‘Sewage flooded our garden over Xmas’
The grounds of a home in Totternhoe were flooded with sewage over Christmas, leaving a family unable to shower or even flush their toilet for several days.
Julian and Margaret Kirkby’s home in Castle Hill Road was left surrounded by sewage after what Mr Kirkby referred to as ‘untreated effluent surcharging’.
He said that every time a shower was used or a toilet was flushed he could see the waste rising in the back garden.
“Whilst I understand that flooding caused by excessive rainfall is beyond anyone’s control, surely we should not have to suffer the indignity of being flooded with effluent nearly every time it rains for more that a few hours.
“It’s not left us without a house but it has affected Christmas. I was up in the early hours making sure it doesn’t come into the house.
“I’m not normally a worrier, but I’m worried about this. Our health is at risk.
“I could cope with it if it was clean water, but it’s not – it’s human waste.”
Julian, 52, and Margaret, 46, share their home with daughters Katie, 23, and 14-year-old Ann-Marie.
Julian added: “We have obviously been in contact with Anglian Water every day but have been merely told four times that ‘a tanker will definitely be with you today’ – it has not yet appeared.”
This is not the first time Mr and Mrs Kirkby’s garden has been flooded with waste – they had the same problem in March 2010, as reported by the Gazette at the time.
Mr Kirkby said his garden has flooded four times since then.
He said: “We’ve only lived here since 2001 but some of our neighbours have told us flooding like this has been going on for decades, sometimes two or three times a year.
“We are, quite frankly, at our wits’ ends and couldn’t even move house would we want to – who would consider buying a house with this sword of Damocles hanging over it?”
After being contacted by the Gazette, a spokesman for Anglian Water said that a tanker would be sent on Thursday afternoon. Mr Kirby confirmed they did not arrive as promised.
Anglian Water said: “We are having to prioritise calls on a minute-by-minute basis due to the weather we’ve been having, and internal flooding is the main priority.
“We’re really sorry, we’re doing everything we can.
“We also have a permanent solution planned for the new year.”
On Friday Mr Kirkby told the Gazette the flooding had temporarily subsided – but had returned before noon.
He said: “I can see it rising and rising – there are bits of toilet paper floating in it.
“Anglian Water phoned us last night to tell us they won’t be sending a tanker round.”
A different spokesman for Anglian told the Gazette on December 31: “If there was a tanker scheduled for Thursday it would have been re-assigned to a case with a higher priority.
It’s not a nice message to send to people that their problem isn’t a priority, but we have to give priority where there is a risk of internal flooding, risk of injury, or even loss of life.
We will do our best to get to them but we have had an unprecedented amount of rainfall and flooding recently.”
Mr Kirkby said: “I’ve written to the Chairman of Anglian Water as well as our MP, Andrew Selous.”
The source of the problem appears to be a grid in neighbour Connie Manning’s garden that is overflowing. Sewage flows into Mr Kirkby’s garden through a gap in her fence – where there is a build-up of excrement.
She told the Gazette: “This is driving me round the bend, it’s absolutely appalling.
“I shouldn’t be living here in this house at the moment – it’s ghastly.”
The flooding also extends to the adjacent Totternhoe Recreation Ground playing field, which is often used by children during school holidays.
Mr Kirkby pointed to the £492m profit Anglian Water posted for the last financial year and asked: “Why can’t they send us a tanker to sort this out?
“This wouldn’t be acceptable in the 20th century, let alone the 21st century.
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Weather for Luton
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 12 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West