By Eamonn Ryan
- Customer appreciation month is being celebrated
- Reasons why plumbers should be proud of their profession
- Plumbers are literally the reason we live in the manner we live in urban areas
This month is ‘Customer appreciation month’ and IOPSA executive director Brendan Reynold describes April as being the month of the year in which plumbers should applaud their role in society more than ever.
“Customers certainly appreciate plumbers, and plumbers in turn should be proud of their profession, for the simple reason that if we didn’t have plumbers, civilization as we know it would crumble and we might even all die. Health, water and sanitation are that important to everyday life.”
It would for instance be impossible to build a high-rise apartment block unless you could pipe water to the top story, he explains. “The clean water that comes out the tap that people drink and wash with, that their kids play with and in, and the water they use to feed their garden or crops, gets to their home through the work of a plumber. Any person who has had to endure three, four or five days without water understands how difficult it is to live without clean water in an urban environment. Within days, bodies, clothes and homes become grubby and odourous, and – extrapolated out a bit further – there’s going to be disease.
“In vast swathes of the rest of Africa, and even in many areas of rural South Africa, it is common that people have to walk long distances to the nearest source of clean drinking water and carry it home – a chore that can take five hours or so out of their day just to access water to cook, drink and clean. It severely cramps their productivity. It leaves no time for work, seeking employment or studying. In such an environment, communities cannot uplift themselves, and are prone to disease.
“People often confuse plumbing with bulk infrastructure, which is built by civil engineers. A dam may be built, as is the plant to treat the water and thereafter it is piped to a storage facility such as a water tower. That consists of a single pipe, and residents would still have to walk there to get their water in a bucket balanced on their heads. But to have real community value, that water has to be piped to their thousands of homes, shops and factories where the water is actually consumed. That is the job of the plumber, because that is not bulk, civils work – it is the thousands of individual pipes to individual homes
“The plumber is therefore critical to getting the water into a consumer’s mouth and onto their bodies. Just as important to health and sanitation is removing the waste, as this is where the main health and disease hazard lies. Plumbers also take the waste from the consumer’s toilet through a network of pipes to the main sewer line and on to the waste treatment plant.
“This is the real contribution of a plumber to society – not what people think of them, which is often as the person who fixes a leak or clears a drain, even though those in themselves are valuable. That is one percent of what plumbers do. As long as there are human beings, plumbers will be in demand.
“Plumbers are literally the reason we live in the manner we live in urban areas,” says Reynolds. “You cannot have the number of people living in one place as we do, unless you can deal with their water needs and sanitation. We just need look at the recent coronavirus outbreak. The first protective measures taken were to wash our hands and sanitise. It is the primary means of preventing disease,” he concludes.