World Water Day (22 March) has come and gone – blink and you would have missed it. However, an organization that didn’t miss it was The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in the United Kingdom. They used this day to celebrate the civil engineers making a difference in the world of water infrastructure.
ICE hosted an exhibition with real-life engineers, both active and retired, who dressed up as engineering-inspired superheroes. They hosted two exhibitions named ‘Invisible Superheroes’ and ‘Water: From Source to Tap.’
The purpose of the exhibitions was to inform young attendees about career prospects in civil engineering and to speak about the importance of clean water in our future. The ‘superheroes’ were there to also inform about threats to the water infrastructure in the UK; mainly, ‘fatbergs and flooding.’
Fatbergs are masses of solid waste that get lodged in sewerage systems. These piles of waste mainly consist of congealed fat which has been poured down household drains and personal hygiene products that have been flushed down household toilets. London’s Victorian-era sewer system sees these fatbergs all too often, and civil engineers are who have to deal with them.
After clearing the fatbergs from the sewer system, they are handed over to others in the engineering industry that turn the discarded waste into biofuel. The process is shown in this video:
A company known as Thames Water spends around one million pounds per month clearing fatbergs and blockages from sewer systems in London. Their total of fatbergs cleared nears around 55,000 per year.
Martyn Harvie, a principal engineer appearing at ICE’s exhibition as superhero Drainage Dyno told WWT Online said:
“People are prone to ‘flush and forget,’ not thinking about the environmental consequences. But responsible water management is vital for a sustainable future. By revealing the secrets beneath the sewers, ICE hopes to warn people ‘Don’t Feed the Fatberg’ and raise awareness of all the behind-the-scenes work that civil engineers do to manage our precious water resources.”
“HOW MUCH DO ‘FATBERGS’ COST THE PUBLIC?” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 2 Aug. 2018, www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/fb-6019745/HOW-FATBERGS-COST-PUBLIC.html.
“ICE Launches Exhibition Showing Water’s ‘Superheroes.'” WWT, wwtonline.co.uk/news/ice-launches-exhibition-showing-waters-superheroes.