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Monday, June 1, 2015

Is a San Antonio-style River Walk possible in London?

River Walk, San Antonio, Texas            Photo: Billy Hathorn
According to The London Free Press, Austin,  Texas, "turned a stretch of its river into its famed River Walk of cafes and shops . . . ."

The paper is right but it is not the whole story. It was almost a century ago when a loop in the San Antonio River was bypassed by a channel. Robert Hugman, a young architect, devised an imaginative plan for the loop isolated from the main river by flood control gates. Inspired by cities in Spain, Hugman began construction of what he called "Shops of Aragon and Romula." This loop, separated from the river for years, was developed over the intervening decades into the River Walk famous today.

The main River Walk is a loop isolated from river by flood control gates.
The River Walk is a lot of things, including a success, but it is not anything like the Thames River in London, Ontario — unless you are thinking of odours.

Both rivers, the Thames and the San Antonio, have suffered from odour problems in the recent past and sometimes from a similar cause: untreated sewage overwhelming treatment facilities during periods of heavy rain. Raw sewage mixes with storm water and both are then discharged untreated into to the river.

According to an EPA release, the San Antonia sanitary sewer system dumped more than 23 millions gallons of raw sewage into local waterways between 2006 and 2012. A 1.1 billion dollar upgrade has been announced to remedy the problem.

When it comes to the dumping of raw or partly treated sewage into a local river, London is one of the worst offenders in the province according to a Free Press story from 2013. One London politician, since voted from office, told the paper there just wasn’t enough money available to solve the issue at that time.

Like I said, London isn't San Antonio. Apparently, the Texas city has the money to fix their sewage problem.

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