Press Centre

Sewer Men

  • Episode:

    2 of 2

  • Transmission (TX):

    Thu 01 Aug 2019

  • TX Confirmed

    Yes

  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 31 2019 : Sat 27 Jul - Fri 02 Aug

  • Channel:

    ITV

  • Published:

    Wed 17 Jul 2019

This information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 23 July.

 

Episode 2

 

“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 listed company - this programme lifts the lid on just what it takes to keep the nation’s water pipes flowing.

 

In the second episode, Pete and Shawn are at one of biggest, dirtiest deepest, pumping stations in Staffordshire, to unblock the sewage well, which has blocked up with non-organic waste known as ‘rag’. The solution is to spray it down with a high-powered water jet called a lance. Pete says: “Looking all right at the minute the lance is breaking it up and the sucker is sucking it up into the machine. You get used to that smell after 22 years of cleaning sewers - you do get used to it.”

 

Severn Trent boss Liv Garfield admits talking about the job she does can kick up something of a stink around the dinner table.

 

“People often think about clean water they think because they turn on the kettle, they think because they have on that shower. Lovely clean water. 

 

Hardly anybody thinks about waste water, because it’s this slightly embarrassing conversation of, ‘I’ve just been to the toilet and my waste has gone away’. Only 50 per cent of what our job is is socially acceptable to talk about at the table or with friends.”

 

All the sewage produced by over a million people flows to the biggest Sewage Treatment Works in the Midlands - Minworth - where John and Jason are dealing with a blockage in the sludge pump after a storm. John says: “All those wet wipes, cotton buds… And teeth, you get sets of teeth. If you lose your teeth you can come here, and we’ll sort you a set out.” 

 

Meanwhile, Pete and Shawn deal with a blockage outside a prison in Staffordshire. Shawn explains inmates quite often throw unusual things down the drain causing it to block, including oranges used to make illicit home brew. He says: “They squeeze all the juice out of it and ferment it and they get hooch out of it – that’s alcohol.”

 

The programme also includes a visit to the Elan Valley Aqueduct, where a new bypass is being built to help carry Birmingham’s water more than 70 miles from Wales, repair experts Luke and Paul fix a leak that has sprung up in a Shropshire lane, sewer jetters Mark and Jack are on a mission to unblock silt traps next to a canal and a blockage outside a chicken ready meal factory, and company boss Liv volunteers to test a brand new leak detector.