Compare Drainage Systems around the World

You could be forgiven for thinking that drainage and sewerage was the same the world over. However, there are certainly some notable differences to the drainage systems here in the UK and other across the globe… 

City sewer system

Tokyo’s Gigantic Flood Tunnel

In Tokyo, massive tunnels are utilised to protect Japan’s capital city from becoming flooded. Consequently, $3billion was spent on a tunnel that would be able to take all that Mother Nature could throw at it.

With Tokyo and its 13 million occupants regularly at risk from cyclones, at the heart of this impressive structure is a water tank that stretches over 320 feet in length. Its towers are just as impressive and are as high as a five-storey building. There are, in total, five huge shafts, and the tunnel itself is around four miles long. When the tunnel starts to be filled with water, four massive turbines help to funnel floodwaters to the Edo River and so avert the risk of flooding.

Sewer systems in Japan have been constructed with extreme weather in mind. At Saitama, concrete silos of more than 200 feet in height, with a width of over 100 feet, are in place to protect the system from damage.

Japan’s first modern sewerage system was built in Tokyo’s Kanda area in 1884. Though not until the end of World War II was there a concerted effort to modernise sewerage systems all over Japan. 

Greece’s Small Sewage Pipes

In Greece, putting toilet paper down the lavatory is ill-advised, because Greek sewage pipes are, at two inches in diameter, twice as small as similar pipes in the UK. Instead of flushing toilet paper, disposing of it in a bin is encouraged. As the bins are emptied each day there is usually no problem with unpleasant smells either.

South Asian, South American Sewerage Made Simple

In South Asia and South America there’s been a fresh approach to sanitation in some urban areas. Known as simplified sewerage this has been tried in countries such as Brazil, Pakistan and Honduras.

Simplified sewerage is similar to conventional sewerage. Smaller pipes are placed in more shallow areas than is the case with conventional sewerage, and people in communities can construct simplified sewerage themselves.

In Africa, simplified sewerage has hearts and minds still to win over. Low cost is often seen as a sign of poor quality, and so the success of this type of sanitation in South Africa has yet to make much of an impact elsewhere on the continent.

China’s Drainage Systems Upgraded

 In 2013, it was announced that drainage systems all over the country were to be upgraded. Flooding and existing poor drainage led to pressure being put on China’s government to act.

The upgraded drainage systems should be able to cope with heavy rain, and stop floods from developing. Major cities will also be expected to continue to function as normal, even when the capacity of the relevant drainage system has been exceeded due to heavy rainfall.


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