Press Centre

Sewer Men

  • Episode: 

    1 of 2

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Thu 25 Jul 2019
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 30 2019 : Sat 20 Jul - Fri 26 Jul
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
This information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 16 July.
 
Sewer Men
 
“Sometimes it does turn your stomach a little bit. It’s the fat that’s the worst, rather than the pony. Pony - yeah, another word for the poo… It’s just a nice word in front of the customers, not all of them like us calling it poo and other choice words, if you get me.” - Mark Davies, sewer jetter
 
This new two-part documentary series for ITV gets down and dirty with waste water workers as they unblock toilets and drains, going waist-deep in sewers clogged with wet wipes and fat.
 
The sewer men at the UK’s second biggest water firm Severn Trent have a big dirty stinking job on their hands - cleaning up three billion litres of raw sewage per day.
 
Filmed over three months last summer, during Britain’s biggest heatwave for years, this documentary provides a vivid insight into the emergency provision of water to feed drought suffering areas and into life in the murky sewers - the blockages and fatbergs faced by staff who have to deal with the most unpleasant problems. 
 
Following both the sewer workers and those tasked with keeping the firm running - including chief executive Liv Garfield, who is the youngest female CEO of a UK stock-market top 100 listed company - this programme lifts the lid on just what it takes to keep the nation’s water pipes flowing.
 
In the first episode, cameras follow Mark and Jake, sewer jetters who delve into Birmingham’s bad toilet habits, speculating on who’s been busy when they find a drain full of condoms. Mark outlines the problem they face when drains become clogged.
 
He says: “This is what we get from wet wipes. They don’t really break up. What happens down the drain is, they get caught on the clay pipe. And obviously the next one comes down and gets caught behind it. And that’s the start of your blockage. Wipes are a big problem. You can end up knocking every property and they say that they don’t put wet wipes down, but somebody is.”
 
Meanwhile, after having issues with blockages and sewer floods the owner of one restaurant has installed fat traps, which are being inspected by Grant Mitchell, the firm’s head of fat, oil and grease. He says: “If the business doesn’t use a fat trap ultimately their fat is going to go into the sewer. What tends to happen then that fat goes into the sewer and when it cools down it solidifies and mixes up with the wet wipes and all the things that shouldn’t go down there including the sewage itself, and it basically creates a fatberg.”
 
Meanwhile, veteran sewage shovellers Pete and Shawn have the worst job of all - washing down smelly sludge on a hot sunny day. They undertake a big job at the sewage treatment works in Staffordshire, cleaning out the incoming channel where all sewerage comes in. The problem is, the filters have become clogged by ‘rag’ - wet-wipes, sanitary products, cotton buds – just about anything that doesn’t dissolve in water. Pete heads into a hole to unclog the problem. Shawn says: “He loves it, he does. He’s like a pig in s****. If he hadn’t gone in today he’d have gone round with a long face for the rest of the week.”
 
A team of four sewer men is surveying one of Derbyshire’s biggest sewage pumping stations, and on this job, the most junior worker Jay has drawn the short straw and is going down into the sewers. Supervising him is Josh, who says: “You’ve got thousands of gallons of just raw sewage coming to this point. It more or less gets churned up and gets sent by a pump to another line. God knows how many thousands of houses it’s taking. Probably most of Derby where we are. It splashes up, so keep your mouth shut. Otherwise you will swallow it and it’s not nice.”
 
With July 2018 providing the UK’s hottest driest summer for more than 40 years, Welsh reservoirs which supply water to over a million people in the Midlands are running low which means they have to call tankers in. Sam from the firm’s hot weather task force says: “The forecast is progressively getting hotter over the next few days. So bearing in mind school holidays, kids off, paddling pools being filled up. It’s just people just using a lot more water.”