Anglian Water was recently awarded Business in the Community’s Responsible Business of the Year award. We were going to ask our Head of Sustainability Andy Brown to tell us about some of the environmental work we do which was praised by the judges. But his is a busy job, so instead we’ve asked someone who knows him very well, his daughter Emily.
My dad is Head of Sustainability at Anglian Water and has worked for the company for as long as I have been alive; so when finding a placement for year 10 work experience came around I knew who to talk to. At school, I love geography so I am spending the week with Anglian Water’s Coastal and Catchment Team.
On the first day of work experience, I was out for the day doing botanical surveys with Biodiversity Manager, Chris. We went to three different county wildlife sites looking to see if the sites were in good condition or if they needed any change in management.
At the first site, the Offord intake on the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire, we were surveying the area either side of a service road into the water works. Chris, even though he claimed he wasn’t the best botanist, was able to name most of the plants. If he didn’t know one, we looked it up in a guide book. I now know a few more plants than I did on Monday including pyramidal orchid, selfheal and mouse ear. Chris decided that the only change to the site would be that the mowing would be moved to April to avoid orchid season.
The second site was behind a water treatment works and was very overgrown; we trampled some of the plants down and began the survey. However, there was not a large variety. The plant I remember most was the stinging nettles, most of which were taller than me!
At the third site the grassland had begun the change to woodland with plants such as hawthorn beginning to grow. This is called natural succession and happens when there isn’t grazing or management. When back in the office I typed up the survey list and looked up the Latin names in the plant book. I really enjoyed the day and I learnt a lot, it made me more excited about pursuing a career outdoors.
On the second day I was with Becky and Rob, both agricultural catchment advisers, doing water sampling for pesticides and talking to local farmers. We took samples from in and around Oakam, near Rutland Water, to look at which pesticides were entering the water course. This would show which farmers were using what pesticide. Certain pesticides can’t be treated by Anglian Water’s processes so the team are talking to, and trying to educate, local farmers on why using an alternative is better for everyone.
We visited a farmer and talked to him about what he would be growing next season and what pesticides he would use, this was an interesting insight into the issue from a farmer’s perspective – balancing financial returns with environmental benefits.
Back in the office, I made a leaflet for gardeners and allotment holders on the benefits of using non-chemical methods in their gardens. I found the day really interesting and I learnt about how the company interacts with local people and protects water in the catchment.
Thursday was my favorite day; I was out with Martin (Catchment Based Project Manager) at Elveden estates SPot day Strategic potato farm. We were there on behalf of Anglian Water but most other people were farmers or from agricultural companies. We were taken on a tour of the farm, stopping in different fields to see different trials going on. All of the trials were on potato types and related how they reacted to a variety of fertilisers and pesticides.
I think I learnt the most at this event as I got to interact with the farmers and understand what the day meant to them. It was a really fun day and Martin explained a lot to me, I didn’t know there was so much to learn about potatoes!
On my final day I was with Lu, She manages the whole Coastal and Catchment Team. We went to a CFE (Campaign for the Farmed Environment) meeting which brought together all types of organisations to promote the benefits of the farmed environment, sort out events and deal with problems as a whole. I liked this as I got to see a different part of the job, and because there were biscuits – farmers like lots of biscuits! After this we did a safety audit with a member of Lu’s team, Kelly, this illustrated how important having the right equipment and knowledge is.
The last thing we did was inspect Toft reservoir which we had to report on as some livestock had infiltrated the fence – it’s important to keep livestock out of the water to prevent contamination.
So I have learnt that biodiversity can appear in the strangest of places, farmers have to balance financial and environmental needs, potatoes can be more interesting than you would imagine, that safety is the most important thing and that working is much more fun than you might think.
My work experience at Anglian Water has been amazing; everyone I have spoken to has been so friendly and passionate about what they do. The company is a great working environment and I will take away so much from my time here.
- If you’ve been inspired by Emily’s story and you would like to inquire about work experience in our Sustainability or Coastal and Catchment teams then email Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org