Water and the future

Life is amazing, just when you think you have made some progress, something happens to make you realise you are only part-way there. Well, at least I hope that’s the case…

Back in the 70’s, less than 10% of school leavers went to University. Even an under-achiever like me had a choice of careers back then and I started with Weir Pumps as an Apprentice Draughtsman. Little did I know that 40 years later, I would have racked up 34 years in the water industry and 6 years oil and gas industry experience.

My career has also transitioned from industry to consultancy. When I found myself as Design Manager for one of the UK’s leading engineering consultancies, I felt that I was not worthy somehow, basically my qualifications didn’t match my role.

This is when I came across the Mechanical Engineering distance degree course at the University of Bradford. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, I had to plead in person to the Dean of the School such was the gap between applying and my previous academic studies. After personally underwriting my application with assurances of success, I embarked on this distance degree while working full time.

In 2007, I received my Degree scroll from my cricketing hero and legend, Imran Khan. Yes, there are some Scots who like cricket!! Second only to family milestones, this was one of the proudest moments of my life. I had been working for 30 years at that point and you could be forgiven for thinking that this was the icing on the cake and it would be appropriate to start to think about unwinding, taking the foot off the gas. Well really, it’s been the complete opposite!

Callum on graduation day with his wife

If I could offer one piece of advice it would be that whilst academia is extremely important, so is following a passion. I am unsure who coined this phrase, but it goes “a person who loves their work has never worked a day in their life”. This says it all and a mantra we should all look to pursue.

With this in mind, I follow another passion for motorcycles and even have a business around those called Scotmoto Ltd.

I am now a Chartered Mechanical Engineer, member of IMechE and Engineering Council. I am also a Fellow of the Association for Project Management. I completed my STEM Ambassador induction and carry out voluntary work in local schools including career guidance and interview training. I have worked in Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the Middle East.

I have also delivered the first, and remains the only “gas-to-wire” project using unconventional gas as a fuel source. I have been fortunate to be involved in many diverse engineering challenges however, none more challenging or satisfying than my degree. I even managed to develop a renewable energy device as my dissertation subject!!

It is clear that engineering is my over-arching passion after my family. It is this passion that has driven me to write my Booklet “The future of the water cycle in the UK” ISBN 9781788761727. Let me give you a word of warning. Passion is not always a positive and from my perspective, it represents a challenge in this booklet. Basically, the way we deal with stormwater, surface water run-off and the fact that we retain combined sewers taking millions of litres of flows to treatment facilities and discharge to outfall or water course is fundamentally flawed and represents the least efficient system possible. We have simply added on to Victorian systems. Whilst we owe a huge debt to them, it’s clear you would not follow their model if building a system today. So now is the time for the Infrastructure Revolution. This means all stormwater should be isolated and dealt with separately. As a result, foul flow volumes would be reduced by over 70%, energy used to transfer and treat foul flows would be reduced by 70%, land used for wastewater treatment and the processes themselves would shrink down in scale by half.

Callum’s book was shortlisted for Water Industry Awards 2018 as the Energy and Carbon Initiative of the Year 2018

These changes would result in savings of over £2.6 billion per annum at current energy costs. The reason why this is not in focus is simple. It’s because the public are already paying for this inefficiency in their bills. If the inefficiency costs were bourne by the water industry or government, it would have been addressed long ago. Putting this right will create thousands of jobs, work will be self-funding to a certain extent through savings made.

Our children will see the benefits of this efficient infrastructure for the 21st Century. Other benefits are that grey water re-use would increase, potable water consumption would be reduced and brownfield land available for affordable housing would increase. Energy saved can provide the power for future electric vehicles, combined sewers would be completely eliminated, flooding would be managed and so on. There are many benefits advocated through this infrastructure revolution. It will not be easy, however, it must be a question of when, not if.

So as I wait impatiently for the awards ceremony in May, I am grateful for this opportunity to share my journey with you. Having a taste for writing, I have published 3 in a series of engineering guidelines and doubt if this is the last you hear of me!

About the Author

Callum Scott, Mechanical Engineering 2007

Callum Scott is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and project management consultant working within the water and waste water sector in Scotland. He graduated from Bradford with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2007 and has recently written and published a booklet which has been shortlisted as a finalist at the forthcoming UK Water Industry awards within the “Energy and carbon initiative of the year” category.

 

Connect with Callum on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/callumscotconsult

Twitter: @gonzoscott01

 

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