SOUTHERN Water has come under fire from Havant’s MP for failing to sort out a smelly flooding problem once and for all.
David Willetts MP criticised the water company for not finding a permanent solution to raw sewage spewing up into people’s gardens.
For the last 20 years residents in Brooklands Road and Maylands Road, Bedhampton, have to put up with sewage in their gardens whenever there is heavy rain.
The problem occurs because sewer pipes running down Maylands Road are about nine inches in diameter – and at the bottom of the hill in Brooklands Road they are three inches narrower.
A storm quickly overloads the sewers. One woman, Carole Martin, cannot even flush her toilet during heavy rain as the water backs up.
Following pressure from residents, Mr Willetts wrote to Matthew Wright, the chief executive of Southern Water, based in Worthing.
The company replied, saying that increasing the sewer capacity would cost more than £1m. Southern Water said not enough customers were affected to warrant the cost.
Mr Willetts said: ‘I think it’s very cruel on local people who have suffered this problem for years.
‘They should not be expected to put up with sewage flooding on a regular basis. I am very disappointed by the response.’
There was anger from residents.
Jim Graham, chairman of North Hill Bedhampton Residents’ Association, said: ‘It’s just intolerable. Do they expect people to live in these conditions for another 20 years?’
A statement from Southern Water said there were not the funds available to increase capacity. Officials said the capacity would need to be increased by several hundred metres.
The company has, however, agreed to explore other ways of tackling the problem, including reducing surface water run-off into the foul sewerage system.
Marie MacBain, from the directors’ review team at Southern Water, said: ‘This may require a multi-agency investigation of surface water flooding, land drainage systems, highway drainage and a detailed survey of property drainage.
‘In addition the capital scheme will be re-assessed in light of the customer research which is being undertaken in the 2015 to 2020 Business Plan. In the meantime we have put in place a proactive twice-yearly jetting programme to ensure that the former private sewer is clear and free-flowing.’