Concerns at reports of sewage overflows
- Credit: Archant
Concerns are bubbling to the surface over Dereham's sewerage situation after reports of drains overflowing with effluent.
And after Anglian Water admitted the existing network is operating at capacity some are also kicking up a stink about the threat of more housing being connected to an already stretched infrastructure.
People living in the east of the town are particularly concerned about the effect of new development - Taylor Wimpey is currently building 226 homes off Norwich Road - and with another 62 homes in the pipeline they fear more flooding will follow.
Neil Starling, who lives on Windmill Avenue, is so concerned that he organised a meeting with Anglian Water and his local district and county councillors.
'The biggest revelation was that they can't stop anyone from connecting to the system,' he said.
'I have seen raw sewage coming out of manhole covers on Norwich Road by the fire station. It makes me wonder how often it happens and what children are walking in when they are coming in and out of the schools.'
Anglian Water confirmed that they had carried out work to enable the 226 new homes being built at Etling View to be connected to the main drains at a build rate of 50 properties a year.
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But in report to Breckland Council in response to the extra 62 homes the water company states: 'The existing sewerage network is operating at capacity and the connection of flows from this development will cause a risk of flooding downstream.'
A spokesman for Anglian Water added: 'In terms of growth of additional properties we do undertake an assessment to ensure there is not a detrimental impact on existing customers.
'It is not within our remit to refuse if it gets planning permission and if the necessary measures are put in place we have to connect them.
'We have a strategy in place to do some upgrades for the system for the east of Dereham and we continue to work closely with everyone involved in planning and work on a five year plan of funding and spending which recognises the expected growth of Dereham.
'We do understand there are concerns.'
Mr Starling, who is retired from the RAF, is digging deeper to discover exactly what problems the sewerage system brings up.
He said: 'One lady I spoke to in Windmill Avenue has been there for 40 years and has had problems ever since she moved in. Adding more houses will only make it worse.'
Taylor Wimpey commissioned engineering consultants Richard Jackson to produce a Foul Drainage Strategy for the 62 homes which, despite acknowledging that some upgrades and strategic work may be necessary to the network, concludes 'there should be no objections to the development proposals with respect to matters of foul sewage disposal'.
District councillor Alison Webb said anyone who has a problem with flooding or sewage backing up in their homes should flag it up with the water company.
'I would encourage people who are experiencing problems of flooding to get in touch with Anglian Water and report it,' she said. 'It is not acceptable for children to have to walk to school through sewage.'
Anglian Water's 24-hour emergency number is 03457 145 145.
Do you have problems with the drains in Dereham? Email email@example.com.