FLOODING in Buckskin that has led to the evacuation of 70 homes might not improve until April.
That was the stark message from Tony Curtis, chief executive of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, to concerned residents who attended a drop-in session at the Ridgeway Community Centre last Friday night.
A total of 68 homes in Buckskin have been evacuated since residents first noticed groundwater coming through the floor of their homes on Saturday, February 8.
By the end of this week, the borough council will have spent £300,000 on getting tankers to take away more than 77million litres of sewage-contaminated water.
Mr Curtis said the money has come from “general council funds” but the borough council will try to claim funding back from the Government.
Mr Curtis said the latest advice is that groundwater levels are expected to rise in the coming weeks.
He added: “It could be the end of March, and into April, until we see a reduction in the groundwater. The Environment Agency has done all the modelling it can but with groundwater they cannot be sure where that will come up.”
Mr Curtis told residents he had contacted Gold Command, the county-wide body focusing on the flooding problems, for more help, and as a result, Army and emergency services personnel have been scoping out some more radical solutions this week.
Mr Curtis said: “I have no idea whether they will be successful or not but we are going to try everything. We will do everything we can to resolve the situation.”
He did warn that there is a limit to how much floodwater can be processed by the sewage treatment works, causing borough planners to look at the feasibility of setting up a reservoir.
More than 50 residents attended the meeting, some of whom live in houses that the floodwater has yet to penetrate.
Sophie Millington, 37, told The Gazette that she and her husband would start to pack their belongings after hearing the update from Mr Curtis. The couple live in Cairngorm Close, not far from flooded homes in Prescelly Close.
She said: “We are concerned because we are very close to the water, and hearing tonight that the water is going to get higher is scary.”
Meanwhile, a national newspaper has found that E. Coli levels in water in Basingstoke were 2,500 times higher than those found in normal drinking water. Bacteria in the water can cause stomach bugs or even pneumonia.
Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, told The Sun on Sunday: “If you had to drink either floodwater or toilet bowl water, the toilet would be the much better water.”
The borough council has put up signs in Buckskin warning people not to go in the water, and has now built a temporary pallet bridge by the Ridgeway Community Centre.
Floodwater around the sub-station, in Worting Road, has receded after Royal Navy personnel were deployed to build a wall of sandbags. Two other homes have flooded in the borough – one in St Mary Bourne and another in Upton Grey.