Belgian ‘peeing boy’ statue no longer wasting 2,500 litres of drinking water a day after 400 years

Belgian ‘peeing boy’ statue that wasted up to 2,500 litres of drinking water a day has finally been made environmentally friendly after 400 years

  • Manneken Pis statue in Brussels found to be wasting thousands of litres of water 
  • ‘Peeing boy’ sends 1,000 to 2,500 litres of drinking water a day down the drain
  • But now a channel redirects the flow back to the youngster to recycle the water
  • The statue could have wasted as much as 250 million litres of water since 1619

A famous statue of a boy peeing into a fountain in Brussels has finally become environmentally friendly after centuries of pouring clean water down the drain.

The Manneken Pis, one of the Belgian capital’s most popular tourist attractions, has been weeing fresh water into the city’s sewers since the 17th century.

As much as 1,000 to 2,500 litres of drinking water a day – enough for around ten households – has been wasted by the ‘peeing boy’ statue, an expert has claimed.

Energy technician, Regis Callens, spotted the potential waste after installing a water meter in the small bronze monument. 

If this calculation is correct then the cheeky youngster’s antics have wasted more than 250 million litres of water over the last 400 years.   

Manneken Pis, the urinating boy statue in central Brussels, Belgium, was found to be wasting as much as 2,500 litres of water a day

As a result of this discovery a new system for delivering the water back to the playful 21-inch (55cm) youngster was devised.

Now the Manneken Pis will no longer pass clean fresh drinking water, but instead use water recycled from a closed circuit.

The water he pees out will be recirculated and used again in an almost endless cycle, according to the Brussels Times. 

A channel was built to gather the water that flowed out and redirected back to the statue, with a permanent circuit due to be fitted at a later date.

It was initially thought the boy’s water flow was already on a closed circuit as his water usage did not seem too high to the authorities. 

The cheeky boy's flow has now been redirected so that the water does not flow directly into the drains of Brussels

The cheeky boy’s flow has now been redirected so that the water does not flow directly into the drains of Brussels 

But Callens told French newspaper La Derniere Heure: ‘We thought it was a closed circuit and that he wasn’t consuming anything as the counter for Manneken Pis is just one out of 350 or 400, nobody paid much attention.’ 

The solution was devised at the same time as Brussels Water Week, when the city’s environment agency organised a number of activities to mark the importance of clean water.

The bronze statue was found to be peeing clean water down the drain

The bronze statue was found to be peeing clean water down the drain 

City councillor Benolt Hellings told the Brussels Times: ‘In the middle of this Water Week, we can be proud to say that, for the first time in 400 years, Manneken Pis is not peeing out fresh drinking water.’

Authorities in the city intend to inspect other fountains across Brussels to see if any drinking water is being wasted elsewhere. 

The bronze figure stands close to the Grand Place in the medieval centre of the Belgian capital. 

The Manneken Pis is the work of the renowned baroque sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy and is a replica of the 1619 original, which is in a nearby museum.

Origins for the statue include a tale of a two-year-old nobleman called Duke Godfrey III of Leuven, who was placed in a tree by his troops where he urinated on enemy soldiers.

Another 14th-century legend states the peeing boy is a tribute to a local lad named Julianske who had saved the city by urinating on a burning fuse lit by enemies trying to blow up defensive walls.

As part of the figurine’s playful backstories, he is often dressed in different costumes throughout the year to mark festivals, special occasions and political events. 

He is said to have more than 1,000 costumes and is dressed up 130 times a year.