november 2012 | thameswater.co.uk
LOVE YOUR RIVER
Say Olympic champion and Environment Minister
4 7 8 10 12 15 19 21 22
Rower and Minister say Love Your River
Jayne Farrin has seen the difference the money is making
CBBC duo Dick & Dom ‘In da Sewer’ After the Olympics comes Crossrail ‘Freshu’ way to wipe out blockages Fun and games at the 5-20 Challenge Day in the life of an operations call agent Scheme to fix Henley sewer problems Why is fishing good for young people? Retired pump given new lease of life
Editor’s column “How do you find enough to fill every month?” I keep getting asked that, and in reality I have too much. There is so much going on across the business that it is actually more difficult fitting it all in. But like a skydiver in freefall – unless your name is Felix – I always want more. So please send me your stories or ideas, or tell me what you like and dislike if you want. Our chief executive also wants to hear what’s on your mind and once again he answers your questions on page 23. Check out the cracking 5-20 Challenge spread in the centre while the ‘Face of Freshu’ Di Addison shows us what should now be in a toilet near you – the anti-wet wipe dispensers were set to be installed in all loos at Clearwater Court last week. Stuart firstname.lastname@example.org 2 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
Bangladesh campaign wins prestigious honour All smiles as Thames Water wins top WaterAid award for Thames 4 Bangladesh campaign BY BECKY JOHNSON
hames Water collected a prestigious award for its work to bring safe water and sanitation to people in four Bangladeshi towns. WaterAid, the international charity, handed the company its coveted President’s Award – signed by HRH the Prince of Wales – on October 12. The firm’s Thames 4 Bangladesh scheme is the first example of a company adopting specific areas on which to focus their fundraising efforts. Jayne Farrin, head of communications and brand, picked up the award the day before she parachuted out of a plane at 13,000 feet to raise an extra £7,000 for the charity. “Thanks to many of our employees, contractors and customers, thousands of the world’s poorest people have gained access to
the very thing we in the west often take for granted – safe water and sanitation,” she said. “We have been privileged enough to have seen first-hand the living conditions in our four adopted towns, and we have seen the difference our money can make.” Almost half of the population in Bangladesh doesn’t have access to sanitation, and water-related diseases are responsible for nearly a quarter of all deaths. Thames 4 Bangladesh is a fouryear programme to raise £1 million to support four Bangladeshi towns. This money will provide access to safe water and sanitation for people in Fulbaria, Shakhipur, Paikgacha and Kalaroa. Rather than just building infrastructure, local communities are asked what facilities they need and educated how to maintain them. Thames Water works with WaterAid at every step of the way to ensure all the money raised is put to the best possible use. It visits each of the towns annually to review progress. In addition to raising funds for Banglasdesh, the company plans to raise an additional £1 million to support WaterAid’s work globally over the four-year programme.
Shortlisted for Utility Week awards Thames Water has been shortlisted in two of the Utility Industry Achievement Awards categories. The company will be in the running for the ‘Marketing initiative of the year’ for its work on the drought and ‘Customer care award’ for the Waterwisely website at the London ceremony at Grosvenor House Hotel on December 10. Utility Week editor Janet Wood said: “Our industry achievement awards recognise the teams and companies whose outstanding performance drives excellence in the industry.
The awards are recognised for their value and highly prized within the industry.” The firm ran a sustained, targeted and industry-leading drought campaign, making use of all channels available to protect reputation, promote messages and help customers understand the situation following the driest two years on record. As a result of the drought, Thames Water also transformed its existing water efficiency website Waterwisely to offer advice and free water-saving products to customers.
Raquel Coca-Fernandez takes the plunge. Left, Jayne, top, and Raquel in freefall
Giant leap for the Thames daredevils They may not have broken the sound barrier, but 13,000 feet was high enough to get the stomachs of Thames Water’s own skydivers churning BY STUART WHITE
he day before spaceman Felix Baumgartner completed the highest ever sky dive, a team of Thames Water daredevils were also in freefall. The thrill-seeking quartet of Jayne Farrin, Mark Matthews, Raquel Coca-Fernandez and Steve Merchant were all parachuting from
Steve Merchant, Mark Matthews and Raquel Coca-Fernandez
over two miles up for the annual WaterAid sky dive – which helped raise nearly £8,000 for the company’s Thames 4 Bangladesh campaign. Head of communications and brand Jayne shook off her heels to lead the fundraising charge by raking in £7,155 for the charity. “What started as a crazy idea, turned into something quite amazing,” she said. “It will go down as one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I did not do it for kicks. I did it to genuinely face a fear and do my bit to highlight the Thames 4 Bangladesh programme. “Awesome as it was, I am in no hurry to do it again, but the memory will live with me forever.” Fellow jumper Mark, a town planning manager, added after his tandem dive: “This was the ultimate in exhilarating sponsorship events for WaterAid. There isn’t much that can beat freefalling at 120 miles an hour for nearly a minute. Next year we aim to go faster and higher with a space jump.” Colin Wright and Hannah Posner missed out this time but are set to complete their
Jayne Farrin brushes off ‘a difficult situation’
WaterAid jumps over the next few months, while another charity sky dive is being organised for the spring – watch this space. Organiser Tom Ray said: “It was a great success after last year’s first WaterAid jump and sets a precedent for next year. The sky dive is great as it pushes people outside of their comfort zone. “The nerves are very apparent before the dive, and we always have a good pub lunch afterwards to digest what has just happened.” The landing took place on the morning of October 13 from Hinton Airfield, which is in south Northamptonshire and borders Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire. www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 3
LOVE YOUR RIVER How to combat misconnections
s to combat Minister Richard Benyon discussed way threatens rivers h whic lem misconnected sewers, a prob rts from expe and ings Jenn Mr across the UK, with er. Wat Thames ater drains are Misconnections occur when surface-w lting in untreated resu s, drain ge sewa wrongly linked to foulthe local river and sewage, rather than rainwater, entering damaging wildlife habitats. out of sight, out of This problem is more often than not to Thames Water, it is mind, but it is nationwide. According es in parts of the hom estimated that one out of every 10 properties in ,000 300 ated Thames region, and an estim onnected drain. misc of form e som have s, England and Wale d that in total foun Additional Thames Water figures have e from wast foul of h wort 1.5 Olympic swimming pools’ day in its y ever rses rcou wate rs ente rs misconnected sewe London and Thames Valley region.
Olympic champion James Cracknell and Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon try kicksampling with local schoolchildren
Stuart Smith leads the discussion
The River Chess The Chess runs from springs at Chesham 11 miles through the Chess Valley, part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, where it joins the Colne and from there the Thames. It is home to water vole, brown trout, kingfisher and water crowfoot. In the past the Chess has been affected by storm sewage discharges from Thames Water’s Chesham sewage works following heavy rain. Although legal and permitted by the works’ licence, such discharges are undesirable in any river, let alone a chalk river of such high quality. The water company responded to concerns from the RCA by doubling the capacity of the works’ storm overflow tanks, greatly reducing the chance of any sewage discharges to the river. The company’s local management also implemented a warning system for any discharges from the works, in the rare event that they are required. As a result of the work carried out by Thames this warning system has not had to be used.
4 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
‘Love Your Rive Minister and O Campaign kings visit the Chess to say the link between river health and water use is not a game BY SIMON EVANS
lympic gold-medalist James Cracknell and Environment Minister Richard Benyon have urged Britons to get hands-on caring for their local rivers. The pair donned wellies before stepping into the River Chess, the stunning chalk stream, at Latimer Bridge in Buckinghamshire, to join local school children in an activity called kick-sampling. Kick-sampling, used to monitor a river’s environmental health, involves roughingup a river bed with your boot and collecting the animals disturbed in nets. The numbers of bugs, shrimps and other wildlife are counted and a monthly river-health score is calculated as each group of animals has a known tolerance of pollution. Today’s visit, in support of Defra’s national Love Your River (LYR) campaign, was staged by the River Chess Association
(RCA) with partners Thames Water, which recycles its customers’ treated wastewater back to the Chess. Cracknell, the Love Your River campaign adviser, said: “I’m really pleased to be joining the ‘Love Your River’ campaign. Going to school in Kingston, I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits a river can bring to a community. We’ve all got a role to play in making sure our rivers are as healthy as they can be.”
