Life in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz flows along the river Brda, which runs right through the centre. Yet by the end of the Cold War the riverbanks were run down and dangerous, and sewage outlets and factory waste discharge polluted its flow. But as Eastern Europe began to open up in the 1990s, so did the chance to revitalise the city’s lifeblood.
17km of river were dredged. Sewage and other waste outlets were redirected or closed off, so that now as much as 94 percent of sewage is treated before being discharged into the river. The Brda is now ranked as the cleanest river in Poland. Even the river bus is solar powered.
Since implementing all these measures, the numbers of tourists has risen dramatically, and local entrepreneurs have set up or moved their businesses nearer the river. Even rare species such as beaver, otter and have come back.