It serves as a cheap drainage of groundwater | An art installation, a symbolic marking of the former Berlin Wall, or a product pipeline winding through the city? These are the questions that visitors to the German capital often ask themselves when looking at the ubiquitous pink and blue pipes. Tourists like to take pictures of the pipeline, which winds through the streets in every possible way, and it also got on postcards. However, the task of the pipes is not to give the city a new industrial face, it is to drain groundwater from buildings cheaply.

About 60 kilometers of pink and blue pipelines run through Berlin
The pipeline has several tens of kilometers

Berlin stands on the site of former swamps and wetlands, so virtually every deeper excavation work means a constant struggle with water, which would otherwise quickly flood the construction pits. Drainage of this water into the sewerage system would fill its capacity, in addition, it would be significantly more expensive.

The river Spree and its extensive network of river canals are offered as a solution. And this is where the pipeline flows.

Because groundwater is not treated as waste water, its discharge into the river brings great savings.

"Fees for draining into the rain sewer are about 0.64 euros (17 crowns) per cubic meter, for sewage sewers the price is 2.21 euros (58 crowns). For the pumping of groundwater, the Department of the Environment is paid 31 cents (eight crowns) per cubic meter, "said Denise Biederstaedt from Pollems, a company that drains water from construction sites in Berlin.

About 60 kilometers of pink and blue pipelines run through Berlin
The pipeline network is so extensive and changes so often throughout the year that it is difficult to trace how many kilometers it actually measures

26 crowns per meter of pipe

Berlin further states that the fee of the Department of the Environment is paid only after exceeding the annual limit of 6000 cubic meters.

"Because of these charges, builders are trying to divert water to surface streams if possible to avoid payment. And if that's not possible, go to the nearest rainwater drain, ”Biederstaedt explained. If builders choose Pollems or its competitors to drain water, then they pay one euro (26 crowns) per meter of pipe used per month.

The path of water from the building to the river flow is not always easy, it is often necessary to overcome several kilometres. The pipeline thus zigzags along the route, crosses multi-lane roads and wide boulevards passes under railway viaducts and leads to the windows of apartment buildings.

Pipes that hold metal struts set in concrete feet at a height of several meters above the ground can give the impression of an unsightly makeshift. But Berliners obviously don't mind, maybe it's the other way around.

When the pink pipes disappeared from the vicinity of Potsdamer and Leipzig's squares years later in the spring, many residents were so surprised that Berlin City Hall commented on the problem. "The permit period has expired and the builder has not asked for an extension," the city explained at the time.

The situation with the pipeline on Potsdamer Platz, which was also noticed by the German media, thus proves that the Berliners accepted the pipes as an integral part of the city that they did not even perceive them. Their attention is only drawn to it when the technicians remove them. Thanks to the constant construction industry in Berlin, it is certain that the pipeline will always be on the streets.

About 60 kilometers of pink and blue pipelines run through Berlin
One of the companies chose a pink color for the pipeline, which according to them evokes positive memories in people

How long is the pipe?

The pipeline network is so extensive and changes so often throughout the year that it is difficult to trace how many kilometers it actually measures. According to the operators and also the city, it is several tens of kilometers.

"Currently, we have about 10,000 meters of such a pipeline in Berlin, and we have others in other German cities, such as Frankfurt am Main," said Biederstaedt of Pollems. Other large companies, such as Brechtel and BL Wasserbau, also have several kilometers of pipes in Berlin.

The town hall will not help to specify the length of the pipeline, which is usually given at around 60 kilometers. "Unfortunately, we cannot provide the exact footage of the pipeline, which always depends on the project, because it changes almost every day," said Dorothee Winden, a spokeswoman for Berlin's environmental department.

An interesting feature of Berlin's groundwater distribution systems is the striking pink color that Pollems paints its pipes. The reason why she did not choose the color blue like other companies is an expert opinion.

"The color was chosen by a psychologist with the help of many children. The psychologist believes that children, young people and also adults with a child's soul perceive this color as great, ”Biederstaedt explained. Thanks to the fact that the color pink, according to the psychologist, evokes memories of childhood in adults, people tend to accept the temporary placement of divorces.

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