Poo is not a dirty word for the Powell brothers – it’s a family business.

Because siblings Phil and Ian are among three generations to have worked at Severn Trent’s Minworth Sewage Treatment Works since the company was formed 50 years ago. The sprawling plant treats an average of 6,600 litres of sewage per second from almost two million people across Birmingham and the Black Country but can see that figure double during heavy storms.

And the Powell family – all massive Aston Villa fans - have been at the heart of the operation since the then Severn Trent Water Authority was launched in 1974, later becoming Severn Trent. The brothers’ late dad Albert joined the company that year and worked at the plant, whose origins date back to Victorian England.

Phil joined his father at Minworth in 1981, aged 21, before younger brother Ian arrived in 2005. Phil’s son Jordan, daughter Dionne and even his wife Barbara have also previously worked at the site while their nephew, Ryan Conway, was employed there too.

Together the Powells have clocked up more than 75 years at the sewage treatment works, with dad-of-two Phil now one of the longest serving employees at Severn Trent - having served an incredible 42 years with the company. The senior technician, who grew up in Castle Bromwich, said: “My dad spent 20 years in the car trade at Morris and British Leyland.

“It was a time of strikes and you never got paid when striking, so he had to do all kinds of jobs from window cleaning, delivering bread, and even picking spuds to look after his family.

“He saw an advert for what would become Severn Trent and applied for a job at Coleshill incinerator and later moved to Minworth. He worked here for 20 years until his retirement and loved his job. Dad actually told me about the role going at Minworth in 1981 when I was working in plumbing and heating, which was a good money in the winter, but not in the summer!

“So, when my dad mentioned the job I applied - and never looked back. Ian came later, then my two kids and also my wife also worked here for a short while.

“It’s wonderful that so many members of my family have worked here, that’s very special.” Sadly, Albert died in 2018 but his family legacy has continued through Phil and Ian and the family, who have seen millions of pounds being invested at Minworth over the years.

“The site has changed dramatically since I first started, including the use of technology,” said Phil (left in pic) who is a season ticket holder at Aston Villa, along with Ian.

“We used to have all our own tradesmen based here, from welders to even blacksmiths, so it was a very busy site. We used to even have fishermen using the ponds and martial arts groups used to hold meetings at the old visitor centre, which was later closed.”

He added: “There have been many memorable moments for me over the years. One of the most dramatic was during a huge storm in 1996 when I had to help rescue people stranded in their cars outside the plant as the streets became flooded.

“That made the local newspaper at the time. Then there was the time a very upset woman phoned to say she feared she has accidentally flushed her engagement ring down the toilet.

“One of the team visited her at home to take some details – and found it down the settee!” Ian had switched careers from motor insurance after moving back to Birmingham from living down south.

He works as a technical process operator in the activated sludge plant, helping turn the waste water into the cleanest of effluent. The dad-of-four said: “It’s a really interesting job and no two days are the same.

“The settled sewage comes up to the plant and we then make sure there are no impurities through the biological process in the aeration tanks. The best part of my job is problem solving and of course working with my brother, who I see almost every day.

“We are a very close family and we socialise together all the time – including watching the Villa.” Ian has also shown how Severn Trent workers often go that extra mile for customers, helping a local school with building and renovation projects in his spare time.

“It was lovely giving something back to the community,” he said. Phil has also coached school football teams in his own spare time and both brothers have given talks to the community to explain exactly what goes on at Minworth.

Phil previously recalled some of the strangest things flushed down the loo, including toys of Dora the Explorer and Scooby Doo and even false teeth. Phil said: “Nothing surprises you working at this place.

“Of course, the only thing that should be flushed down the loo is the three Ps - poo, pee and paper.” The dad-of-two has also been the public face of Minworth, appearing on radio and TV, including a starring role in the smash-hit ITV documentary, The Sewermen.

He also played host to former Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles during a live broadcast at the site. The brothers spoke out as Severn Trent celebrates its 50th year since forming in 1974. A series of articles are planned, titled: ‘Our people, proudly serving our region for 50 years.’

Speaking to the likeable, chatty siblings, it’s clear they have three passions in life – family, their beloved Aston Villa and Severn Trent. Phil loves his job so much he has become a regular tour guide around the plant for members of the public, including many Women’s Institute groups.

He laughed: “They want to know, like everyone else, what kind of stuff is flushed down the loo. Everyone is fascinated by the whole sewage process.”

Phil could finally be saying goodbye to Minworth when he turns 66 in January – or maybe not. He said: “I get my state pension next January but will review it day by day.  Even if I did pack up, I would like to come in a day or two and do something, a tour with people perhaps.”

Looking back on his career, he said: “I can’t believe I’ve done 42 years; life goes by so quick. I did four different jobs until I was 21 and I’d have probably carried on moving.

“But I got here and found the job so enjoyable, the company was brilliant and of course the people were great. It’s been a wonderful career and Severn Trent has been a great company to work for – and all of my family will agree.”

And long-serving Phil has another milestone this June – 40 years of marriage with Barbara. So, was he planning anything special to mark the big occasion?

“I’ll have to see if Villa have any friendlies lined up first,” he chuckled.