The Breslau Irrigation Fields began operating as the Städtliche Rieselfelderw Breslau exactly on June 28, 1881. On that day, for the first time, the city’s excretions were pumped to the fields. Their sewer infrastructure consisted of interceptors, distributors, settling tanks, flood quarters, gate drains, ditches, as well as invisible drains and seeps. They formed a delicate feature in the landscape of the fields. An idyllic, monotonous landscape dominated, enhanced by fruit trees and basalt roads. Sewage expelled into the fields slowly seeped over the surface, and, cleaned by the plants and soil, made its way safely to the river. For a long time this worked well. After the war they continued to serve, this time for the Poles. They didn’t officially stop operating until 2015. For 134 years they cleaned everything from the city; first German, then Polish. Of course, this is a gross oversimplification, as the fields received the excreta of all classes and nationalities of people living here.
The city’s growth required a larger area that could digest its consumption, and so the fields began to expand over time, and then swelled, reaching the limit of their capacity in the 1980s. And then a miracle happened: an aquatic and wetland ecosystem was established here. Wetlands, after all, are the most endangered habitats, in fact, most have disappeared from the face of the Earth due to human activity. And here, as it were, in symbiosis with human physiology, this large, stinking swamp was formed. And after time – the pearl of the local ornithological and birding community. Today, having been disconnected from the city’s metabolism, it is threatened by drought, which is changing the prevailing life here before our eyes.
Usually we hear a story about a man who destroyed his natural surroundings. This time may be different. There is a paradox in the fields: due to the low degree of transformation, they can be classified as relic landscapes. On the other hand, this wetland ecosystem is the result of human activity and has become dependent on a constant supply of water, pumped here with sewage. When a new sewage treatment plant was built, the sewage flowed into it. And the fields went into dry retirement.
With my story, I want to capture the moment of their transformation and point out some helpful clues to understanding the area. From the experience of many encounters in the fields, I have gained a specific knowledge of what man’s relationship with nature can serve both sides. In the fields, I felt the incarnation of the idea of an urban sanatorium, which supports man in his unpleasant overstimulation. And yet it serves him by the way, focusing primarily on his own resilience and the well-being of the plants and animals living there.