Saturday, 16 December 2017

Floods of raw sewage but no running water

A MANAGEMENT consultant who has been forced to use neighbours’ showers and loos for four months has launched a petition

A MANAGEMENT consultant who has been forced to use neighbours’ showers and loos for four months has launched a petition prompting Thames Water to clean up its act.

Alison Hussey of Mill End has been unable to use running water in her house since November unless she checks the drain outside her house because the sewers in the area cannot cope.

Raw sewage has flooded driveways and fields around Rotten Row and effluence has also leaked into the adjoining brook several times. Two tankers have been working up to 16 hours a day to remove excess waste from Hambleden pump station — but neighbours want a long-term solution.

Ms Hussey says she spends about 40 hours a week trying to get through to Thames Water, but says the company’s “stonewalling” has forced her to start the petition, which already has 500 signatures.

She said: “It’s been a fight. You phone the emergency number to report a problem and if you are lucky you are given a reference number — but nothing happens.

“It has just felt like they didn’t care at all. They have no concept of what it’s like living with this on a daily basis. It’s extremely frustrating and exhausting. You are used to these sort of things working and when they don’t it has a knock-on effect on the rest of your life.”

She explained that the problem started in November after a period of heavy rainfall.

“It flooded at the junction and then the stream was very high and it started to smell,” she said. “I noticed there was a sound in my bathroom like a rushing waterfall and that’s when I saw the drain was quite full.”

Since then, she has been showering at friends’ and neighbours’ houses, burning toilet paper and throwing away water after washing up.

She said: “The people round here have been lovely but you can’t just turn up and use these things free of charge so I’ve brought flowers or a bottle of wine and it all adds up. After a bath or shower you just want to relax — but I haven’t been able to do that. I have no privacy.

“I had to get away for a few days and when I came back the drain cover was off and it was full of faeces and it was not mine. It was absolutely disgusting.”

Ms Hussey believes drains in the Hambleden Valley were installed in the Fifties and are responsible for the flooding because they are unable to cope with modern-day life.

She said: “I am hoping this local petition will encourage people who have lived in the area for a lot longer to come forward with the history behind these issues. The previous owner of my house experienced similar flooding in 2003 so it’s not a new problem.”

Neighbour Alan Brunskill said his drive was flooded with sewage for three days over Christmas.

He said: “There is quite a bit of noise from the tankers — we can hear them arrive at about 6 or 7am. There’s this smell of diesel fumes and there is also the smell of the sewage which is currently overflowing from the pumping station.

“We don’t want to have this every time it rains so we want to keep the pressure up to encourage a long-term solution.”

A Thames Water spokesman said: “The main issue is the failure of the natural drainage system — rivers and groundwater — caused by the wettest year on record in England. This problem has been added to by a blockage in a sewer at Hambleden. We cleared this blockage overnight last Monday.

“We sympathise deeply with people affected by these problems. Where our customer service has fallen short, we are also sorry.”

Thames Water’s local area manager has met with residents and a “roadshow” took place on Wednesday.

The petition is at www.gopetition.com/petitions/sewage-and-the-waste-water-flooding-thames-water.html

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