Tide turns in town's sewer crisis

First published in News

WATERstaff seemed to be winning the battle against Romsey’s rising tide of sewage after the town’s system had been overwhelmed by the Christmas and New Year floods.

Yesterday (Thursday), a Southern Water spokesperson said: “We’ve been working 24/7 in Romsey trying to help customers affected by the floods.

“The levels in our sewers are reducing and impact on customers should be easing.

“Throughout the problems, we had between 10 and 15 tankers each able to carry between 4,000 and 6,000 gallons in the area. These have been sucking flows from our sewers, which were overwhelmed by rain and groundwater, and carrying them to nearby treatment works in Romsey and Eastleigh.”

The spokesperson said that tankers had been stood down as the sewer levels had reduced.

It’s not only drains that have been blocked – Romsey’s roads jammed up with queues caused by temporary lights at Mainstone and Winchester Road, two of the worst affected areas.

However, Southern Water confirmed on Thursday that the burst sewer in Mainstone Road (A3090) had been repaired.

Traffic lights in Mainstone remained in place yesterday while repairs were completed.

The lights in Winchester Road, which caused major tailbacks, were also removed on Thursday.

The repercussions of the festive period storms have been felt for the last three weeks.

Residents living along Winchester Road, between the Plaza Theatre and the Botley Road junction, were badly affected, with raw sewage oozing out of drains and into gardens.

Some homes along the same road also suffered from flooded basements. Homes and businesses along Romsey bypass at Mainstone were also badly hit by flooding, including the Three Tuns pub and the Cromwell Arms.

Residents of bungalows for the over-55s at Bridge Court,off Middlebridge Street, were unable to use their toilets for all but one day between Christmas Eve and January 16.

They were also unable to use their washing machines after the sewage pumping station at Greenhill failed again on Thursday afternoon of last week.

On Wednesday, Ken Rushbrooke, who has lived at Bridge Court with his wife, Iris, for 17 years, told the Advertiser: “We’ve had problems before with the toilet filling up after heavy rains, but not to this extent.

“I’m still mobile and I’ve been going over to Romsey bus station and using the public toilets and I have a commode to use at night. We can flush our loo, but we don’t want to overload the system. We are worried about the waste coming up the toilet and overflowing.”

Another Bridge Court resident, who did no wish to be named, heaped praise on Southern Water for the work it had been doing to help solve problems.

She said: “Southern Water really has bent over backwards to help us. They have brought in tankers to get rid of the water in the drains.

“The problem is there are too many houses on the drainage system. Had it not been for this, the system might have been able to cope. What’s it going to be like when they build the 1,300 homes at Whitenap?”

One 95-year-old resident who was in hospital was unable to return home until sanitation facilities hadbeen fully restored at her bungalow.

Elsewhere, Romsey’s Fishlake Meadows Road was still closed to traffic on Thursday because of flooding.

The Environment Agency have warned Test Valley residents to be prepared for further flooding, as groundwater levels continue to rise in some parts of the area.

South-east England Environment Agency director, Howard Davidson, said: “River levels are starting to drop in some places. We are also seeing a risk of groundwater flooding in places such as Hampshire, south Wiltshire, West Sussex and Kent.

“Environment Agency teams continue to work around the clock monitoring river levels, clearing watercourses and working with communities to make them aware of their flood risk. We want to stress to residents that the risk of further flooding has not passed and they should remain vigilant.”

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