Flood-plagued village facing nightmare of blocked loos and bubbling sewage

The scene at a property in Burnham's Market's east.

The scene at a property in Burnham's Market's east. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Plumbe

People living in part of a north Norfolk village have been left unable to flush their toilets - because of a “dire” situation of flooded gardens and overflowing sewage drains. 

And although Anglia Water said it was doing its best to clear and tanker away the excess water from Burnham Market, it would take some time before the properties affected would be back to normal. 

Nina Plumbe, who lives in the village, said: “The situation is dire. We feel so helpless and the situation is not improving. There is sewage bubbling up from the manholes. 

“Our belief is that it’s not just the water table because everything is blocked." 

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. 

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Plumbe



Mrs Plumbe said she had not been able to flush her toilets since January 16, and called for urgent action to be taken. 

She said around seven properties on the eastern side of the village, near the Anglia Water pumping station off Joan Short’s Lane and the River Burn, were in a similar situation.

Another villager, Peter Beck, said: “Everything has worked against us. The rainfall, the water table is up very high and the pumps just can’t take the capacity. 


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“It’s affecting virtually the whole of the Burn Valley. Stuff is coming out of manholes.”

An Anglian Waters spokesperson said: “Our teams are continuing to work across the region to do all we can to help customers and keep our network running.

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"Following such persistent rainfall on already saturated ground, groundwater levels are extremely high and sewers are simply not designed to carry the volume of floodwater we’ve seen or take excess flows from rivers and streams. This is what is causing the flooding we are seeing, rather than a specific problem with our network.

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. 

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Plumbe

“In order to help alleviate some of the recent flooding in Burnham Market, we are tankering water away from our pumping station to ensure the pumps continue working and play their part in reducing the floodwater." 

The spokesman said Anglia Water had a lot of customer call-outs to get around to, so they had to prioritise homes that were flooded or where there was a risk to the environment.

He said: "We will help all customers as soon as we can but it may take us several days to reach everyone, please bear with us."

The spokesman said: “We would urge our customers to sign up to the Environment Agency’s Flood Warning service for the latest flood alerts in their area. Local councils should be contacted for problems with road drains, keeping gullies clear and issuing sandbags if they are needed.

He said people should report emergencies such as loss of toilet facilities or blocked sewers to Anglia Water by phone 03457 145 145, their website or social media. 

As of Friday, January 29, the Environment Agency has a flood warning in place for the River Burn from South Creake to the Burnham Thorpe. 

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