- An ordinance of 1341 forbade use of streets for defecation and urination under penalty of fine, but this was largely flaunted. The mesthoop (dung heap) created about 1620 near the present site of rue d'Ophem served as a collection point for human and animal wastes from whence they were carted away to rural locales. Industrial wastes were dumped into the Senne River. A decree of 1776 attributed to the magistracy exclusive control of street sanitation and removal of wastes. Before the 1770s a "master of wastes" was engaged to remove human wastes in sealed casks and to carry out cleaning of the Senne annually. Decrees that forbade throwing trash into the river or cutting down the trees along the waterway were in place in the 18th century.An ordinance of 1846 levied hefty fines for public urination. Public toilets were built in the 19th century, generally tucked away in side streets and alleyways. A public street cleaning service began in 1853. A system of sewers was installed beginning in 1840 with the network completed by 1870, covering over 1,500 km (930 mi.). Underground drainage systems follow the principal streets above, which are indicated by plaques affixed at appropriate locations below.Until 1845, trash was carted to the Mestbaek and later to Heembeek on the east bank of the Willebroeck Canal and from there to a remote location. The first incinerator was installed in 1893 along the canal, which operated until just after World War I. Updated facilities ensued. Today the incinerator for the Brussels Capital Region is situated on the quai Monnoyer. Wastes are burned in four large incinerators.Street cleaning and residential and industrial waste pickup are operated by Net Brussel (Agence régionale pour la Propreté/Gewestelijke Agentschap voor Netheid), a pararegional organization created by an ordinance of 19 July 1990. Five-year waste prevention and management plans were instituted in 1992-1997 and 1998-2002. The first plan instituted recycling measures and facilities and the second stressed prevention efforts in lowering by 10 percent quantities of wastes produced. A third plan for 2003-2007 is in place.A decree of 8 March 1989 resulted in creation of the Institut Bruxellois pour la Gestion de l'Environnement/Brussels Instituut voor Milieubeheer/Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment. The institute measures air quality and ambient noise levels in the Brussels Capital Region, proposes plans and programs for environmental preservation, grants environmental licenses, authorizes and oversees the development and management of green spaces (see PARKS AND GARDENS), and carries out energy policy. A plan for fighting urban noise has been implemented for 1999-2004.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.