A couple awoke to find raw sewage flowing into their garden – and it’s been happening for 20 years.
Jill and Ralph Smith say human waste bursts from the manhole covers around their property in Godalming, Surrey, after “freak weather conditions”.
They sat the local sewage network is too weak to handle torrential downpours, with high water levels creating pressure in the pipes causing the contents to spurt out, Surrey Live reports.
The couple awoke on October 5 to find faeces covering their garden and patio.
But they claim Thames Water didn’t clear up the mess until October 15.
Following Thursday’s heavy rainfall, which sparked a Met Office amber weather warning, it happened again.
Mr Smith, 84, told SurreyLive: “When it rains, more water comes into the system and it’s unable to cope. There’s a backflow and pressure, and the sewage comes out into our garden.
“The sewage [was] still sitting there in my garden and on my patio [more than a week after the October 5 incident]. The odour is obnoxious and you can visibly see that it’s sewage. Someone needs to take notice.
“It really has been going on for a long, long time and I can assure you that it will never get better. It’s only going to get worse, especially with all of these new buildings – industrial and domestic – being built in the area.”
The 84-year-old says he has been sending messages to Thames Water since 1999 but “nothing has solved the problem”.
“Endless” CCTV surveys have been carried out to “look at the pipework”, he said, adding that the water company have taken hundreds of photos.
He’s also appealed to local MP Angela Richardson, but received no response.
Thames Water mentioned installing a part to the pipes, which will prevent waste overflowing into his garden, but he says they are yet to install it.
A water level sensor installed around five or six years back helped on some occasions, but was not nearly effective enough, he said.
Mr Smith said “no solution has been proposed” beyond that, but he will “keep pushing” until something is done to permanently fix it.
He continued: “If there is no further improvement in the Thames Water sewage system, it’s only going to get worse. Money is the only thing that is going to solve it.”
He added: “It’s a health hazard and [the sewage was] there for days – it’s unfortunate.”
A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Sewage flooding is horrible, and we sympathise with the couple for the long-running issues they’ve experienced.
“The sewer network in the area is a combined system, meaning the pipes take foul water from loos, showers and washing machines, as well as rainwater.
“Climate change and population growth are putting increasing pressure on this local network. The area also suffers from high groundwater – this is where water in the soil can get into the network where two sections of pipe meet.
“As a result, the sewers can become overwhelmed, particularly during periods of intense rainfall, forcing diluted wastewater to come up through manholes.”
Blockages can be to blame for flooding, but Thames Water said it has carried out “extensive investigations” at the couple’s home and these have not shown any problems.
The company said it visited the property on two occasions this month and found their pipe was “clear and running normally”. However, further CCTV investigations inside the pipe will be conducted.
The spokesperson added: “We will also discuss with them about fitting a ‘sewer depth monitor’ which will automatically alert us when the water level inside the pipe gets above a certain level.”
Thames Water said the couple’s case has been added to its Sewer Flooding History Database, which holds all reported flooding incidents within the Thames Water region. The database aims to categorise the reports by their cause, date and extent.