Villagers in Winkwell suffer a poo problem after flooding causes sewer overflow

Cottages in Winkwell, near Berkhamsted, March 2014 PNL-141103-095237001
Cottages in Winkwell, near Berkhamsted, March 2014 PNL-141103-095237001

Record rainfall in recent weeks may be receding in the memory, but the downpours have caused a stinky problem for villagers in Winkwell after sewers overflowed.

The pumping station was unable to cope with the exceptionally wet weather and the influx of extra water was too much for the system – and that meant raw sewage ran through the village in the deluge.

Even though the flooding has now subsided, the sewers are still backed up and Kevin Weare – who co-owns the Middlesex & Herts Boats Services yard – says he has been battling with authorities since Christmas to get the problem sorted.

He said: “No one wants to know. I’ve called daily for six weeks and they just don’t seem to care.

“We’ve had a couple of people come out but nothing seems to be happening. They’re all passing the buck.”

Kevin described how boatyard employees still cannot use the toilet or shower facilities because every time they do, they overflow again.

He said: “The people who live on boats here can’t empty their toilet tanks.

“It’s just awful. They have to take them up to Apsley or worse still, take them to work with them and empty them there.

“It’s not good enough. The village hall was swimming in sewage.”

The Environment Agency confirmed that it had visited Bourne End village hall – just up the road from Winkwell – in February after a report of sewage overflowing from a manhole in the car park and advised Thames Water to proritise a clean up.

A spokesperson from Dacorum Borough Council assured the Gazette that senior members of its environmental health team were on the case, adding: “We’ve been in touch with Thames Water and Middlesex and Herts Boat Services to discuss the situation.”

A resident in one of the cottages said: “I rang Dacorum Borough Council four times, and I expected them to come out with their pump to suck all the water up – but nothing.

“The water was a torrent down the hill, and it was bringing rubble with it.

“It had washed some of the road away.

“I’ve had an upset stomach too, but I can’t say whether that’s anything to do with it.”

The village pub The Three Horseshoes didn’t escape the problems and had to replace a carpet thanks to the flooding.

A spokesperson for Thames Water said: “Our sewers have been inundated with floodwater from rivers, canals and groundwater when they are only meant to carry wastewater from local homes and businesses.

“This has put a huge amount of strain on our network and our pumping station, which has led to dilute wastewater over spilling from manholes.

“We sympathise with everyone who has been affected by flooding and we’re doing our best to help in difficult circumstances.”