MP hits out at Southern Water over flooding

DELUGE Gordon Coleman at his home in Selangor Avenue when floods hit in December. Picture: Malcolm Wells (000000-1436)
DELUGE Gordon Coleman at his home in Selangor Avenue when floods hit in December. Picture: Malcolm Wells (000000-1436)

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HAVANT’S MP has called upon Southern Water to take some responsibility for flooding chaos last month.

David Willetts has written a strongly-worded letter to the chief executive of the company, Matthew Wright.

He said the company needs to increase the capacity of its sewers and pumping stations.

It comes after several properties in Selangor Avenue, Emsworth, were flooded before Christmas, and foul water swamped gardens in Bridge Road.

Subject to funding, the Environment Agency has committed to building two water storage ponds near the A27.

Mr Willetts said the Worthing-based company now needs to show the same kind of commitment.

His letter said: ‘We want to see Southern Water accepting its share of responsibility as well.

‘The flooding damage is made far worse by the failure of the surface water sewers to handle the capacity that they face.

‘Southern Water has in the past argued that the main problems rest with the Environment Agency and the culverts.

‘That is indeed part of the solution, but we do need a co-operative effort in which every responsible agency does their bit.’

But the water company said blockages at pumping stations – caused by customers – were part of the problem.

Spokesman Sam Underwood said: ‘Southern Water is working closely with the Environment Agency and West Sussex County Council to investigate the recent flooding in Emsworth.

‘Last year was the wettest on record in England and the subsequent high groundwater levels mean many sewer systems and drainage ditches across the region have been overwhelmed.

‘However, the problems at our Bridge Road pumping station, where new pumps were installed last year, were caused by a blockage of fat and non-bio-degradable items which had found their way into the sewer.

‘We ask customers to help us avoid such blockages by not pouring cooking fats down sinks and putting things like sanitary products and cleaning wipes in the bin and not down the toilet.’

But Michelle Bird, whose home in Selangor Avenue was flooded again last weekend, said: ‘It’s just absolutely disgusting. I don’t believe that’s the issue. What’s going to happen when they put all the extra houses here?

‘The pipes are not sufficient to take the flow.’