Pictures by Stewart Turkington
LOVE YOUR RIVER
er,’ urge Olympic rower Paul Jennings, chairman of the RCA, added: “We are one of hundreds of river trusts and associations around the country, and our aim is to get local people involved in understanding and caring for their local river particularly rare chalk stream ecosystems like the Chess. “We are really pleased the Love Your River campaign is helping to move the need to look after the health of our rivers to the very top of the political agenda.
Key issues for the Chess are reducing abstraction and improving water quality.” Richard Benyon said: “We all love our rivers. They are the lifeblood of our country. They’ve shaped our landscape, and our towns and cities have been designed around them. They are vitally important for our everyday lives and our environment, and we’ve all got a role to play in making sure our rivers are as healthy as they can be.”
What is kick-sampling?
Kick-sampling is a tried and tested met hod of collecting information that allows us to monitor the health of a river. The activity involves standing in the river and roughingup the river bed with one’s feet befo re collecting what is disturbed in little nets. The prevalence of bugs, shrimps and other wildlife found in the samples are measured against a baseline and a monthly score, which reveals the current heal th of the river, is then calculated with laboratory tests carri ed out if necessary. The RCA’s ‘kick-samplers’ go out regu larly looking for key species including shrimps, which are the most tolerant of pollution and tend to be more prev alent. Mayflies, which are the most pollution-sensitive creatures, tend to be less common.
“WE’VE ALL GOT A ROLE TO PLAY IN MAKING SURE OUR RIVERS ARE AS HEALTHY AS THEY CAN BE” Richard Aylard, sustainability director for Thames Water, said: “While we may see our local river every day as we go to work or drop the children off at school, it is easy to overlook the simple fact that water from that river is what comes out of our taps and showers. Every drop we use is a drop less in the river. Love Your River seeks to remind us that using water wisely – whatever the weather – can help protect our glorious rivers.” www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 5
Over-running roadworks can incur higher fines It is now even more important that works are completed on time and to the required quality as streetworks penalties multiply BY STUART WHITE
Mo Bros Anthony Scicluna, Andy Gingell and Tom Ray
Grow a MOnster Whether it is a full set of handlebars, a rock star or fine wisp, November can mean only one thing to a man’s upper lip. Movember is here and once again Thames Water is embracing moustache season by encouraging Mo Bros to sculpt their own unique mouth brows. Whether you take inspiration from Tom Selleck, Charlie Chaplin or Hulk Hogan, it’s time to Mo now and raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health – specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Programme Manager Mick Tutton, who leads the Thames Water Movember charge, said: “The two main aims are to raise money and bring the Thames Water community together. “The shaping, styling and grooming efforts are unbelievable. As is the amount people talk about them. The brave ones are those who know it looks pretty unflattering but carry on regardless. It is a great cause and the challenge is set to get involved and grow the best Mo you can.”
ines for over-running roadworks have rocketed this month. The steep increase follows the June launch of the Transport for London Lane Rental Scheme which was designed to reduce disruption in the capital caused by roadworks. Thames Water can be charged a rate of up to £2,500 per day to work in London’s busiest streets as part of the scheme, and from October any roadworks over-running now incur fines of up to £10,000 per day if engineers have not cleared the site.
“THE INCREASES ARE SIGNIFICANT FOR US AND OUR CONTRACTORS” This is up four times from the old penalty of up to £2,500, and if only 0.5 per cent of all the streetworks activities Thames Water carry out per year over-run these fines could cost the firm several millions. Stakeholder engagement manager for streetworks Paresh Kavia said: “The increases are significant for us and our contractors. It now becomes even more important that works are completed on time and to the required quality.”
As a result, effective planning and communication, while working closely with the highway authorities and other works promoters, has never been more important – especially working on lane rental scheme routes. Paresh added: “Keeping our network of pipes and sewers in good working order inevitably means working in the streets, and our aim is to minimise the disruption and cost for those affected wherever we can. “We carry out far more streetworks in London than any other organisation and therefore have to find innovative solutions to minimise disruption. That is the challenge for us and every utility.” 0 to The lowest fine increases from £10 on fine m imu max the and day per £750 to up to 00 £2,5 busy roads increases from £10,000 per day
Utility companies including Thames Water are continuing to invest in innovative ways of working to reduce blocking highways and are implementing a range of measures to cut disruption, such as endorsing the Mayor of London’s code of conduct, road plating and exploring minimum or no-dig techniques, all of which aim to deliver real results. It is estimated that disruption from roadworks costs the capital’s economy around £750 million a year. Around £300 million of this is on London’s busiest roads – the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) or ‘red routes’ – which, although only comprising around five per cent of London’s road network, carry more than 30 per cent of the traffic.
“THE SHAPING, STYLING AND GROOMING EFFORTS ARE UNBELIEVABLE. AS IS THE AMOUNT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THEM.” Thames Water Mo Sistas can also take part by rating the moustaches out of 10 as they develop each week. And the best Mo’s will be published on a portal hall of fame. Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world every November. To get involved and help beat last year’s Thames Water total of £39,000 join the Thames Water Movember team by looking up Mo It Yourself – Six at www.movember. com. Or form a local team and link it to the company page. Send your pictures and scores to Cara Thomas. 6 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
The steep fine increase follows the June launch of the Transport for London Lane Rental Scheme
ASK MARTIN: Thames Water’s chief executive answers your questions on page 23
Dick and Dom with professional flusher Rob Smith
DICK & DOM In da Sewer Clean-cut and crazy children’s presenters Dick and Dom were filmed going deep underground with Thames Water’s sewer flushers BY CRAIG RANCE
he cameras were rolling as the sewers under London’s Northumberland Avenue welcomed two cheeky new apprentice flushers last month – CBBC presenters Dick and Dom. Used to firing slime at each other in the comfort of a television studio, the ‘In da Bungalow’ hosts who play on their craziness on screen found the thought of wading through the “gunge” of the city’s residents a much more daunting prospect. The mad hatters were filming for a new children’s series called ‘Absolute Genius’ which focuses on some of the brilliant engineers who made Britain great.
“THAT WAS DISGUSTING. I’VE GOT FULL RESPECT FOR PEOPLE WHO DO THAT FOR A DAY JOB” Dick let’s Dom know what he thinks of the smell
Both said the whole experience was “grim”
The marvel of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the man responsible for the sewers under the capital, was the reason a seven-strong television crew lingered nervously around the entrance to the bowels of the city. As Dick entered the depths, he cried to his buddy: “Oh mate, you need to smell this. It’s awful.” The wise-cracking duo then disappeared into the gloom under the stewardship of Thames Water’s own ‘celebrity flusher’ Rob Smith to start their short and not so sweet apprenticeship. Three quarters of an hour later, they emerged changed men. Both described the conditions as “grim”, and both Dick and Dom bowed their heads to the sewermen who do this every day. “That was disgusting,” said Dom. “I’ve got full respect for people who do that for a day job.” “Air! Fresh air,” his mate Dick added, while taking in a deep breath of overground London. “Get a lungful of that. It’s like perfume!” Look out for their unique and slightly wacky insight into what it was like on CBBC soon.
