COVID-19 essential work

As an essential service, we work 24/7 to keep your taps and sewers flowing. At the moment, it’s even more important that people can continue to wash their hands regularly as advised – and wash their clothes, have showers, drink, flush toilets and more.

Working to keep your water and waste flowing

Along with thousands of others helping to keep our country going, some of our workforce have been granted key worker status.

You can help us with our essential work by only flushing the 3Ps (pee, poo and paper) and by not approaching our teams when they’re working.


Our key workers tell their stories about what they're doing to keep taps and toilets flowing – and how their work has been impacted by COVID-19.

Here's the latest from Lyra Ginns – Environmental Compliance Advisor:

Past #WaterWednesday videos

20 October 2020 – Dan Skelton – STC Operator:

20 October 2020 – David Murphy, Senior Project Manager – DWMP Programme:

6 October 2020 – Simon Cox, Process Operator:

23 September 2020 – Donna Howden, Head of Customer Service:

23 September 2020 – Nick Mills, Head of Pollution and Flooding Resilience:

12 August 2020 – C​live Mitchener, Sludge Treatment Centre Operator:

5 August 2020 – Khloe Hausdoerfer, Programme Coordinator:


29 July 2020 – Matt Collins, Field Customer Engagement Officer:

22 July 2020 – Andy Webb, Technical Coordinator:

15 July 2020 – Cathy Marriott, Field Performance Manager:

8 July 2020 – JP Collet, Operational Manager – East:

1 July 2020 – Paul Mayfield, Initiatives Manager:

24 June 2020 – Dave Williams, Head of Water Networks:

17 June 2020 – Kelly Robinson, County Customer Manager:

10 June 2020 – Michael Wood, Field Performance Manager

3 June 2020 – Al Baker, Sussex Sampling Team Leader

It is easy to forget the amazing work behind the scenes as we take something like free flowing clean water for granted! Please pass on our thanks and hopefully we will have a few posters to send you! - The Baird Primary Academy, Hastings

Protecting our employees

We must continue our work to safeguard our networks. We can safely carry out a number of jobs in line with the Government’s advice on social distancing. However, when carrying out some essential jobs, our employees can’t observe the social distancing guidelines for health and safety reasons – for example, jobs where two people need to lift heavy equipment.

Wastewater already contains nasties and our employees are used to working in a careful and safe way. However, to further protect our employees, we’ve supplied them with additional hand-cleaning facilities and PPE, along with their usual kit.

We have a wide range of work places and each will have differing requirements. We have carried out a risk assessment to address the risks that COVID-19 poses in Southern Water’s office environments:

COVID-19 risk assessment


Our essential work

We know it sounds obvious that we still need to work, given everyone will still want to flush their toilets and drink cups of tea. However, the impact of the essential jobs we do goes beyond those basic essentials.

Here’s a brief explanation of a number vital jobs we’re continuing to do so that we keep you, your homes and the environment safe.


Keeping taps flowing

Water supplies

We must continue to maintain high levels of water quality for customers to drink. So, our teams continue to work to maintain the security of our water network, as well as key storage assets like service reservoirs, so everyone’s taps continue to flow.

Network inspectors

We’ve cancelled all non-essential customer visits. However, our Network Inspectors continue to respond to customer and network emergencies. These may include ‘no water’ calls because of supply interruptions, reports of visible leaks, significant water quality issues, emergency damage events caused by others and emergency turn-offs at customer properties – for example, in the event of a flood.

Leakage detection

Our leakage detection technicians, along with our partner, PN Daly, are continuing to respond to calls for help from other teams in pinpointing and locating leaks and bursts. They’re also still out and about searching for water being lost from the water network so it doesn’t interrupt the supply to our customers.

Partnership working

Our partner, Clancy Docwra, is continuing to carry out essential repairs and maintenance on our water network. This includes emergencies such as repairing bursts and severe leaks on our pipes and fixing any problems those issues may have caused to the road and highway surfaces.

We really appreciate your quick response in sending someone to help with a drain blockage, we didn’t have to go for long without water during such difficult times!! Great service thank you. #keyworkers

Keeping sewers flowing

Maintaining treatment works

Regular maintenance is essential and needs to continue at treatment works to prevent pollution to the environment. Most of this can be carried out by lone workers. However, at times, more than one person is needed to fix or maintain key pieces of equipment.

Removing blockages

Our teams are still attending sewer blockages to prevent homes and gardens from sewer flooding. In many cases, they can clear these on their own using long rods, but where jetting is needed to dislodge the blockage they may need to work in pairs or more.

Customers can help stop blockages by only flushing the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper. If you’ve run out of toilet paper and are having to use alternatives, please dispose of them in a bin after use rather than flushing them.

Pumping stations

Our pumps can become blocked by all the wipes, paper towels, sanitary items and other unflushable items people flush. So we need to lift them out the ground and clean them to ensure they continue to work. Because they’re very heavy, they need to be cleaned by two people for health and safety reasons.

Cleaning wet wells

In some parts of our sewer system, houses’ sewer systems empty into a wet well, from where the sewage is then pumped to our treatment works. To make sure the pumps in the chambers continue to work, our teams must clean them of all the fat, oil, grease people pour down their sinks and unflushables (like wet wipes and sanitary items) people flush down their toilets. If the pumps stopped working, customer’s homes, gardens and the environment would be at risk of flooding.

Customers can make this job easier by only flushing the 3Ps (pee, poo and paper), scraping plates before washing them and using an empty container (like a butter tub) to collect cooled fat and oil, then put it in the bin.


We’re currently at a critical stage of the takeover and a few items of critical works are still required before this will be complete. The wastewater treatment works is there to protect the environment and public health, so it’s critical work and must continue. However, our employees and partner, 4D, are working hard to maintain the government's distancing policy wherever possible.

Close agent lightbox  Close box