BACK gardens in a Henley street were flooded with sewage and foul water after an underground mains pipe collapsed.
Engineers from Thames Water are still trying to identify the exact cause of the leak near Baronsmead, off King’s Road, which started on Wednesday last week.
They have stationed a drainage truck at the mouth of the cul-de-sac to prevent further flooding and are digging up the rear patio of a house in King’s Road to reach the pipe.
The company has promised to help residents clean up and to replace or sterilise any soiled items but this week human waste was still strewn across some gardens and householders were awaiting assistance.
A few days before the leak, Baronsmead residents could hear noises coming from their pipes but didn’t report it because they thought the problem was in their properties.
However, foul water containing solid matter then started bubbling up from the rear of the property in King’s Road. It flowed towards Baronsmead because the street lies on a downward slope.
At its worst, the sewage was about two inches deep and could be smelt indoors.
One householder was horrified to see the wooden decking he recently had laid ruined.
James McConville, who lives in Baronsmead with his wife Jo, said: “The leak began on the Wednesday afternoon and gradually trickled down from garden to garden.
“We got off lightly because our kitchen has been extended into what would otherwise have been part of our garden. The extension blocked the flow so only a small patch to the side of the building was affected.
“It was quite worrying, though, because we could see it bubbling through into the garden next door and rising rapidly. We weren’t sure how bad it might get.
“Thames Water’s clean-up team were very nice but they’re extremely overworked. They started helping us last week but then they got called off to a bigger incident elsewhere.
“We all very sorry for the people who live in the house in King’s Road. We’ve asked what happened but the workmen aren’t certain yet. I think it’s a serious environmental health hazard.”
The couple’s neighbour Jean-Yves Pitarakis said: “Basically, we’ve had raw sewage bursting through our gardens, although some have since been cleaned. Thames Water’s response was pretty quick but it’s worrying to see that tanker parked up there.”
A Thames Water spokeswoman said: “We’re sorry for the disruption caused by our collapsed sewer repairs. It is essential and complex work which we expect to continue into next week.
“We appreciate our customers have had to wait too long for us to clean-up the affected area. It is unacceptable and we’re making this work a priority.”