A day in the life of an Anglian Water field technician in water recycling

Anglian Water spends £19 million every year dealing with 40,000 blockages that could be avoided if c

Anglian Water spends £19 million every year dealing with 40,000 blockages that could be avoided if certain items were not flushed down the loo Picture: Anglian Water - Credit: Archant

Walk a mile in the shoes of Geoff Everett, field technician in water recycling for Anglian Water. Here he explains how his work keeps your taps flowing while helping to protect the environment.

'I followed in my father's footsteps,' says Geoff Everett, field technician in water recycling

'I followed in my father's footsteps,' says Geoff Everett, field technician in water recycling Picture: Anglian Water - Credit: Archant

What does a typical working day involve?

I investigate sewer blockages and clearances, using CCTV to assess pipes under the ground. I start by checking our systems to find out what, where and when our first job is going to be. If a significant blockage has occurred, we use high-powered industrial pressure washers called jetters to break it down and get the sewer flowing again. I deal with up to seven blockages every day and I also work closely with other teams within the business, flagging any necessary repairs to prevent further problems and reducing the likelihood of environmental pollution.

How did you get into this role?

My father was with Anglian Water when it was founded in 1974. I followed in his footsteps and joined in 1987. I’ve been with the company ever since and loved every minute of it.

What are the main causes of blocked drains?

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The main causes are non-flushable items like wet wipes, sanitary items and cotton buds. Despite a lot of products being advertised as flushable, this simply means they can get past your u-bend but won’t actually break down. These combine with fats, oils, greases and food waste, slowly building up and causing a blockage.

What impact do blockages have?

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A blockage will almost certainly cause customers to lose access to toilet facilities, which is not something anyone wants to experience. Blockages are a real threat – not only to the customer but to the environment. They cause the sewer to back up, which could mean internal or external flooding to properties, as well as pollution to the environment and watercourses.

All the water we source to provide safe, clean drinking water is borrowed from nature and at Anglian Water we take our responsibility as an environmental custodian very seriously. The environment is there for us all to enjoy, so we need to do our best to protect it.

What’s the strangest thing you have encountered?

A child managed to flush his LEGO down the toilet, to the annoyance of his parents. It caused havoc on the sewer system and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to give the LEGO back to him once we got it out because of where it had been!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like troubleshooting and finding solutions to problems, so going out with a jetter and solving issues for customers is very rewarding and extremely satisfying. We’ve got a beautiful patch too – we get to see everywhere in East Anglia: the Fens, Norfolk, Suffolk, town centres, villages, you name it.

What are the biggest challenges of your job?

Making sure that we inform customers at every opportunity on what can and cannot be flushed is key. We need everyone’s help to reduce the 40,000 blockages we face each year. Around 80pc of these blockages are avoidable and are caused by items that should be put in the bin.

Keep It Clear is our behaviour change programme intended to educate and inform customers on what can and cannot be put down the toilet. My advice would be to remember the 3Ps – Pee, Poo and (toilet) Paper. Those are the only things that can be flushed.

We spend around £19 million every single year dealing with blockages, which is money that could be better spent improving infrastructure or reducing customer bills, so there is no excuse for why we all can’t chip in and do our bit!

What can people do to help?

Besides remembering the 3P’s – Pee, Poo and (toilet) Paper – our Pollution Watch campaign is the perfect example of how people can get involved, and we’re asking everyone to be vigilant if they spot pollution in local rivers, streams or any watercourse from our pipes or other equipment. Please report it to us immediately through our customer services telephone number, website or social media channels.

For more information please call 0345 791 9155 or visit www.anglianwater.co.uk

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