Fascinating Insights: RWTH Alumni Tour the Köhlbrandhöft Sewage Treatment Plant in Hamburg


15 alumni from the Hamburg region took some time for themselves on Friday, March 20, 2015, and met at the Hafentor landing pier not far from the St. Pauli Piers. We were picked up by the Angelika launch at 2:45pm and, after a short harbor tour, were brought to other side of the Elb to the Köhlbrandhöft landing pier.


We were greeted by the head of sewage treatment plants at Hamburg Wasser, Hartmut Schenk, who is also a RWTH Aachen alumnus.

After a short walk on the grounds of the Köhlbrandhöft sewage treatment plant we reached the administrative building. There, we enjoyed coffee, tea, and cake while Mr. Schenk gave an introductory presentation for more than 30 minutes with impressive performance indicators. Aside from the fact that it is the largest sewage treatment plant in Germany, he particularly emphasized, that the facility, in which the waste water from more than 1.8 million people in Hamburg and industrial areas is treated, is self-sufficient after having two wind turbines installed a few years ago. Equipped and well-prepared with lots of theory, we donned hard hats and headphones for the almost two hour tour. Mr. Schenk continued to demonstrate his enthusiasm and extensive knowledge during the tour, answering all of our questions.

The extensive tour took us to the roof of the sludge incinerator, from which we had a great view of the facility grounds, the nearby container terminal, and the harbor. Both our eyes and our noses were tested with unfamiliar impressions.

Shortly after 6pm we reached the landing pier and said goodbye to Mr. Schenk, thanking him for his time. The Angelika launch then safely brought us to the north side of the Elbe. While enjoying Portuguese wine and delicious fish at Beira Rio, which was booked full, we relaxed and talked about our experience from the afternoon as well as ideas for our next get together, which will likely take place in fall of 2015.

We'd like to once again thank Hartmut Schenk for his hospitality and professional tour and Christoph Schröder for making this interesting event possible. Thanks also go to the team in Aachen for supervising and organizing the event.

Author: Winfried Sturm