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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Expanding Sanitary Infrastructure and the Shaping of River History: River Vantaa (Finland) 1876-1982

Paula Schönach

Environment and History 21 (2015): 201-226. doi: 10.3197/096734015X14267043141381

This article investigates the environmental history of the River Vantaa, southern Finland, and its interaction with the spatial development of water-related infrastructures in an urbanising environment. The article argues that the overlapping use of the river as part of both waste water and drinking water infrastructures has shaped its ecological characteristics and consequently influenced communities’ possibilities for using it. As a response to hydrological alterations, human activity focused on increasingly manipulating the river water and its flow. The study describes a gradual spatial expansion of the hydrological territory of the Finnish capital and a process of increasingly heavy engineered alterations in order to meet the water-related needs of communities in the region. This happened within the watershed and beyond, both above and under the surface. The study covers the time period from 1876 to 1982.

KEYWORDS: River history, water supply, sanitary infrastructure, River Vantaa

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