Reservoir plans are approved Plans to build homes on the redundant Bath Road reservoir in Reading been approved by the local council after a decade of debate. The submission for 78 homes, including the conversion of the water tower and pumping station into 10 separate dwellings, has attracted fierce opposition from residents in the past who have campaigned tirelessly against the development. The application was reduced in number from 96 properties following a rejection by the Government Planning Inspectorate back in 2010. Since then, the Thames Water property team have been working carefully with developers Bewley Homes to ensure the updated plans met the legal requirements. Alec Arrol, development planning manager, said: “The Bath Road reservoir site became redundant to the needs of the population in Reading back in 1996. This has been a long process but we are relieved this site can now become part of the future of the town, providing much-needed accommodation to families in the area. “Bewley Homes will now be able to develop this into an area everyone in Reading can be proud of and they are committed to working with local residents to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.”
www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 7
Live chat boosts online experience Live chat launched on the Thames Water website last month. Customer communications executive HELEN MAIN, who has been instrumental in setting it up, explains all Live chat is a service offered to customers on selected billing pages of our website. If an agent is available, a pop-up will appear asking if they need help. The customer can then accept the chat and ask their question live to one of our agents. The agents can answer questions, help the customer fill in a webform, or go into their account to solve bill or metering queries, for example. The service aims to solve questions or issues first time round, cutting out the frustrations of emails or letters. It also means we’re bringing ourselves in line with a new generation of digitally savvy customers who expect to be able to have their issues solved while browsing our website, and we aim to meet this expectation. By introducing live chat and resolving issues and questions first time, it prevents further unnecessary correspondence with the customer, meaning less complaints, less repeat calls, and therefore less SIM points. By ensuring the question has been answered on a channel of their choice, we aim to improve customer satisfaction, and therefore our CSAT score. With our help, customers also become more aware of what they can do on our website, which may also lead to more self-service by customers. Agents are now becoming used to chatting to more than one customer at a time. Out of the post-chat surveys we have received, most customers are scoring five out of five for how useful they found the experience, with a resounding ‘yes’ for ‘has the agent answered your question to your satisfaction’. We have received over 90 chats a day for the first two days of go live, shared between five agents. As the trial continues, we will review the volumes of customers using the service, and start increasing the number of pages we offer it on.
8 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
Crossrail will link Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, via Greater London, to Essex and Kent
Impact of Crossrail across the capital is enormous So the Olympics is over and it’s back to the day job, right? No chance. Here comes Crossrail – the largest construction project in Europe – says senior project manager STEVE WILKINSON Crossrail and its 42km of tunnels, eight new stations, five portals and numerous shafts is charging under London. With a budget four times that of our Thames Tideway Tunnel scheme, the impact across the capital is enormous and will be until completion in 2018. The project is much shallower too, with digging from the surface down to only 40 metres below ground, rather than the 65m to 70m depths of the super sewer. This means much more of London to contend with – things like buildings, cellars, railways, archaeology (including skeletons) and of course pipes. Developer services is charged with working in partnership with this engineering goliath and its eight tunnel boring machines (TBMs). A project team involving Thames Water, CH2M Hill, Hyder Consulting and Arcadis has engaged with Crossrail over the last three years to ensure our assets are either moved, strengthened or monitored in time. It is all about good planning. In total, 11,000 pipes have been reviewed, both clean and waste, including Sir Joseph Bazelgette’s ‘original five’ and the London Water Ring Main. Thames is the dominant utility impacted by the project, with 92 per cent of Crossrail’s entire utility protection budget being targeted on our assets. The dedicated team of 25, plus a further design group of 15, continues to support work right across London from Pudding Mill Lane to Royal Oak. While much work has been completed successfully, and no major operational events have arisen to date, at the time of going to
print (touch wood!), we are now in the most challenging phase of the project. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Sussex Gardens. Two TBMs are due to pass under Paddington Station this month and then onwards under 10 cast iron, strategic trunk mains, all within the space of 500m. Time has not allowed for these to be replaced beforehand, so Crossrail approached us to help find an alternative solution to enable their TBMs to remain on programme – avoiding costly delays (reportedly £1 million per week). With great and continuing support from our colleagues in asset management and operations, we have collaborated with the local Crossrail site team and their contractors to implement a novel mixture of mains replacement, throttling in, rezoning and monitoring, all completed in record time. And it had to be. With the TBM’s arrival imminent, this has proved a fantastic example of how Thames Water, Crossrail and our contractors can work together to deliver a clear goal. There’s only one problem... there’s another 30 trunk mains that might need the same treatment!
Benefits of Crossrail
Crossrail will not only provide London and the South East with a world-class, high capa city affordable railway, it will ease congestio n on London’s public transport system, prov ide better access to the capital and also generate significant employment opportunities .
Twitter – one good, one bad
Happy customer: W oohoo! Water saving gadgets arriv ed from @ thameswater #eco warrior
with media manager Simon Evans
Each month BH drills down on the news and issues affecting Britain’s biggest water firm
A hack’s delight Hacks the length of Fleet Street reacted with delight to our Freshu story (page 10). “Obviously a serious issue. Or should that be tissue,” said our man at the Evening Standard. Meanwhile our trusted scribbler at the Daily Mail also vowed to file a story, adding: “Would hate to see a good yarn like that go down the toilet…” Oh, and what a delightful image of Di Addison.
Misconnections: “I blame the Poles…” Four million litres of sewage is wrongly entering rivers across the Thames region via drains wrongly pumped into surface-water sewers, reported the Evening Standard. Nasty stuff. Displaying a distinct lack of mental horsepower and a generous helping of xenophobia, an infuriated reader commented online: “We have so many plumbers from Poland, which is odd because I didn’t think there was any plumbing in Poland.” BH despairs.
Modern travel After this funny image was tweeted in our direction by a customer, BH at once checked the company’s health and safety protocols. But, to his shock, he could find nothing specifically relating to horse-drawn carts. Despite this absence of direction BH is comforted to know that this gent made sure to don a Thames Water hi-vis jacket before taking the reins.
Unhappy customer: I’ve been patient but the lea k outside my house has still not been fixed. Today I saw a child almost slip in the ice. What next?
Phil got taken for a Stride in the media
H likes a screaming headline as much as the next ex-journo, but sometimes things go a bit too far, even for me. This week’s special comes from the London Council which recently entertained us all with ‘Hammersmith Bridge will be falling down’. Their latest special spin took Phil Stride and the Thames Tideway Tunnel team’s suggestion that a few residents living closest to the main drive sites might be offered
temporary relocation and gave us this: “Thames Water’s ‘super-sewer’ stink-pipe is set to force hundreds of south
Dick and Dom get down and dirty CBBC presenters Dick and Dom were given a tour of the sewers under London by chief flusher Rob Smith. And, like effluent cannoning through the Northern Outfall, so flowed the duo’s delight afterwards. “The sewer experience has been the only thing Dick and Dom have been able to talk about since,” gushed their producer. “We have been clearing entire hotel dining rooms with our dinner conversation. Please send my thanks on to Rob Smith and his team. Rob was excellent on camera – he’s a pro!” Big Rob confided to BH: “It’s great that Dick and Dom are doing this. I tell my grandkids to bin it – don’t block it and they just ignore me. As soon as Dick and Dom say it, it’s gospel.”
Fulham residents out of their homes in the biggest evacuation since the Second World War.” Blimey.
In recent weeks BH has been increasingly concerned by the volume of corporate jargon used around the business. From this edition onwards BH will single out the most entertaining examples of business-speak waffle in a bid to hold up a mirror to all of us
Deep dive: That, BH learns, is a closer look at something. No. In fact, a deep dive is something one does once kitted out in scuba gear. Vertically integrated: Er, BH genuinely doesn’t have a clue on this one but he’s seen it used on a slide presentation about the 2014 review of prices. Big words with no meaning. Red card. Touch base: This means to speak to someone. BH gets distinctly uneasy at the prospect of touching any colleague’s base, or indeed having his own based touched. LBPI: This refers to a visible leak. Er, so, a leak you can see. You know it’s got serious when the acronym takes longer to say than the thing itself.
Money man helps tidy up He doesn’t get out of the office much. Too busy arranging big money investment deals with major financial organisations around the globe. But on the rare occasion he does get out and about, head of treasury Andrew Beaumont always finds time for a medicinal pick-me-up. Here he is snapped helping with October’s Reading RESCUE clean-up – with a can of super-strength (8.4%) K cider, which he claims he found empty. See next month’s Source for full Reading RESCUE report. www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 9
Fresh way to wipe out sewer blockages
Commercial consultant Di Addison with Freshu, which is used on normal toilet paper
A trend among British adults towards using wet wipes in combination with loo roll is forcing Thames Water to take drastic action BY SIMON EVANS
recent study shows the wet wipe market is growing at faster than 15 per cent a year – and for Thames Water that’s a problem. For wet wipes block sewers, adding to an annual bill of more than £12 million spent clearing around 80,000 blockages a year on the 108,000km network across London and the Thames Valley. But a solution is at hand: Freshu, a new antibacterial foaming gel that those so inclined can apply to their loo roll to achieve the same wiping experience as non-biodegradable, pre-moistened wipes, but without the sewerblocking consequences. “Freshu is used on normal toilet paper so it won’t block your pipes or ours,” said Nick Sumption, head of affinity partnerships at Thames Water. “We never expected to be discussing this but we have to adapt to the changes in our customers’ behaviour, and research indicates that using wet wipes is a growing phenomenon. “The problem with wet wipes is that they do not break down like loo roll does, and they can cause nasty blockages in our sewers, which can in some cases lead to sewage backing up into people homes and gardens.”
