Disposal of human waste was one of the many practical issues at the forefront of the Olympic planners’ minds, particularly as they had a commitment to reduce the amount of drinkable water consumed.  A new treatment plant, opened this year, helps cut water usage at the park: raw sewage is cleaned using bio-membranes and the resulting liquid is suitable for toilet flushing and to irrigate the four Olympic flower gardens.

Athletes’ needs were not neglected.  Gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, for example, was invited to contribute to the design of the 6,000 seat velodrome, which, along with its waterless urinals, boasts trackside toilets.  Some other venues have rainwater harvesting equipment.

All this looks like good value for money, and indeed sustainability has been riding high at this year’s games despite being lampooned in a very British way on the BBC comedy Twenty Twelve.

But for longer-term change, £60 to twin your loo, and bring about a permanent improvement for people overseas living without decent sanitation, looks like an Olympian-sized winner!

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