RESIDENTS of Hambleden were unable to use their bathrooms for five days after they were flooded with sewage.
Toilets were blocked and large puddles appeared outside a number of homes in the centre of the village after the drains burst.
Julie Roberts, 34, had to use public toilets and the shower at her gym after she discovered almost an inch of water covering her bathroom floor.
She said: “Most of the houses in Hambleden have bathrooms downstairs so people couldn’t use them. The toilet bowls were full of waste water. The problem was so bad — all the drain covers were lifting because there was so much water in them.
“My partner and I were using public toilets in the car park at Hambleden Mill.”
Ms Roberts, who installs MRI scanners in hospitals, said she called Thames Water on December 31 to say that water was lifting drain covers outside her home.
Two days later, a workman came out and took photographs. However, nothing else happened and she said drains kept “gurgling”.
Then last week she realised there was a serious problem after speaking to other villagers and learning that residents in cottages owned by the Hambleden Estate had also reported high water levels to Thames Water.
Bathroooms flooded on Thursday last week and were unusable until Tuesday. Ms Roberts’ bathroom floor has been stained black as a result.
The problem was only solved when Thames Water hired a company called Lanes for Drains to pump water out of the drains using a tanker on Monday evening.
Ms Roberts said: “Because the drain levels were so high, people were unable to use their toilets. The sewers go through the two fields to the north and south of the village and the manholes had spread excrement.
“Although Thames Water was told about this by numerous people they didn’t seem to care or be able to join up all the dots and put the complaints together.
“The thing people are really annoyed about is we have all been ringing up over the last few weeks but it had to flood someone’s house before they came to deal with it. They didn’t seem bothered that people couldn’t use their toilets.
“I asked if we could have some portable loos and they said it wasn’t their responsibility to provide toilets.”
She had feared the problem would return and wanted a tanker to remain in the village until the problem was resolved.
“At peak times of the day when everyone is using their bathrooms in the morning the water levels are still going up,” she said.
“There has also been no feedback from Thames Water about what they are going to do to decontaminate our homes or any advice to us on what we should do.” Her partner Jamie Baker, a TV producer, said: “The drains have been blocked several times since we moved in about two years ago.
“It’s a constant battle with Thames Water so there’s clearly an issue with the
“Thankfully, we’re through this now but the company didn’t act quickly enough. If it had, we would never have got that stuff in our bathroom.”
A group of residents handed out leaflets asking people to restrict their water use.
Another villager, who didn’t want to be named, said: “My toilet has been blocked to the point of nearly overflowing into the bathroom. The problems are above the guys who came here. They say they need a tanker 24/7 but that needs to come from the management.
“These pipes have been here since the Fifties. Back then, people had occasional baths but now people shower at least once a day and use gadgets like washing machines and dishwashers. The pipes aren’t adequate any more.”
A Thames Water spokesman said poor weather had caused the natural drainage system to fail and fat from food waste had blocked one sewer. It was cleared on Wednesday.
The spokesman added: “Food fat should never go down drains because while it slips down sinks easily when warm, it cools down in our sewers and sets into hard ‘fatbergs’, which leads, in cases like this, to sewage backing up into people’s homes.
“We sympathise deeply with any of our customers who have been sewer-
flooded. It is truly disgusting and we are committed to ending this problem.”
He said tankers had been in high demand following the recent floods and the company had to prioritise.
* The Stag and Huntsman pub in Hambleden was unable to serve draught lager and beer for several days between Christmas and New Year after the cellar was flooded with 5ft of water.