Engineering – The Career that keeps giving

I have always wanted to be a Civil Engineer. Primarily, because Civil Engineers have the tools to make the world better and have a long lasting impact on it.

 For example a flood scheme I worked on in 2017 protected the residents of Thatcham in the recent flooding in January 2020.

The Tull Way Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) arose following the widespread surface water flooding that affect over 1100 homes back in July 2007. The impacts were devastating causing economic loss and hardship to local people and business. 

Following this, West Berkshire council developed a surface water management plan in collaboration with partners, notably: The Environment Agency, Thames Water and Thatcham Town Council. As a result a plan was developed to build a series of three flood storage reservoirs to reduce flood risk in Thatcham. The first flood storage reservoir was built in 2014 at  Cold Ash, followed by the Tull Way reservoir in 2017 and a third reservoir at Floral Way was built in 2018. The aim was that they would collect and store flood water before releasing it at a controlled rate back into the surface water sewers

In March 2017, construction began on the Tull Way Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS). A 300 metre earth embankment was to be built to the north of Tull Way in order to retain flood water and protect 1100 houses from flooding. A concrete inlet structure with a 900mm dimeter pipe and penstock valve to release the flood water gradually were also to be constructed as part of the scheme. The storage area would retain up to 40,000m3 of flood water in a 1 in 100 year flood, releasing it slowly to reduce the risk of flooding in Thatcham.

My role on the project was as Engineering Construction Contract (ECC) site supervisor. In the role of site supervisor, I was responsible for recording key information such as the weather on site, the activity on site, progress on site, plant and labour return, construction material, and taking progress photographs in the site diary. I would inspect the result of site tests, check for defects, and manage quality control and the health and safety of operatives by checking that they had complied with the method statement provided for the works. My favourite part of the job was talking to the public, engaging with them on the council blog site, opening the site to interested future engineers and knowing the work would make such a difference to people’s lives.

Image 1: The team at Tull Way (I am the thirdfrom the left) with the Mayor of Thatcham, Cllr Ellen Crumly and the MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon when they visited site during construction.

Following heavy overnight rain on the 14th January 2020 which accompanied Storm Brendan the Tull Way flood defence reservoir, completed in 2018, impounded over two metres depth of flood water and was effective in protecting numerous properties in the Florence Gardens and Bowling Green Road area of Thatcham from flooding.

The Tull Way Flood Alleviation Scheme allowed the optimum amount of water into the area’s drainage system and held back the surplus water that would have surcharged the system and caused widespread flash flooding. The surplus water was then discharged into the drainage system in a controlled manner.

Image 2 – Tull Way flood defences holding back surplus water in January 2020.

As Civil Engineers, we develop assets that stand the test of time and transform people’s quality of life. Imagine those who were victims of flooding in 2007 and the relief there feel knowing their homes are safe now as a result of Civil Engineers.

In short, Civil engineers save the day. We do amazing thing and even 3 years after a project is delivered you can look back and know that work is valuable and continues to makes a difference. It’s simply an incredible feeling!!

Just me Ayo, sharing the Joy of Civil Engineering.

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