Flushables Outreach: The Singing Sewermen

November 25, 2015

Featured, Multimedia

The Singing Sewermen of Thames Water (London) released a video for “The Twelve Blockages of Christmas,” a parody of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Photo courtesy of Thames Water. The Singing Sewermen of Thames Water (London) released a video for “Sewermen Style,” a parody of “Gangnam Style.” Photo courtesy of Thames Water.
The Singing Sewermen of Thames Water (London) have recorded several humorous holiday-themed videos asking London citizens to avoid washing turkey grease down the drain during the holiday season. Photo courtesy of Thames Water.

The celebrated Singing Sewermen of Thames Water (London) released their “debut single” in 2009 — a revision of the classic carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” They have since gone on to record several more hilarious, holiday-themed videos appealing to Londoners to avoid washing turkey grease down the drain during the Christmas season.

Ensuing videos — which helped influence more utilities to incorporate humor into their outreach — included variations of “Good King Wenceslas,” “Deck the Halls,” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the latter of which was appropriately named “The Twelve Blockages of Christmas.” In 2012, the Sewermen even released an adaptation of “Gangnam Style,” called “Sewermen Style,” with lyrics such as:

We put our sexy suits on to clear a massive mound.
We put our sexy boots on and head below the ground.
The historic brick sewers under London are our hood.
But so many people don’t treat them like they should.

Yeah we’ve got Sewerman Style.

Hey, sewer abusers (whoop whoop whoop).

We’ve got Sewerman Style.

Rob Smith, the Sewermen’s “chief flusher,” uses humor to promote citizen awareness of the problems that turkey grease causes on the sewer system pipes. Photo courtesy of Thames Water.

Rob Smith, the Sewermen’s “chief flusher,” uses humor to promote citizen awareness of the problems that turkey grease causes on the sewer system pipes. Photo courtesy of Thames Water.

Rob Smith, the Sewermen’s “chief flusher,” is seen in the video dancing with the group in London’s streets and sewers. “We might not be the first to do one of these Gangnam Style videos, but we’re the first to do it this badly,” he said.

Joking aside, the Sewermen carry an important message: Grease and other nonflushable items such as wipes should not be sent down the drain or toilet. According to Thames Water, the utility spends £12 million ($13 million) a year clearing almost 80,000 sewer blockages, a problem that intensifies during the holidays.

“That’s why we’re hell-bent on getting people to take heed of the Sewermen’s war cry, ‘bin it — don’t block it,’” Smith said.

— Jeff Gunderson, WEF Highlights

WEF Highlights Showcases Flushables Outreach Efforts

As the nondispersibles issue continues to grow, utilities are turning to humor and lighthearted messages to educate the public. In the footsteps of the Singing Sewermen from Thames Water (London), utilities are creating unique and humorous public service announcements (PSAs) and campaigns to educate the public about what can and cannot go down the drain or toilet.

Stay tuned to WEF Highlights for articles featuring these efforts. Have a unique flushable PSA to share? Send it to Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights editor, at jfulcher@wef.org.

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