Every day, more than 15 million people in London and the Thames Valley flush or drain 2.8 billion litres of used water for treatment. A team of Sewer Flusher's patrol London's largest trunk sewers to ensure they keep things flowing.
In total, we clear around 75,000 blockages from our sewers each year. The majority of these are caused by cooking fats and oils, which congeal in the sewers forming a thick layer around the pipe. This prevents sewage from flowing and can cause it to back up, especially when products such as wet wipes and sanitary items – which were not designed to be flushed - mix with the fat and set hard forming a solid obstruction, called a ‘fatberg’.
In September 2017, our Sewer Flusher's uncovered a 130 – tonne mass of fat and un-flushable debris in the tunnels of Whitechapel. This ‘fatberg’ was exhibited in the museum of London from February until July in 2018.
Our Sewer Flusher's team has a wide range of experience and without them, London and the Thames Valley sewers would struggle to cope with increasing demand.
An introduction to our team
Amelia, John, Charlie, George and Harry all work in the Strategic Pumping and Trunk Sewers Team. They coordinate and monitor the sewers in the London and Thames Valley region to make sure they are clear of blockages.
Why this job?
Amelia: I was on the graduate scheme and after being in the Strategic Pumps and Trunks team, I loved the variation in work and acknowledged the importance of Health and Safety when working within confined spaces.
Charlie George and John: We’ve always wanted to work for a big company like Thames Water as it’s a household name, making it easy to turn other jobs down.
What's the most satisfying part of your role and your motivation?
Charlie: Being able to see London from another point of view that no one else can see.
Amelia: I ensure the safety of our teams who are working on site. I do this by coordinating all works going on in our catchment on a week by week basis.
George, Harry and John: Helping keep the environment and sewer systems clean by removing cooking oil and wet wipes. Its satisfying to keep London and Thames Valley region flowing.
Why is your job important?
John, Harry, Charlie and George: We make sure the sewer is kept clean and runs smoothly. Without our roles, flooding and blockages would be a major problem for our customers.
Amelia: It helps to safely facilitate entries across the network which is critical in ensuring important maintenance is carried out to keep the system running as normal and providing for our customers.
What five words would you use to describe your job?
All: Dirty, interesting, important, challenging and rewarding.
If you could say anything to a Thames Water customer about blockages and fatbergs, what would it be?
All: Please only put the 3Ps down the toilet (pee, poo and paper) – no wet wipes! These cause havoc with the sewer system and the environment; it’s critical we continue to inform the public around what should and should not be flushed down the toilet.