Wet wipes’ main partner in sewer abuse crime is food fat. It slips down sinks easily when warm but sets into hard “fatbergs” when it cools down in the sewers. Wipes then stick to the congealed fat causing more serious blockages. Thames Water suggests that by using Freshu we can all “keep the wipes out of the pipes!” The velvety smooth foam, which can be ordered from the Thames Water website (www. thameswater.co.uk), is the brainchild of former Oxford University student Dr Daniel Darg,
“A SQUIRT OF FRESHU GIVES TOILET ROLL ALL THE CLEANSING FIREPOWER OF A WIPE BUT WITH NONE OF THE SEWERBLOCKING RISK” who came up with the idea to moisten loo roll without it disintegrating as an alternative to wet wipes in 2009. His mentor, volunteer chaplain Dr Kenneth Barnes, liked the idea and before long Freshu Ltd was born. Dr Barnes, now speaking as managing
director of Freshu, said: “We are pleased to join Thames Water in the on-going battle against sewer abuse. “If used at all pre-moistened wipes should be binned, not flushed, as per Thames Water’s ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ motto. However, with a bottle of Freshu on hand, why would you need to? A squirt of Freshu gives toilet roll all the cleansing firepower of a wipe but with none of the sewer-blocking risk.” The water firm is keener than ever for customers not to engage in sewer abuse, having acquired 60 per cent more sewers on October 1 last year following a law change that transferred ownership of privately-owned sections of sewer to water companies. Thames Water and Freshu kicked off a 10-day roadshow tour last month – starting in Kingston-on-Thames before moving on to Bicester in Oxfordshire and then Enfield in north London – where passers-by will be given free samples, and invited to hand in their sewer-blocking wet wipes as part of a ‘wet wipe amnesty’. Freshu 50ml £2.90 – 100 applications Freshu 150ml £3.99 – 300 applications
New bills coming soon to a doormat near you The first batch of new and improved Thames Water bills will be hitting customers’ doormats from the end of January. The move is designed to reduce the amount of calls from customers asking for their bill to be explained. Customer satisfaction had been suffering because feedback suggested bills could be difficult to understand. The new bill will now be straightforward, 10 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
easier to read, and will really explain to customers what their charges relate to. Customer communications executive Helen Main said: “It will feature a clear bill total, brand new icons in line with our brand refresh, and a splash of colour to help draw the customer to the most important sections. “Customers will also be able to understand their bill even better using our new online
interactive bill pages, which will allow customers to scroll around a typical bill and find out more about each section – including definitions of certain phrases, ways they can pay, and how we work out their bill.” Customers will also soon be able to log in and view their most recent bills online via a new service that will be introduced at the same time as the new bill.
My job for the past six years has been to re-evaluate our borehole archive, which contains 47,000 separate reports on soil and rock conditions below ground. This is vital information for a largely subterranean business like ours, with our 67,000 miles of sewer and 20,000 miles of water pipes, and more under construction.
Graham Minchinton inside his borehole archive at Ashford Common
Deep inside the borehole archive Data technician GRAHAM MINCHINTON has singlehandedly cut borehole searches down from five days to under three hours and saved Thames Water £10 million By STUART WHITE
his is Graham Minchinton’s borehole archive at Ashford Common water treatment works. He is the only person in the world who knows what is in it, and how to use it. So far he has meticulously worked through each of these dusty old files to identify 20,000 boreholes each to be transferred on to the Thames Water geographical information system (GIS). Boreholes cost £5,000 a pop so this has saved the company £10m. Given the labour intensity of the project, he believes it will take another four to five years to finish off. “Although this may well leave me out of a job, I’ll have an incredible sense of achievement, having finished a project that was unheard of a few years ago,” he said. He also said that had he not been around the archive would probably have been scrapped a long time ago: “This
job was made for me – I’ve always worked in mapping, I love it, and never get bored.” Graham is 61 years old, lives a mile from his second home, looks a lot like the Fonz from Happy Days and started working for Thames Water in the technical records department at New River Head in 1986. Apart from an eight-year stint in Perth, Australia, where the weather was “too hot” and he “felt like a tourist”, he has stayed loyal to the company throughout his career. After showing me around, he explained more about his labour of love…
My new-look borehole archive will eventually contain more than 7,000 geotechnical ground investigation reports and 40,000 borehole logs. I ensure all jobs are listed geographically and by map coordinates so borehole searches can be carried out with accuracy and efficiency. With over 3,000 geotechnical reports still to be scanned there is a lot of valuable untapped data lying idle. Much of the data I have to gather and collate is on old bits of paper buried in long-forgotten, dust-covered project files, some dating back to the 1860s. Once I have the data I feed it into the Thames Water geographical information system (GIS). The logic is that if all the key information is on one quick-access system then boreholes can be found speedily with minimal fuss, avoiding duplication of log entries and saving time and money. To this day I have single-handedly captured, collated, modified and processed over 20,000 borehole logs to be uploaded as point data on to the Thames Water corporate GIS ViewTool and GIS update systems. At £5,000 each, the logs identified so far are worth £10m. Searches that used to take five days now take three hours. Our customers include engineering design teams and reservoir safety teams who need to know what soil or rock type they might encounter below ground. The borehole data can also be very useful for major schemes like the Thames Tideway Tunnel. www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 11
Fancy dress winners VMR Cowboys and Indians
Craig Bennett loves a banana
High five for the Winners Team Comet
Dazzling Team Comet fly round in record time as graduate-run event raises over £8,000 for WaterAid
Stephen Harris does the Mobot 12 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
ntrepid teams raced five miles through central London while carrying 20 litres of water for WaterAid. Dressed up as toilets, monkeys and superheroes, the 12 teams of between four and six took part in Thames Water’s annual 5-20 Challenge to raise money to support the charity’s life-saving work in Bangladesh. In an activity designed to mirror the daily struggle many Bangladeshis face to get access to clean water, race participants pushed, pulled or carried their water past landmarks including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. Organiser Jon Biruls said: “Almost half of the population of Bangladesh doesn’t have access to safe sanitation, and
water-related diseases are responsible for nearly a quarter of all deaths. Our money really does make a difference. “The day was a great success. Some of the fancy dress was great as you can see from the pictures and the team building challenges seemed to go down really well. “We are still waiting on the final amount raised but it looks to be just over £8,000, which means in two years the event has raised over £30,000 for WaterAid.” A new course record of exactly two hours was set by Team Comet to win the challenge, with Pain in the Assets and VMR Indians second and third. Organisers went ape for the The Only Way is Monkey’s ‘funniest team picture’ at Parliament Square, top fundraisers
Entertainers, famous people and converted prisons SONIA RANA was one of the International WaterAid Princesses in the Comms Girls team. She tells Source what it was like to take part in the 5-20 Challenge
Runners-up Pain in the Assets
Super Sewer Hero Sarah Dixon
The Only Way is Monkey’s funniest team picture
GERS with nearly £1,500 in the bank were the Comms Girls 4 WaterAid, while VMR Cowboys and Indians’ combined effort won best fancy dress.
WaterAid Lottery The winner of September’s WaterAid Lottery jackpot of £800 is CJH Challis. Runners-up in the monthly draw, each receiving £25, were: Sarah Aris, Stanley Hall, Stephen Wilkinson, Louis Quartly, JE Peace, Nick Hewett, Steven Quinlivan, AP Lourenco, Stephen Barden, D Wathen, DMJ Martin, Kevin Farnan, Christopher Thompson, JF Brooks, Daniel Gorman, JMB Hyder, Keith Allen, PM Drake, FJ Luther, Michelle Farrington, Helen Newman and Kelvin Stagg.
