The Fens enabled the park system in large part because it was key in a larger urban infrastructure--flood control.

And concommitant with flood control was sewage reform.

The marshland had been used for decades as sewage disposal. But as the population grew, more consolidated and coordinated efforts were required. The Fens was the lynchpin in those efforts, acting primarily as a detention basin for "freshets" which were also the major sewage contaminant culprits.
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