Fears over melting snow as sewerage flooding continues

A Yaxham pumping station pictured on Saturday February 6

A Yaxham pumping station pictured on Saturday February 6 - Credit: Submitted

People living in Norfolk villages where sewage has flooded gardens say they worry melting snow entering the drainage system will bring another bout of the problem.  

Properties in Yaxham, near Dereham, have seen sewage backing up toilets, with problems resurfacing at the weekend.

Breckland district councillor for the area Ian Martin said: “Residents’ patience is pretty limited by this point… One of the challenges will be when the snow starts to melt.” 

Councillor Ian Martin with a resident after tankers removed raw sewage from Yaxham.

Councillor Ian Martin visiting affected residents in Yaxham in December 2020. - Credit: Yaxham Parish Council

Mr Martin said he would speak with Anglian Water and other bodies to ensure extra capacity was on standby. 

Anglian Water has doubled the amount of tankers working across its region after it said December and January saw the most rainfall in the east of England for the last 100 years.

It has warned melting snow may keep water levels high.

Yaxham manhole

Sewage bubbling up through a manhole cover in Yaxham on February 6. - Credit: Submitted

Mr Martin added that constructive talks between the relevant bodies were being held through the Mid-Norfolk Flood Partnership, established by George Freeman, MP for the area, after serious flooding at Christmas.

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In a statement, Mr Freeman said the group had agreed upon a 12-point action plan.

Conservative Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

Local MP George Freeman set up the Mid-Norfolk Flood Partnership following the severe Christmas flooding in his consituency - Credit: Archant

Mr Freeman said: “With heavier rain due to climate change, more house-building without adequate drainage infrastructure, lack of culvert maintenance and too much buck-passing by quangos, many of my constituents are now wading in sewage. We need Action. Now.”

He said he was "delighted" the county council had announced a flood fund and assembled a Norfolk-wide flood taskforce.

In nearby Mattishall, resident Lizzie Hunton, whose garden has been flooded four times in six months, said: “If we get a rapid snow melt and that gets into the system, then that will be worrying.”

Liz Hunton, chairman of the Mid Norfolk Labour Party. Picture: HARRY CLARKE.

Mattishall resident Lizzie Hunton - Credit: Archant

Peter Capuccio, whose bungalow's drainage system backs up after heavy rain, added: “Somebody at some point has got to take ownership and say that there is a problem."

An Anglian Water spokesperson said there was “no specific problem with our network” and added: “Sewers are simply not designed to carry this volume of water we’ve seen or take excess flows from overflowing rivers and streams in some areas.”

They said they were “keen to continue an open and honest dialogue with all stakeholders in the area”.

A county council spokesperson said: “We have inspected the locations where we have received reports of flooding… We will continue to work with others to resolve the wider aspects of land and foul drainage in other areas."