Thames Tideway Tunnellers
Dressing-up, moving around the heart of London, ‘hangingout’ with the girls and having a bit of a giggle along the way… sounds like a great day out! But this was very serious. This was all about raising money to provide clean water and sanitation for four Bangladeshi towns most in need. And raising £1,468 for this great cause is what made the day worthwhile. The 5-20 Challenge was brilliant – I’d recommend it. The experience kicked off with us Comms Girls trying to gently persuade those around us to part with their hard-earned cash. But when we could see, just days before the event, that we still had some work to do to reach our initial £600 fundraising target, it was time to take our efforts up a gear. So off we went, picking up the phone, sending out more emails and cornering our friends at work! We keenly watched the figure on our Just Giving page – and it was a great buzz when this suddenly started shooting up. So we just kept going, trying to raise more money. Every donation was greatly received so thank you to all those that kindly helped. The 5-20 race kicked off at our Battersea Water Treatment Works. After being loaded up with up to 20 litres of water, off we went with a map and a few clues to navigate us around various attraction points and through several challenges. It was all really good fun. Entertainers, famous people and converted prisons were just some of the things we had to search for. We went through places like Trafalgar Square and Westminster and had to find historical landmarks. Although we took it turn to carry the water in backpacks, it was heavy and tiring – but it’s the least we can do for people who have to do this every day!
www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 13
IN FOCUS: WASTE MANAGEMENT
IT’S A DIRTY JOB but someone’s got to do it You could say waste management consultant CHRISTINE VOUSDEN’s job is a load of rubbish, and she’d probably agree
Waste management consultant Christine Vousden
BY ANDREW BOYD
t’s not that Christine Vousden doesn’t like her role at Thames Water – far from it. But it’s a post that involves making sure the company properly disposes of a host of waste products from its hundreds of sites. Concrete, spoil and redundant equipment are among the materials she ensures are removed in a compliant and cost-effective fashion. Many waste products are disposed of under the standard framework agreements, including grit and screenings from sewage works and paper and plastic recycled from offices. Christine steps in when the company comes across materials that fall outside those processes. Among her current projects, Reading-based Christine is helping make environmental enhancements at Hogsmill sewage works in Kingston. This includes disposing of an asbestos roof from a barn once used for sludge drying, which has been levelled as part of improvements at Surbiton Lagoon. The before and after shots of the sewage channel at Beckton
Her recent work has included clearance work at Beckton sewage works, in east London. The settled sewage channel, flowing from the primary settlement tanks to the activated sludge plant, had become covered by five years of accumulated scum. The problem had got so bad that the surface looked solid and had begun to grow vegetation. The surface had to be removed to allow contractors GBM to progress with odour control work. Extension work required by the Tideway improvement project also involved cutting into the side of the channel.
“I MAKE SURE WE DISPOSE OF MATERIAL IN A LEGALLY COMPLIANT AND COSTEFFECTIVE MANNER” Operations manager Alison Williams said: “Neither piece of work could progress until the vegetation and solids were cleared. It was also a health and safety risk, so we had fenced off the whole channel. Christine did a great piece of work for us. “She has also managed the clearance of metal waste, old broken dilapidated portacabins and other waste. She has always delivered an excellent job.” Having recently moved into asset management as part of the quality and compliance team, Christine manages both capital delivery and operations waste. 14 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
Christine said: “My waste management training means I understand the waste disposal process. I assess what’s required, arrange quotations and then manage the work, making sure we dispose of material in a legally compliant and cost-effective manner.” Christine said “vast amounts” could be saved on the potential cost of asking a non-specialist contractor to do the work. Christine has recently help remove: 800 tonnes of grit from Mogden sewage works, saving about £75,000, as part of our ongoing site upgrade Disused equipment from Banbury sewage works and from our innovation centre at Kempton water treatment works Compost dumped outside Pimlico pumping station She said: “I can manage the removal of material that isn’t covered by our existing skip process, such as spoil, concrete or redundant equipment.” Christine is in regular contact with three framework waste disposal contractors, plus suppliers who specialise in testing and treating it. She said: “I’ve worked with these suppliers for several years and built up a good working relationship with them, so know they will provide us with a good service.” Her earlier work at Thames involved leading a 2009 clean-up campaign to improve the appearance and safety of 22 sites, as part of the £1 Million Site Challenge.
DAY IN THE LIFE Out of control
‘The goldfish bowl’ event room at Kemble Court during the Olympics
Listen, question and take ownership In the first of a new series, Source editor Stuart White visits Kemble Court to spend a day in the life of an OPERATIONS CONTACT CENTRE AGENT
his is the first point of contact for all customer water and wastewater issues. Clean water can be leaks, low pressure, no water or cloudy water, while sewage can be all sorts, the worst of which is sewage flooding in customers’ homes. Horrible. Some call centre agents do just waste, others clean, while others do both. The team runs 24hour shifts, seven days a week. They consider themselves to be the fourth emergency service. Key to the role of an agent is stepping into the customer’s shoes, listening, asking the right questions and making sure they get the answer right first time.
Let off steam
n, Agents follow three simple rules – liste y Ever ip. ersh own take question and customer dialling the 0845 9200800 hotline is different, every reason for job is calling is different, which means the . rding rewa but ing, challeng Every call is recorded and agents require plenty of empathy and understanding. “If someone wants to let off steam then both I let them,” said Nickie Gray, who has . ities of these qual To help improve customer service, a y number of calls are played back ever able valu with ts agen month to provide feedback and coaching.
Tales of the unexpected You never know what you are going to get asked or told. Nickie said most of the callers are reasonable but can be distr essed, although the night shift is a different ball game with a higher level of angry calle rs. She also said how one gentleman requested two tankers of hot water to be delivered to fill up his swimming pool , and he wanted to pay on Mastercard. He got very irate when she said it was not a service Thames Water supply because his pool party was that weekend.
A number of the calls are reporting incid ents out of their direct control. Agents have to react. They try and get as much informati on as possible to take the correct actions – “we have to have good listening and diagnostic skills”. Sometimes, like in a call I listened to, it is about educating the public: blockage s are caused by fat, nappies, sanitary towe ls and wipes. ‘Bin it – don’t block it’. You also have to be confident with the different systems – SAP CRM, VISTEC and GIS tools. All agents have two screens on the go while others on the same floor have six. Rumours are there is a competition running to see who can work the mos t screens at once.
Agent Shafiq Khan
The bigger picture Before relocating to Kemble Court the response teams were dotted around the t region and not all on one floor. An even on mati infor while yed dela be ld response wou the into go all they now but ted, colla was l– event room – nicknamed the goldfish bow d. to get things sorte The duty manager will call a meeting of the relevant people and gain a quick come understanding of what has happened to e, mov This egy. strat and ion up with a solut and in 2010, has done wonders for efficiency two from down nse taken a typical event respo tes. minu hours to just 20 The 24-hour team manager is also responsible for the initial customer communication during an event. They will es record a phone message, update Tham to give Water Live and the website homepage ible. our customers as much information as poss
Controller Stuart Connolly with Tracey Newton checking out the weather information screens
www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 15
Upgrade to protect rare chalk stream Wantage sewage works has been upgraded to help improve the quality of water in Letcombe Brook, a treasured chalk stream BY CRAIG RANCE
hames Water’s £5.4 million upgrade at Wantage has increased the storm-overflow capacity and significantly reduced the chances of sewage discharging to the Letcombe Brook after heavy rain. Increased treatment capacity at the works, which currently serves 25,000 people, will also allow for future predicted development and population growth, and will ensure that treated wastewater going from the works into the brook remains of an exceptionally high quality. Chalk streams are globally rare and Letcombe Brook is home to protected native species such as white-clawed crayfish, bullheads, brook lampreys and water voles. The stream’s natural beauty made an impression on poet laureate John Betjeman, who wrote about Letcombe Brook in his poem ‘On Leaving Wantage 1972’, describing his enjoyment of duck weed undulating and mudgrey trout darting away upon his approach. The Wantage project supports Defra’s national ‘Love Your River’ campaign, which urges people and organisations everywhere to value their local rivers and look after them. Richard Aylard, Thames Water’s director of sustainability, said: “The works operate
Open up the gates After two years of construction, Mogden’s £140 million extension is taking shape. Around half of the new works were switched on in September and engineers recently opened a number of eight foot tall penstocks or gates (pictured) to allow sewage flows into the new works for the first time. The team are now gearing up to gradually switch on the remainder of the new works by the end of March 2013. At this point, the site’s treatment capacity will have been boosted by 50 per cent so it can cope better after heavy rain. It will also meet much tighter discharge standards recently set by the Environment Agency. Mogden is one of five sewage treatment works being upgraded during AMP5 to help create a cleaner, healthier River Thames. 16 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
The statue of poet John Betjeman, who wrote about Letcombe Brook, at St Pancras station
well at the moment, but what we’re doing is increasing the capacity to make sure it can continue to do so in the future. “Treated wastewater makes up part of the flow of Letcombe Brook, so keeping the quality high, means a healthy river downstream. “You can see this ‘knock-on’ effect, with all the bugs, birds and other wildlife that are thriving in this globally rare natural habitat.” The project involved installing three new storm pumps, each weighing a tonne, and more than half a kilometre of storm discharge pipe, meaning the works can cope with increased wastewater flows during heavy rain. This will help reduce the likelihood of sewer flooding as the works will be able to take sewage into the plant at a quicker rate.
