Flood victims urged to call emergency number

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FLOOD-prone residents have been told how they can help to kick-start improvements to an ‘unacceptable’ sewage system which fails during heavy rain.

Laurie Pocock, chairman of Birdham Parish Council, said many of his neighbours were fearful of using their toilet facilities last Thursday morning because the ‘over-whelmed sewage system’ caused toilets to ‘bubble-up’.

He said the manholes were overflowing and the sewage pumping station in Court Barn Lane stopped working.

“This is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“Whenever we have rain the sewage system is completely overwhelmed.

“When it over whelms, it switches off all the pumps and no one in Birdham can use their toilets.”

In order to make Southern Water aware of the problem, Mr Pocock said residents must call the agency’s emergency number whenever this problem occurs.

Mr Pocock hoped this would push Southern Water to do something to improve the system.

He also hoped that alerting the agency might encourage it to warn the council against permitting more developments in the area.

A Southern Water spokesman confirmed the pumping station had stopped working because it was overwhelmed.

He said: “We apologise to customers in Birdham who were affected by the torrential rain overwhelming our Court Lane pumping station last week.

“The site was operating but simply overwhelmed by the sheer amount of water.

Further investigations will be carried out this week to confirm that the site is performing at its optimum.”

87-year-old Joy Manning, of Church Lane, Birdham, woke up to see her garden filling with flood water that morning, causing her great distress after having to vacate her home for more than six months during floods in 2013.

Joy told Mr Pocock about the flooding, who in turn called WSCC.

A WSCC workman attended the area and turned on the surface water pump at the ditch in Joy’s road at about 9.30am, a couple of hours after the rain began.

Joy said she found the lack of effective drainage very stressful.

“They put me through all that distress for nothing.

“My garden was still being revamped from the last flood. I’m back to square one again now and I’m exhausted.

“I can’t have my garden flooding every time there’s a drop of water.”

A WSCC spokesman said the surface water pump was turned on before the ditched filled.

However he said that ‘restricted flow’ through a drain under Walwyn Close, in Birdham, was contributing to flooding.

He said: “WSCC Operation Watershed is currently working with the parish council and resident groups to develop a project to repair or replace a drain under Walwyn Close which carries surface water.

“Restricted flow through this pipe has been identified as contributing to flooding in this location and West Sussex installed the pump last winter to alleviate the situation.

“It has been left in situ at the request of the parish council to reassure residents until the long-term remedial works can be undertaken.”

The Dolphin and Anchor, in the city centre, was also flooded on Thursday after rain water seeped into the restaurant area from the back door.

The pub had to close for the morning but staff were able to clear up the water and open in time for lunch.

Southern Water’s emergency number is 0845 278 0845.