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Manneken Pis will no longer waste drinking water

© Niels Mikkers/Wikimedia
© Niels Mikkers/Wikimedia

The statue of Manneken Pis, the little boy who symbolises the spirit of the people of Brussels, is doing his bit for the environment. Until now, the boy has – as most of us do – been turning drinking water into his own personal fountain. But in his case, he was going through 1,000 to 2,500 litres of water a day: clean, fresh water straight into the sewers of the capital, the equivalent of as many as ten households.

The realisation was made at the end of last year by Régis Callens, an energy technician for the city of Brussels, who installed a meter on the little boy’s output.

“We thought it was a closed circuit and that he wasn’t consuming anything,” Callens told La Dernière Heure. “Since the counter for Manneken Pis is just one out of 350 or 400, nobody paid much attention.”

The technician reported his findings, and last week the solution came into operation.

From now on, Manneken Pis will no longer pee clean fresh drinking water, but use water from a closed circuit – the water he pees out will be recirculated and used again in an almost endless cycle. For the time being, the solution consists of a simple channel which gathers water from the fountain and feeds it back to the statue. Later, the city intends to install a more permanent circuit, more in keeping with the location.

As luck would have it, the solution was inaugurated during the Brussels Water Week, when the city’s environment agency organised a number of activities to mark the importance of clean water. “In the middle of this Water Week, we can be proud to say that, for the first time in 400 years, Manneken Pis is not peeing out fresh drinking water,” said city councillor Benoît Hellings (Ecolo). The Brussels-City commune now intends to inspect the other fountains on its territory to ensure a minimum of drinking water is being wasted.

“We will also be improving the monitoring of installations in schools and sports centres,” he said. “We should be setting an example, and encouraging everyone in Brussels to pay attention to their water consumption.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times