“TREATED WASTEWATER MAKES UP PART OF THE FLOW, SO KEEPING THE QUALITY HIGH, MEANS A HEALTHY RIVER DOWNSTREAM”
And a new dedicated sewage sludgethickening plant and sludge tanker reception facility will increase the capacity of sewage that can be treated in Wantage. This will improve the quality and efficiency of the treatment process, making the final outflow into the stream even cleaner. Site manager Stuart Burnley said: “It was a large scale construction job. The three new storm pumps had to be lowered into the storm pumping chamber by a 22-tonne excavator. “The concrete sections of the storm discharge pipe are each 2.5 metres long and 1.3 tonnes in weight, and it involved them being laid in sequence over half a kilometre and then bolted together. “The internal diameter of the pipe is 675mm, and we have constructed a new headwall at the point the pipe reaches the watercourse to support it – to prevent the riverbank collapsing under the weight.”
More ideas than Doc Brown Great Scott! ‘Back to the Future’ conference gets capital delivery talking about AMP6 BY HEATHER LEWIS-JONES
room-full of capital delivery staff were treated to a team event with a difference at the AMP6 conference at Kempton Park Racecourse. Inspired by the time travelling theme of the classic 1985 film ‘Back to the Future’, the aim was to gather ideas from the 250 participants about how to deliver the next capital programme by reflecting on experiences so far in AMP5. To get the creative juices flowing, the conference venue was decked out with film-related props and scenery, complete with Doc Brown’s iconic time travelling car, the DeLorean, and an 80s soundtrack. Eight teams were taken on a journey through space and time
Craig Rance with the famous DeLorean
Head of programme delivery for tideway projects Nick Fawcett
What to ditch in AMP6
as they visited workshops on big ideas, innovation, collaboration and sustainability, equipped only with a rucksack to carry things they wanted to take with them into the future – anything from new ways of working to cutting edge technologies. Although the day had a lighthearted twist, there was a serious agenda – getting everyone in capital delivery sharing ideas about how to deliver a world class AMP6 programme. Capital delivery director Lawrence Gosden said: “We know what we’re striving for won’t change. We want to deliver excellent standards in safety, the best possible experience for our customers and exceptional value for money. “But what has yet to be defined is how we’ll achieve this in AMP6. No-one knows what the future
holds but we know our values and we know our strengths. “Capital delivery is a team with a huge amount of experience and knowledge. The aim of the conference was to get people talking to make sure we’re taking full advantage of all this expertise as we make our plans for AMP6.” All the ideas proposed at the conference are now being looked at in greater detail and will be combined
with a wealth of other information gathered from market research and stakeholders to help shape the AMP6 delivery model.
Gold for two million accident free man-hours Capital delivery contractors GBM has been credited with a gold award in the prestigious Occupational Health and Safety Awards run by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). GBM successfully worked over two million man-hours without incident, demonstrating their zero-compromise approach to health and safety. GBM are a joint venture company who are helping to deliver Thames Water’s AMP5 improvements on a large number of operational sites across London. Scott Wilkins, head of programme delivery for London process, said: “This
award reflects an incredible achievement by every single person engaged on the programme. “Reaching this level of performance takes hard work. I am very proud of what the team has achieved – it has been and will continue to be recognised as one of the great moments since working together.”
www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 17
‘I’m told you don’t even notice the smell’ KATE ORGAN is one of 23 new graduates who joined Thames Water in September. Here, the Crossness sewage treatment works assistant area liaison engineer explains what her first month has been like after moving to south east London from Ireland
hen I first applied to Thames Water I had no idea how much I would immediately love my job and working for the company. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in construction management and engineering from the University of Limerick, Ireland, and obtained a masters in infrastructure engineering at the University of Ulster in Belfast. I applied to Thames because the graduate programme was impressive but, much more than that, the plans for the future are very exciting and I wanted to be a part of it all.
One month later The first four weeks have been filled with nervousness, excitement, hard work and lots of fun. I had expected to work hard – but didn’t realise how much I would enjoy it. Induction week in Reading was an opportunity for the new graduates to meet chief executive Martin Baggs, our managers and get an overall
view of how different departments interact. I spent the week taking in lots of information while getting to know my fellow graduates. We all come from very diverse educational and cultural backgrounds but it was immediately apparent that the recruitment process works hard to find people who fit well together and into the company. We were also introduced to the graduates of 2011 who were able to put our minds at ease over so many different aspects of our new job and answered those questions we felt too silly to ask.
Scary amounts to learn Overall it has been a good month – there is a lot of information to take in and sometimes it’s scary to think how much I have yet to learn. The team at Crossness have worked hard to ensure I have everything I need and are always on hand to help. And, eventually, I’m told you don’t even notice the smell!
First day at Crossness
There was no time for being nervous as the site was in the process of dealing with sewage flooding on a nearby golf course when I arrived. I shadowed my line manager and observed how to deal with the contractors, stakeholders and manage the issue to resolution. I even got up close and personal with some raw slud ge! For the rest of the week, I did several site inductions, discussed my objective s for the coming six months with my line manager, met the rest of the teams and attended a lot of high leve l management meetings. Although I didn’t always understand what was going on, the exposure to a real life site made me understand my role better and what I needed to concentrate on to be ready for the full time role in January.
NEXT MONTH: Another 2012 graduate shares their first experiences of life at Thames Water
Dawn Hauge-Brown, left, on her way up Mount Etna in Italy
Dawn ‘survives’ volcanic mission Dawn Hauge-Brown is pictured here on her volcanic mission climbing Mount Etna. She was joined by friends Karen Edwards and Justine Thain at the end of September on the three day trek up the tallest active volcano in Europe. “I survived,” she said, on her return from Sicily. “We all enjoyed it but found parts of it very hard and scary. Unfortunately we couldn’t go right to the top due to the eruption in April.” Dawn wanted a big challenge before turning 50 and the Tadley Trio used the climb to help raise £5,000 for St Michaels Hospice in Basingstoke, who provide palliative care services to adults in North Hampshire suffering from life-limiting illnesses. She has worked for Thames Water for more than 25 years and is currently in the technical information team in Reading.
18 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
Scheme to fix Henley’s sewers Teams looking down every sewer in market town to resolve long standing sewer flooding issues once and for all BY NATALIE SLATER
hames Water is set to finish a sixweek scheme to survey more than 100 sewers in Henley-on-Thames this month to try and solve a long-standing issue with flooding and blockages. The intense programme, which will involve 20 engineers inspecting every single sewer pipe in the town, aims to resolve a decade-long history of problems.
