Sewage running through gardens of Banbury area village

Residents in Fritwell are growing increasingly frustrated with the village's outdated sewage system as it struggles to cope with the rain and additional homes forcing sewage water to run through people's gardens.

Toilet paper strewn in one of the effected gardens
Toilet paper strewn in one of the effected gardens

The current problems began to occur around Christmas when sewage water began flowing from the manholes and drains in the Forge Place area of the village eventually running into a watercourse.

Resident Steven Grey whose elderly parents live in one of the homes effected in Forge Place said: "We get the problem whenever it rains. It's been doing it for years, long as I can remember.

"Obviously this is been a real bad year but what happens down the bottom of Forge Place where my parents live. The sewer works cannot take the volume and it backs up through the system. Because it can't get away it comes out the drains."

Tissue paper in the sewer water gets deposited

The sewage system, including a pump house just outside the village, is the responsibility of Anglian Water who residents say have been lacking in their responses to the ongoing problems, even when the water was coming into Steven mum's home.

Steven said: "I have lost track of the number of contacts I've made with Anglian Water who's responsible for the work and I keep getting various stories. Last night lady rang me to keep me updated with the system or what was going on with my mum's garden and she said we've been out today, resolved it, we've had tankers there.

"I say to her 'that's interesting, I was at the house for about three hours, making a little ditch for the sewer water to run down and I haven't seen anybody, I haven't seen any tankers.'

One resident with professional experience of the water sector but who did not want to be identified, said: "To be honest, the way they've been treated is horrendous. This had old people, internal flooding, external flooding and pollution, everything that should have escalated the job to its highest level."

New houses are being built in the village with developments of between nine and 20 houses already built or planned for the future and it is this additional strain on the sewer system that many villagers believe is compounding the problem.

"The problem is Anglain's asset, being the treatment works isn't isn't able to cope with the volume or the volume that is expected. They've allowed so many developments in the village. They need to make serious asset investment in this area," added the industry expert.

The water company, however, dispute this and claim the problems are due to a blockage. An Anglian Water spokesperson said: “We have continued to see large volumes of rain fall in parts of region this week.

"This combined with the already saturated ground means that in some areas our sewers are full to capacity. Our teams have been working hard across the region to ensure our sewer network is running as it should and can take this excess water away as quickly as possible.

“Following recent investigations, our engineers discovered a blockage on the sewer system in Fritwell caused by a build-up of wet wipes, fats, oils and other unflushables being wrongly put down the drain. This will have reduced the sewer capacity further and in conjunction with the wet weather, caused water to back up.

“Our team successfully cleared the blockage, and will be undertaking a further clean-up of the gardens nearby. Once the water level has receded we’ll be checking the sewer to ensure it’s working as it should.

“Sadly, blockages aren’t uncommon and people wrongly disposing of unflushables items down the drain and causing blockages costs us £19million a year, money that could ultimately be better spent elsewhere, as well as damaging the environment. This why we ask people to only flush the three P’s – paper poo and pee.”

Steven said: "It was in the town and affecting more people it would be a different story."