Toruń came into existence by the Vistula River with a foundation charter for the new town in 1233 called the Privilege Chełmiński (because two cities were being deposited with it: Chełmno and Toruń). The privilege guaranteed considerably greater autonomy for the inhabitants of Toruń than had been accepted in cities founded on the so-called Magdeburg Law of those days. The authority to decide city matters was in the hands of the city council. It also concerned the water supply and sewage and rubbish removal. A 1594 written statute of the city council of Toruń includes mention of public urban wells. 200 years later the care of wells and waterworks were defined in the special Rules.
In 1893, urban waterworks units were created. They exploited water intake called “Barbarka" located in the north part and the pumping station called "the Old Bielany" at St Josef's street. The growing demand for water spawned continuous construction of a new water intake called later "the Fort of Chodkiewicz". Both water intakes supplied water to the pumping station at St Josef's street where underground ctanks and the water tower were located. The water tower, which has a capacity is 400 m³, exists to thisday but is not in use. The next pumping station which was build was "New Bielany"; decision to construct it was made in December 1925. A sudden increase of the number of city dwellers created the need for next waterworks and sewer investment after the Second World War. In 1962 an extension to the groundwater intake and water treatment plant called “Mała Nieszawka” was finished. 16 years later water taken from the surface water intake, located on the Drwęca River in Lubicz, was pumped to the Toruń first time. In September 1997 the water intake in Jedwabno was completely modernized.
Water taken from the earliest water sources like "the Old Bielany" and "new Bielany" didn't require treatment and could be pressed directly to the urban water supply system, but such a practice could not be continued with later water intakes built because of pollutants. Various treatment processes are being used at present, e.g. coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection. Nowadays the process of “producing” water is very complex so we can say that water treatment plans are in fact big chemical factories with complicated technology working twenty-four hours a day.
Picture - The Old Town map with highlighted location of the stream called “Struga Toruńska” - the first "sewage system"
There was a lack of sewage systems and sanitary facilities in medieval Toruń. The role of the main sanitary sewer collecting all urban sewage and pollutants was a stream called “Struga Toruńska”. Sewage devices, consisting of wooden troughs which removed sewage to a kind of cesspit, functioned only the within properties of the richer bourgeois. The rest of the inhabitants of the poorer districts of Toruń took their sewage beyond the range of the building to the street, creating street gutters. The municipal authorities took responsibility for cleaning the city and the sanitary state. The city council published a series of orders which settled the matter of holding the cleanness in the city and as well as the organization of cleaning services. One of the oldest registrations of the municipal authorities kept in Toruń archives concerning the cleanliness in the town is a statute published in 1594 by Mayor Henryk Stroband, which describes the entire organization of the transport of garbage and ways it. It forbade the disposal of waste to the street and ordered privies to be put in every property.
A sewer system consisting of outlet ducts was installed in 1854 in the first part of the “Old City”. A bigger development of sewer system which directed sewage to the first municipal wastewater treatment plant called “Miejska Przeczyszczalnia” located at Rybaki Street came in next years. This wastewater treatment plant allowed for the mechanical purification of wastewater by separating sand, mineral suspension, solid and floating parts of sewage.
Picture - first municipal wastewater treatment plant located at Rybaki Street
The city sewer system was extended in the interwar period in districts like: Mokre, Jakubskie, Chełmińskie Przedmieście. However, rapid population growth meant that this extension was insufficient and some districts of the city didn't have a sewage system at all. At the same time, urban planners under the management of city engineer, Mr. Tłoczek planned the location of a new urban wastewater treatment plant in the area of the Bydgoska Street. This location was most advantageous because of the possibility of avoiding the need to construct expensive sewage pumping stations, thanks to the natural slope of the land. After the war there was expansion of Toruń and its economic development and together with the expansion of sanitary networks; 346 km of sewer system was built by the end of the 20th century.
In June 1994 the City council made a decision about the construction of a urban wastewater treatment plant. The building started in 1995 and a modern wastewater treatment plant together with the network of trunk sewers came into existence after three years. The next stage of this investment was the construction of a sludge processing line which was completed in 1999. Because of this line, it is possible to convert sludge from treatment processes into products which can be use in natural environment.