“THIS IS ABOUT BEING PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE, STOPPING THE PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY BECOME EMERGENCIES” Bob Collington, Thames Water’s operations director, said: “We have had repeated issues over the years in Henley and short-term solutions have not solved the problem. We are now assessing the whole of the sewer network to make sure we find out exactly where the problems are and how to resolve them.” Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin, Mayor of
Michael Cathorne with Pat Dunne of Enviro Waste
Henley-on-Thames, added: “It is a very thorough programme of work and I am particularly pleased that my constituents can come and ask any questions they may have or raise any issues directly with Thames Water in person as they will be outside the town hall every Wednesday.” Thames Water will be working with Enviro Waste to complete the work, which started on October 15. A Thames Water team will be on hand every Wednesday in Market Place while work is ongoing to answer any questions people may have. Michael Cathorne, who is leading the project, said: “This is on a huge scale and one we would not have been able to do without the support and dedication of our contractors Enviro Waste. “By working together, we have been able to plan meticulously what we’re doing so when the programme started, it was all systems go. “One of things we’ve really been working on is improving the way we deal with customers so if they come up to us and say they’ve got a problem – we go and sort it. This is about being proactive not reactive, stopping the problems before they become emergencies.”
Price review ambassadors
The business strategy team is calling for ‘price review ambassadors’ to help spread the word about the company’s “most important” project. Teams across the business, in asset management, customer services, commercial and strategy and regulation, are currently grafting away on detailed plans to submit to the regulator Ofwat for the 2014 review of prices. In order to compile the best business plan for the period 2015 to 2020, they are asking people from every department in the company to volunteer to be price review ambassadors. Sarah McMath, head of strategic business planning, said: “We are looking for willing volunteers around the business to tell the price review story to their team-members, so there is an increased level of understanding across the company. “In the same way we have Smart IT and WAMI ‘super-users’, we are looking for a dynamic band of charismatic folks to be our price review ambassadors.” The plan is to appoint the ambassadors in December. Sarah added: “For many people at Thames the price review is an obscure topic worked on by a bunch of pointyheaded economists using complex terms like ‘frontier shift’ and ‘totex’. “We often refer to it as PR14, an acronym which immediately turns some people off. Well, that shouldn’t be the case, and we’re going to change all that. We’re all about telling this story in plain English. “Getting our plans for the next fiveyear period right is more important than anything else we do. It’s about us getting the right amount of funding from customers’ bills to run our business efficiently, in a way that delivers value for their hard-earned cash. “Without money we can’t pay employees’ wages, run our day-to-day activities or fund must-do improvements to our pipes, sewers and other facilities.” Email ‘Ask PR14’ to express your interest using the subject line ‘Ambassador’
Scottish lunch to celebrate licenses BY LAURA HALL The business to business retail team hosted a Scottish themed lunch at three Thames Water offices last month to celebrate the recently acquired water licences. The licences enable large commercial customers in England and Wales, and any sized business customer in Scotland, to choose their water supplier (and wastewater in Scotland). The event on October 4 was hosted in Clearwater Court, Walnut Court and Kemble Court, where amid Scottish flags, bagpipe music and lashings of tartan, members of the team answered questions about the licences, the commercial market, and how they plan to win
over commercial customers. The Scottish themed menu included Scotch broth, Aberdeen angus burgers, neaps and tatties and Scotch pies, while deep fried Mars bars with custard were also a big hit. A quiz distributed on the day, which grilled participants on famous landmarks and historic facts from above the border had a suitable winner. Hilary Murgatroyd, originally from Glasgow, answered the most correct answers and won herself a hamper containing an assortment of Scottish items, including a bottle of whisky.
If you weren’t able to attend the lunch but have a question for the team please email b2bretail@ thameswater.co.uk www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 19
A hat-trick of wildlife rarities
Three rare species, including one of the most scarce bumblebees in the country, have been found on Thames Water sites across London in recent months. The first spot was a cream bordered green pea moth – a ‘Nationally Scarce’ species – at Kempton Nature Reserve. Biodiversity field officer Cathy Purse said it is possible they are breeding on the willow scrub as three were discovered there. She said: “The moth trapping session at Kempton saw lots of typical London moths but the cream bordered green pea really stole the show. “The next stage is to determine whether Kempton is a breeding site for these rare moths and how the habitat can be further improved to help the population increase.” The next special sighting came at Coppermills water treatment works where a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species bumblebee was found. The moss carder bee is both a London BAP species and is on the London Species action plan. Cathy said: “This is great news for Coppermills and just shows how good the banks of the site are for wildlife. This proves that wildlife can thrive on even the biggest of operational sites.” And even better was the discovery of an exceptionally rare bumblebee at Crossness Nature Reserve. The shrill carder bumblebee is both UK scarce and also on the London BAP. Cathy said: “The shrill carder is the second rarest bumblebee in the UK so to find it at Crossness is just amazing.”
Poster pond Pinkhill thriving
Pinkhill is probably still one of the best monitored sets of new ponds anywhere in the world, says MATT PRIOR
hames Water has been working with the Environment Agency and Pond Conservation for over 20 years to help wildlife that depends on countryside ponds. Pinkhill Meadow Nature Reserve at Farmoor in Oxfordshire is one of the success stories of the programme. A complex of over 40 ponds has been created using the knowledge Pond Conservation gained from a national survey, which showed just how important it is for a pond to be free from pollution. It is also important to be able to provide a wide variety of ponds – some of which can be dry
What is the Million Ponds Project? The Million Ponds Project aims to create an extensive network of healthy new ponds across the UK, reversing a century of pond loss. The first phase of the project – which started in August 2008 – to create 5,000 clean water ponds in England and Wales was a success. The plan after 2012 is to build upon this project so that, ultimately, the UK once again has at least one million ponds – not including garden ponds.
Shrill carder bumblebee
Want to get involved? Thames Water staff can help through Pond Conservation’s ‘Flagship Pond’ project. ain Volunteers care for ponds that often cont also can and ies spec ed nger enda rare or such help with practical pond management, h whic val, remo n tatio as dredging or vege pond thy heal a ng taini main in is essential environment. To support Pond Conservation’s work visit s or www.pondconservation.org.uk/supportu 49. 4832 5 0186 call
during the summer and wet in the winter. As the first place where the results of this research have been put into practice, Pinkhill has emerged as the poster pond for the programme.
“EVEN AFTER 20 YEARS, THE PONDS ARE STILL GAINING NEW SPECIES” Matt Prior, Farmoor Ranger team leader for Thames Water, said: “The project here has been so successful because instead of trying to pack a lot of features into a single pond, we set up a group of ponds. Some of them were permanent, some temporary, and some were seasonal ponds. “Pinkhill is probably still the one of the best monitored sets of new ponds anywhere in the world, containing exceptionally rich wildlife habitats. Even after 20 years, the ponds are still gaining new species.”
Waterbirds and volunteers respond to cold BY CLAUDIA INNES
Cream bordered green pea moth 20 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
Latest figures collected for the British Trust for Ornithology show the internationally important numbers of wildfowl and waders that use English wetlands in winter. The severe conditions experienced last winter demonstrated that UK wetlands, including Thames Water’s London supply reservoirs, act as especially important refuges for birds forced out of frozen continental Europe. Wetland Bird Survey volunteers braved the freezing winter of 2010/11 to count England’s
internationally important waterbird populations on each of the company’s London reservoirs. This fantastic effort is fundamental in helping to understand the response to periods of unexpectedly cold weather. The counts also contribute to the International Waterbird Census which will help in the understanding of changes taking place across the wider world. The results demonstrate how important Thames Water’s protected areas are for the wintering waterbirds.
