Dougal Leslie, Sewer Response

07 April 2020
Scottish Water’s vital role is to look after your water supply and remove and clean the water you use. Employees throughout the organisation are performing key roles working round the clock to deliver our services to you.
Some will be working very visibly in your area. Others will be doing jobs which mean although they are vital to ensuring the quality of your water and protecting the environment, you won't see them out and about. To protect both public health and our employees we are following government guidelines on social distancing. 
Here, we turn the spotlight on one of the key roles helping to maintain networks and keep the water flowing:

Meet Dougal Leslie

Dougal performs a key role, working round the clock to deliver our services to you.

Dougal Leslie (54) is a network maintenance operative with Scottish Water’s sewer response team, based in Inverness. He has worked for Scottish Water for 22 years. 

As key workers, Dougal and his colleagues play an essential role in in keeping the waste water network in the area flowing despite the recent restrictions that have been put in place, attending at properties which have reported a blockage in the sewer network and taking action to prevent flooding and protect customers. 

He said: “At the end of the day we’re there to do a job. The team all feels the same. The Coronavirus has had an impact on the way we work, but it doesn’t feel too bad at the moment although it is changing every day.  

“I’m feeling okay about working at the moment - I like keeping busy and being able to help people in any way I can. People can really help us too by thinking about what they put down the toilet and the drainage system – and especially by not flushing wipes down the toilet.  

“There is no such thing as a biodegradable wipe and the vast majority of chokes that we attend are caused in some way by these things. People should only be flushing toilet paper down the loo – any alternatives they may be using at the moment should go in a bag and then in the bin. That would make a big difference in protecting everyone and keeping everything flowing as it should.

“We wear PPE (personal protective equipment) as a matter of course during our work anyway, which includes gloves and a visor, so that hasn’t changed but we’ve been issued with hand sanitiser and wipes as well which we’re all using. 

“We always phone customers to let them know that we’re coming to clear a choke and now we make sure that we speak to them about the virus to check if there is anything we should be aware of before we attend. I had a customer recently who was having to self-isolate but I was still able to go and complete the job, we just communicated through the window. Other customers have been pretty good at keeping a distance too, if they come out to speak to us when we arrive.

“We know that everyone is concerned to minimise travel and avoid infection spreading, but I hope they appreciate that we need to maintain essential services for all of our customers – including by unblocking toilets and drains to prevent sewage flooding.”