Sewer expert Andy joins scientists in American debate

Lanes Group plc fatberg fighter Andy Howard is joining scientists from the USA and Canada to delve deep into the topic of sewage – and how to prevent it posing a risk to the global environment.

He has been invited to take part in an online talk organised by the Centre for Brooklyn History in New York called Sewers: Messages from the Underground, exploring how sewers, and what they contain, reflect modern society.

Andy is the Field Operation Specialist Lanes trunk sewer teams that tackle the most challenging blockage removal and sewer cleaning tasks for Thames Water, the UK’s largest water company.

He has been invited to take part in the virtual debate on Tuesday 29th November 2022 after being interviewed by its host, American science journalist Jessica Leigh Hester, for her new book, Sewer.

Andy said: “I’m looking forward to taking part in the debate. I’m happy to talk to anyone about sewers. I find them endlessly fascinating, and most people find sewage an interesting topic, if a little gory.

“Because of the time difference, I’ll be at work on a night shift, so I might be able to give a live run-down of what my Lanes colleagues are doing underground to remove a blockage.”

Andy will explain the technical and practical challenges of maintaining large urban sewers. He led Lanes teams that, in 2017, removed the famous Whitechapel fatberg, which became so famous it even had its own exhibition at the Museum of London.

He will also share feedback from Unblocktober, launched by Lanes in 2019 as the world’s first month-long campaign to gather public support to protect sewers from abuse and save rivers and oceans from plastic pollution.

He said: “Unblocktober is endorsed by organisations and individuals around the world and is, I think, an excellent example of the kinds of initiatives needed to encourage all of us to change behaviours that contribute to pollution and climate change.

“I’m proud to be working for a company that has started a campaign that industry leaders, activists and the general public can all support to raise awareness of the need to use sewers more wisely.”  

Other speakers in the debate include scientists from Toronto Metropolitan University, in Canada, and the University of California Merced, and an ecologist from the Hudson River Park’s River Project, which conducts research and education projects to conserve New York’s main river.

Andy believes all the participants will find they have a lot in common in terms of understanding the pressures placed on sewer systems and the consequences this can have for the environment.

He explained: “Countries around the world face similar challenges in terms mis-use of sewers, with fats, oils and grease and non-flushable products, many of them plastic, entering the sewer system.

“Despite a lot of costly effort to remove this material, some of it gets into waterways and oceans, damaging wildlife and contributing to the build-up of microplastics in the environment. We can all do more to prevent this.”

Lanes Group is the UK’s largest independent drainage and wastewater services specialist, delivering a wide range of services to water companies and other businesses across all sectors, including energy, rail, highways, construction, building maintenance, housing, and government.

Listen to Andy Howard and other speakers debate the past, present and future of sewers in the CHB talk Sewers: Messages from the Underground, at 6.30pm New York time (10.30pm UK time) on Tuesday 29th November 2022.

Comments are closed.