Word is finally getting out about the many benefits of angling, says Will Barnard
Why can fishing be so good for young people? The answer is easy for angling development co-ordinator WILL BARNARD. Here he talks, from experience, of the positive influence fishing can have on youngsters
always get asked the same question: “Why is fishing so good for young people?” People just don’t see the point or the benefit, but to me the answer is easy. Anglers have been telling each other for years how fishing has made them appreciate the environment or kept them out of trouble as kids. How they now find it the ultimate stress reliever from work or home or indeed anything else on their mind. It’s only in recent times that word has got out about the many benefits through a three year study – that I played a small part in – conducted by a group called Substance. With support from the Big Lottery Fund, and various schools, police groups, the angling trade and community members, we now have a report so succinct it would be enough for me to simply point you to the website: www.anglingresearch.org.uk. No one is claiming the world’s problems could be solved by simply putting a fishing rod in the hands of everyone under the age of 16, but what is very apparent is the holistic approach to angling can
promote self realisation and awareness of others. Once a passion for angling is ignited, whether your participation sees you ambling along at the pace of a slow deep river, or you find yourself exploring your hobby as if floating on a salmon river in spate, one thing is apparent, you move forward. This is where we start with disengaged young people. These kids didn’t decide at the age of three to emulate cartoon baddies on TV. Without raising
“VULNERABLE CHILDREN CAN EASILY BE INTRODUCED TO POSITIVE ROLE MODELS THROUGH ANGLING PROGRAMS” the topic of ‘where it all went wrong’, often people do lose their way without a positive role model. This leads to a lack of trust for seniority which in turn leads to a wider gap in the generations. Often, the first people to show these wayward souls any apparent kindness and a feeling of acceptance are those from a criminal background. The material reward isn’t what keeps the
youngsters going back; it’s the sense of belonging and being part of something. At this point, I should add that I have been affected by crime greatly on many levels and my beliefs are certainly not born out of a sheltered upbringing or a quest for Utopia. What I do believe in, however, is that everybody deserves a chance, and I don’t mean a half hearted telling off after it’s too late to change a behaviour pattern. The best way to create chances and offer this opportunity is to do so before young people begin to lose connection with us. Simple. Vulnerable children from as young as five or six can easily be introduced to positive role models through angling programs. The chances are that by 16 many would have given up fishing but their knowledge of the environment, respect for others, and all the other things that never became too alien from an early age will pull them through. You never know, they may end up working for a big corporation running angling development programs. www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 21
Retired electric pump given new lease of life Kew Bridge Pumping Station kit to form a centre piece within new gallery at revamped water supply museum BY STUART WHITE
ew Bridge Steam Museum took delivery of a retired Thames Water electric pump dating back from 1986 last month. The Kew Bridge Pumping Station kit will now be going on display at the museum under its Lottery funded Project Aquarius revamp. Thames Water in conjunction with contractors GBMJV and developers St James Homes/Lee Demolition pulled out all the stops to restore the equipment for future generations.
“WE HAVE A RANGE OF ELECTRICAL PUMPS AND GENERATING EQUIPMENT FROM 1900 THROUGH TO THE PRESENT DAY” The museum’s Richard Albanese said: “The demolition crew did a great job and we are very grateful to have the electric pump for display at our site next door to the old pumping station. “Normally we would not contemplate preserving an item as modern as this, but
The dismantling and removal of one of the old electric pumps from the Kew Bridge Pumping Station
it will form a centre piece within a new gallery we are currently constructing which will show the historical use of electricity in London’s water supply. “We have brought together a range of electrical pumps and generating equipment spanning the years from 1900 through to the present day which will complement the older steam, internal combustion, water and animal pumping plant technologies we already have on display and working. This provides the final link in the story.” The 1986 building and plant was always expected to have a fairly short working life covering a phased period of Thames Water improvement works to other sites, ring main shafts and distribution systems, which have been completed over several years. The final phase of was to put new pumps into the Kew Bridge ring main shaft, with additional capacity to allow the 1986 station to be shut down. This was completed earlier this year with the pumps and balancing reservoir being finally decommissioned in May. Subsequently, much of the site has since been sold off to St James Homes and the demolition of the redundant structures was completed in October. 22 | november 2012 www.thameswater.co.uk
Panto’s coming (oh no it’s not) BY PAULA GROOM An all-star Thames Water cast has been assembled for this year’s pantomime. Snow White will be played by Lisa Aust and the D.W.A.R.V.E.S feature crew newcomer Daniel John. Emma Mclachan from HR is also treading the boards for the first time this year as the wonderful Rose Red, with the wicked Queen being portrayed by Justin Hulbert – who we are told just loves to dress up. And what about the Queen’s mirror, you ask? Well the ever ‘truthful speaking mirror’ is none other than the delicately spoken Melissa Blake – our customer experience process manager, who is known for telling things like it is, in a calm and sensitive manner. As well as writing and producing the pantomime Paul Aust, a change consultant from customer service, also just happens to play the handsome prince. The script is full of laughs with typical panto punch lines, so be sure to come and support this worthwhile event on January 25 and 26 at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre. More details on how to buy tickets will be released soon.
Thames Water chief executive MARTIN BAGGS answers your questions in Source every month Why do we not have in-house tankering? Why not have a small fleet of our own tankers for standby use instead of relying just on contractors? Put a number of staff who are on standby through the HGV driving test and we would then have an immediate response instead of three to four hours, preventing flooding and pollution and saving the company millions. Also, why do we not standardise our pumping station electrical panels? A pumping station is a pumping station and 99 per cent of them do exactly the same, so why is every panel different? Why is every panel crammed with unnecessary components? IAN HOWARD Technician, Aylesbury STW
Why do we not have in-house tankering? Currently we do contract out our entire tankering service for wastewater although we do have a small number of in-house tankers operating within the clean water side of the business. The current waste contracts provide a 24/7 service provision across the whole of our area and include a wide range of specialist tankers, clean up and pollution equipment as well as substantial resources when required. Additionally our contractors have made substantial investments in their fleet and equipment to fulfil these contracts. We always review our service provision strategy prior to any renewal of these contracts in order to understand if elements could be provided directly by Thames Water, particularly where we feel customer service may be improved. We will of course continue to work closely with our contractors to ensure the best possible customer service as well as reviewing our in-house provision. In answer to your second question, we are currently reviewing our asset standards which in turn will lead to a review of how best we standardise our
asset plant and equipment. We already have frameworks in place with specific manufacturers for the provision of electrical panels and wherever possible we must strive to standardise these. We need to utilise the expertise of our electricians and electrical engineers to ensure their experience of ‘what works and what is suitable’ is built into both framework agreements and design specifications. It would be great if we could standardise everything overnight but with over 5,000 pumping stations it will take a long time. For personal reasons I do not subscribe to the Thames Water Christmas parties. For this reason I would like to see my £30 donated to WaterAid. What a wonderful magnanimous gesture this would be if it was spread out over the whole organisation. There must be plenty of staff who for one reason or another cannot or will not attend so the publicity and money generated would be overwhelming. Could this happen please? GRAHAM MINCHINTON
Data Technician, Ashford Common WTW The company provides £30 per head towards an annual team celebration (which is normally used at Christmas time) to enable teams to get together on a social basis, celebrate an event, have fun, get to know each other better and help with team spirit and morale. This is key to driving employee engagement in the business and it is for these reasons I would encourage people to arrange and attend these celebrations, and why we do not offer the alternative of donating the money to WaterAid. The company is a strong supporter of WaterAid. Last year we raised £600,000 for our Thames 4 Bangladesh scheme and WaterAid’s work globally, and the aim is to increase that figure, as part of a four-year plan, to £2 million by 2015. I would absolutely encourage everybody to get involved in local events or through the many corporate fundraising events we run throughout the year – be it entering a team in the raft race or going head-to-head in the Big Fat Cheezy Quiz.
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Volunteers pretty in pink BY CLARE SANDELS
field operations team dressed in pink to help brighten up Beckton ponds as part of the Thames Water time to give scheme. Kitted out in striking hi-vis vests and saucy T-shirts, the team got down to business clearing weeds and litter from the site in east London. Their hard work was rewarded with tea and biscuits as well as a great sense of satisfaction. They were having so much fun that passers-by even stopped to find out what was going on and wanted to get involved themselves. Faye England, field operations manager, said: “The team thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a
great opportunity to get together outside of the normal working environment.” Jason Abrams said “it was great to get out in the fresh air and make a difference,” while Geoff Keen said he has overcome his fear of wearing pink and will don the colour, which the team think suits him, much more often from now on. Simon from Thames21, the charity for
London’s waterways who ran the event, added: “Thank you so much – a great day’s work. Being able to be at the site on a regular basis means it has improved a lot over the last two years and is being transformed from an eyesore into an asset for the community.” Do you fancy giving a day of your time to volunteer? Or take part in a team building event? Contact Karen Rudkin on 86877. www.thameswater.co.uk november 2012 | 23
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