Severn Trent wastewater engineers made the most unusual catch of the day by rescuing two fish they believe had been flushed down a toilet into a sewer.
Brothers Martin and Chas Jeffries realised “fins” weren’t right when the fish appeared on their CCTV survey camera.
But they didn’t get into a flap – instead they managed to pull the fish to a manhole and lift them from the sewer.
Martin and Chas work for drainage and utility specialist Lanes Group plc, on behalf of Amey, Severn Trent’s wastewater maintenance partner.
They had been investigating a 150mm-diameter sewer behind terraced homes in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, when Martin spotted something fishy.
He said: “Chas had put the CCTV camera in the sewer, and I was watching the video in the van console, when the camera bumped into a fish two metres from the manhole.
“It was a surprise to say the least. We could see there were two fish half-submerged in water, and both were gasping for breath.”
Chas said: “I was shocked. We see all sorts down sewers, but not usually fish. Straight away I wanted to see if I could save them.
“I managed to get the camera head beyond the fish, and just had a feeling I had them. When I pulled the camera back, they appeared in the manhole.”
One of the fish was more lively than other as they put both into a bucket of water used for cleaning equipment. Minutes later, it was clear one had not made it, and had died.
The fish that revived may have been a goldfish and the one that did not could have been a carp, say Martin and Chas, who go pond fishing in the summer.
Chas said: “It was a pity we couldn’t save both fish, but neither of them would have survived much longer in the sewer.
“We think they might have been flushed into pipe from one of the nearby houses and could only have been there for a couple of hours. It was very fortunate we arrived when we did.”
The pair named the surviving fish Lucky, for obvious reasons, and the next task was to give it a new home.
They decided to release the fish in a pond on a nearby housing estate. “Goldfish can live quite happily in ponds, so we thought it the best option,” said Martin.
Their fish rescue impressed colleagues and sparked a little fun too. “The word was that it was fish and chips for supper for us then,” said Martin.
“We find lots of things in sewers, like children’s toys, mobile phones, knives, game consoles, but fish is a first for us.
“It would be best if people dispose of fish in a more humane and caring way. Drains are for pee, poo, and toilet paper. Definitely not fish.”