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‘Sewage flooded into my house - the sewers can’t cope with heavy rain’ says East Cambridgeshire villager

A villager has told how sewage flooded into his home when the sewers could not cope with heavy rainfall.

And others living along the northern end of Ely Road in Little Downham said they had also witnessed sewage flooding out of manholes when there was a lot of rain.

Ely Road in Little Downham
Ely Road in Little Downham

They fear the situation will only get worse as more houses are built in the area.

Anglian Water said heavy rainfall was causing “widespread infiltration” of water into the sewers, meaning less capacity for sewage.

But it said the solution would require organisations, businesses and landowners to work together.

Henry Martin, who lives in Ely Road, said: “We happen to be sitting at a low point here and I have got a manhole there. My plant room has flooded - it was a depth of an inch of sewage.

“The sewage that flooded in was very dilute because what happens is the main flow drain coming down the road here gets inundated with storm water and floods the system, and it cannot get that on to the sewage works quickly enough.

“If it keeps happening I will dig a ditch into the storm water ditch and that will just overflow.

“I think now I will take the manhole lid off in times of heavy rain, so it will flood this area [of his garden] - and at least it will not come into the house.”

Mr Martin knew other villages were facing similar problems was aware of others who had been affected even more badly.

Ely Road in Little Downham
Ely Road in Little Downham

The Cambridge Independent reported last month how villagers in Ickleton were going out to use the toilet, shower and wash clothes to ease the problem of sewage flooding their gardens.

Back in Little Downham, Stephen Wright has taken precautions to prevent sewage flooding outside his home.

He had witnessed the manhole cover outside the front of his house being lifted up by sewage and storm water flooding out several times.

He has installed a flow back to prevent the sewage coming back up the pipes leading to his house.

He said the sewers “cannot deal with heavy downpours”.

“It has been an ongoing issue for the last seven, eight years or more,” he added. “It is a massive problem.”

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said the manhole cover in her front garden had also been pushed up more than once, causing sewage to flood out into the garden.

She said: “I think something needs to be done, especially as we have got the allotment in the front garden.”

Another had seen flooding in the road after heavy rainfall and could smell the sewage in the air, while one woman feared that her garden would be flooded with sewage once new homes were built in a development at the back of her home - a concern raised by several of those living on the road.

East Cambridgeshire District Council approved plans in March for 39 new homes on land off Ely Road.

Some residents objected on the basis of the sewage problem but the application was approved after planning officers highlighted that Anglian Water said there was capacity in the sewers for the development.

Mr Martin said this response from Anglian Water had frustrated him.

He said: “What they mean is the storm water should not be in the drain, If the storm water was not in the drain, our sewers are large enough.

“I accept that. What I do not accept is that in times of heavy rain it is inundated with storm water and that is a problem.”

Anglian Water acknowledged storm water was causing a problem for the sewer network in the village.

A spokesperson said: “Our teams continue to work incredibly hard to keep our sewer network running despite the persistent bad weather we’ve seen this winter.

“In Little Downham, the ongoing rainfall combined with the already saturated ground, mean that we’re seeing widespread infiltration of excess water into our sewer network – there is simply a lot of water with nowhere to go.

“It means that while our network is operating the best it can, there’s much less room for the sewage, which can cause problems with flushing toilets, or using showers and washing machines, particularly if they are downstairs.

“Responsibility for flooding and drainage requires response from many different organisations, businesses, and landowners, and it will take a combined response from all involved to put together a plan to address the issue in the long term.”

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