Welcome to the newsletter from ech2o consultants keeping you informed of all things water!

Welcome to the spring 2017 newsletter

The blossom is out on the trees by the canal, the willow tree is full of bud, the oh so trendy popcorn parlour opposite the ech2o office has emptied its canoe of winter rain so it’s no longer half submerged and it is World Water Day as I type this. Yep, it’s definitely spring. As always we hope you all enjoy the newsletter, find the contents useful, inspirational or just plain fun and keep those comments, suggestions, messages etc. coming in.


Cath does stand-up

Can’t really start this newsletter anywhere else than asking … ‘So, how did Cath’s stand-up gig go? Did she bomb? Or did her ‘Why do you engineers hate plumbers so much?’ lament get the audience onto her side and so was a resounding success?’ Well, thanks to Steve Cross at Engineering Showoff you can actually see the whole 16 minute set here!  And make your own mind up. And thanks to Steve for the photo too. 
Plus, big thanks to everyone who supported the Cath-rhymes-with-bath-Hassell fundraising for toilet twinning. Between you all you raised £840, enough for 14 twinned toilets, which is a brilliant result. We already have some sites earmarked and will be twinning some loos in schools as well, so will keep you updated. And you can still donate if you want.

Other Frankie the Flamingo news

The Flamingo Investigation department pose for their official #watersavingweek photo after hearing that ten copies of their book would be awarded to one lucky school.   


Free water workshops for London schools! 

Thames Water’s fabulous Water Efficiency in Schools Programme is now in its third year. Read more about it here.  If you would like your school to be involved just email us on . First come, first served and limited availability so don’t delay. We have no places left for primary schools but do for secondary schools.

WatEf’s blogs

Three more WatEf blogs about water, people and communities. Sharon Russell-Verma blogs about the natural capital inherent in water and how we could utilise that to value our water resources more highly. Eleni Tracadi blogs about designing water into cities using Florence as an example.  And Cath returns to the theme of the importance of language and politically analyses why we should use the term sewage treatment with direct re-use instead of ‘blackwater recycling’.     Check them out here, as usual. 

The Plus Pool 

As usual at this time of the year, Cath has spent the last few Friday afternoons critiquing the projects of Westminster Uni architecture students. Lots of water related designs this year including floating housing units in the Thames, spas in Budapest and dealing with the monsoon in Chennai.
One student, Neil, is considering using the Plus Pool in Hong Kong harbour, a new concept in outdoor swimming pools which, if all goes well, will be appearing in the Hudson River as it flows through New York in the not too distant future.  At its simplest it’s a pool that floats in water and filters the surrounding water to swim in, though there are no explicit details given yet as to how precisely that will work. Despite the picture I cannot see how it will be as simple as ‘here comes the river water and whoosh though the membrane it goes, and bobs your uncle, filtered water inside the pool.’  As with all membrane filtration systems it will need to be far more mechanised, and the water forced through the membrane using pumps. Which means a plant room somewhere. But you can’t fault the concept and I would love to see one on the River Thames in London. Though hopefully with no whale swimming along underneath just about to rise up and tip the pool over…

This is the pool’s kickstarter site where they explain the concept a bit more, (though still keeping a lot of cards close to their chests).  The process is a combination of membrane filtration technology combined with disinfectant. Rather than use chlorine as the disinfectant mechanism iodine will be used to kill bacteria and parasites, with granulated active carbon to remove the iodine.

All really interesting. And, for those who don’t know how membrane filtration technology works, here is a good link explaining the process.

Our trip to Pooland

We like to do things differently here at ech2o and so decided to visit Thames Water’s Sewage Treatment Plant in Slough in January for our, slightly late, Chrig do. Trevon was unfortunately ill, Safa was busy (washing her hair I think!) and Sam hadn’t yet joined the team, so it was a slightly reduced complement of Cath and Tahirah. It was a fantastically sunny day, we got a lecture first and then a tour of the site.  Plus a great little experiment showing graphically why wet-wipes cause so many problems in the sewers. Thanks to Deena McKinney who hosted us, complete with chocolate biscuits and strawberries. The site can also be visited by school, college or university groups. Contact if you want to go.

