Chichester mum shocked by Southern Water response following raw sewage ‘explosion’ in garden

A mother-of-three, who has been waiting days for Southern Water to clear the ‘piles of raw sewage’ from her garden, has said the company’s response to the incident was ‘absolutely shocking’.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 4:59 pm
Sam Langley, alongside images of the mess in her garden

Sam Langley alerted Southern Water on Sunday after the tops of four manhole covers in the garden of her Stockbridge Road home came off, causing a ‘sewage explosion’.

“The tops blew off and the sewage came out,” the 47-year-old said. “There were piles of sludge and disgusting stuff, piles of raw sewage in my garden.”

Luckily Southern Water staff were already in the area because her neighbours had complained about sewage coming up out of other manhole covers nearby.

The staff promised to come back to help clear up the next morning, and at around 11.30am on Monday they arrived to help Sam in the garden.

This was made more complicated by the fact that Sam, who works in a hairdressing salon in the Witterings, was having a new patio put in and the ground was covered in hardcore.

Sam went to work and assumed, when she got home, that the issue was sorted. But when she went outside she said: “There was actually sewage still out there in my garden.”

Since then, she said she had been phoning up several times everyday asking for them to come back and finish the job – but that no one had come back out.

“No one is coming to help,” she said. “They haven’t even contacted me.

“It’s an absolutely shocking state of circumstances. I just think it’s awful.”

She said her three daughters and her pets – three dogs and a cat – had been unable to use the garden since then.

“I am at a loss of what to do to,” she said.

A spokesman from Southern Water said: “We sincerely apologise for the delay in return to complete a secondary clean-up at Ms Langley’s property.

“Our crews were able to clear the blockage by pressure jetting and the flood subsided pretty quickly.

“However, due to it being dark the clear up was done the following day and we also undertook to carry out a further clear up which has unfortunately been slow.

“An appointment to revisit and complete the more thorough clear up was arranged prior to contact from the Observer, but this should have happened even sooner and we are truly sorry.”

The spokesman said that the reason for the flooding was a blockage caused by fat in a separate manhole some distance from the property.

This highlights the problem caused by people still wrongly pouring cooking fats down their sinks, the spokesman said.

“While we have carried out multiple campaigns to try and educate people on this matter, it continues to happen and we would like to take the opportunity to remind people that you not only jeopardise your own property but your neighbours too, when disposing of any fat, oil or grease down drains,” the spokesman said.