A year of showering variously - the best blog about showering in the world 

In January Cath stole a blog about the history of showering from a. n. other …Really? That’s a bit worrying (Plagiarism Ed). In February she continued her research and managed to combine the perils of social inadequacy whilst dispelling some of the myths she thought were facts about showers being invented for soldiers in the Napoleonic wars. And in March she blogged about decontamination showers, marvelled at their flow rates, and came up with an alternative (and very profitable) use for them.


Happy World Water Day! 

OMG. How cute is this? Drawn by Evie, 6 of St Edwards Academy in Leek, it arrived at our office along with 27 others, on March 22nd. The best World Water Day present ever!

Water around the world 

Hooray! We do have new blogs. Samantha Mbire (13) aka Sam Mblogger has recently spent some time in the ech2o office and provided us with two photo-blogs. One about the canal outside our office and another one on why plants need water . And Helen Spring from London Wildlife Trust has blogged about rain gardens and community involvement. Rain gardens are such a simple solution to reducing the strain on our combined sewers, that they are Clarence the crab’s favourite solution. 
If you want to write about any aspect of water supply, use or sanitation in your own country (UK included) just drop an email to  with a brief synopsis about what you want to write about and we will get back to you. Or better still just send us a blog right here right now!    . 

The mysterious case of the sinking flamingo - Frankie does engineering  

This is in the very early planning stages at present but the Flamingo Investigation Department and the wonderful Pip Jefferis of Amey recognise that engineering needs the Frankie the flamingo treatment so that STEM ambassadors can go into primary schools to show six to eight year olds that building big things can be fun! 

Pic of the month  

Fabulous photo by Thames Water of water mains through the ages. Wooden water mains (at rear of excavation) were laid anytime between 1613 and 1797. The blue MDPE water mains date from the 1990’s and in the middle is a cast iron mains.

Innovative safe water solutions 

There are some interesting ideas in this Guardian article about new ways to provide clean water (including one of my favourites – the fog catcher) or to conserve supplies. What makes this article more relevant is that the ideas are commented on by an expert in the fields of either safe sanitation or clean water supply, and the issues of scalability and community involvement are addressed thus widening the debate. 

YouTube corner! 

How water behaves in space… What happens on a space ship if you wring out a damp towel? (Thanks to Kym at Passivhaus Trust for this link)
16 minutes of dam bursts! If you didn’t fancy 16 minutes of Cath‘s stand-up gig of plumbing and parachuting anecdotes may be you would like this instead. Does what it says on the tin… lots of water issuing from dams many with concerned dam workers walking quickly away J
Molly and Tom from Arts Republic find a use for some of those millions of left over plastic water bottles in this great sculpture.
And a clip from The Big Bang Theory with Howard testing his space toilet.

Toilet corner  

Listen to Radio 4’s Costing the Earth A toilet for the 21st Century. About sanitation issues around the world.  

The mysterious case of the sinking flamingo coming to a cinema near you soon!

But while we wait for that, thanks to EC1 Bathrooms and RegenMedia  you can now watch the story in sound (by Cath) and vision (Jon Evans). Its eight minutes and eight seconds of general fabness, with the added bonus of hard technical information about combined sewer overflows!

Remember you can buy the book through Amazon and we will donate the tax that Amazon should have paid to WaterAid. Or you can order direct through us (which is cheaper). Just email us on and we will send you an invoice. Book is £5.99 plus £1.50 postage and packing direct from us. You can read a great review of the book by Adam Vaughan of Tracing Green if you haven’t yet.

World Drought situation

Virtually every day there is news about drought in some area of the world. While I was looking for a good image to show this, I chanced upon this interesting blog from summer 2015 about seven recent major droughts .
I also found these two maps produced by the US National Center (sic) for Atmospheric Research, one historic drought information from the decade 2000-09 and their predictions of drought across the world in in the decade starting 2030.

@CathHassell – Follow Cath on Twitter

As she says in her twitter blurb: Likes: plumbing, cycling, cricket and India. Will only tweet about water and toilets though. She has pretty much kept to that promise if you count all plumbing as either water or toilets. If you want to see what you missed go here or start to follow her. Or just go to our new website (did we mention the new website yet?) and Cath’s most recent tweets scroll along the bottom of our home page. Modern technology and all that!

Last but not least

If this is the first time you are reading one of our newsletters, don’t forget that all earlier versions are available here. Full of links to technical downloads as well as random water stuff. 

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