Selham man says sewage fountain cost him £50,000

Karl Thacker in his garden
Karl Thacker in his garden

A SELHAM man who says he lost computer and car equipment valued at £50,000 when raw sewage flooded his garden is taking action against Southern Water.

Exasperated Karl Thacker has been chasing the water company for compensation and action to restore his garden, since he claimed an eight-foot fountain of sewage erupted from a manhole in the early hours of Christmas morning.

It formed a murky swimming pool in the garden and gushed into a container where he kept computer and car equipment.

When Southern Water ignored his pleas, he went to the water ombudsman and the Environment Agency which are both looking at his case.

And now he has set up a website asking anyone else who has suffered similar problems to contact him in a bid to organise a joint legal case against Southern Water.

“It was disgusting when the sewage spouted out,” he said. “We couldn’t let the children out and it remained a muddy quagmire until April, but still hasn’t completely disappeared.

“I lost thousands of pounds of equipment from the container. I fix computers for a living and keep equipment in the container.

“It meant I couldn’t work and I am claiming £20,000 compensation for loss of earnings as well.

“Cars are my hobby and I also keep car parts and spares in there and it all had to go into a skip.

“We also lost my chickens, garden machinery and tools.”

Mr Thacker has suffered similar problems in the 13 years since he has lived at New Cottages, ‘but this was by far the worst experience’.

Problems occur when the pumping station just outside the boundary of his garden fails.

It pumps sewage from Lodsworth to the Ambersham sewage plant along a pipe which runs under Mr Thacker’s garden where there are three manholes.

The sewage backs up and comes out of the manhole in the middle of the garden.

He discovered his flooded garden on Christmas Eve when the area was hit by a power cut and he went out to the garden shed to set up his generator.

A spokesman for Southern Water said: “We have spent a significant amount of time and money helping Mr Thacker with the flooding issues on his land, even though we are not strictly liable for them.

“The flooding, which happened during the wettest winter on record, was caused by a major power outage which shut down our nearby pumping station. Therefore, Mr Thacker needs to contact the National Grid with regard to his claim for compensation.

“Although Southern Water was not liable for the flooding, we have spent a significant amount of time helping Mr Thacker with the clean-up and trying to accommodate his various requests.

“For example, we helped him clear his shipping container and loaned him another one to use in the interim, as well as carried out soil tests which showed his land was not contaminated.

“We have also sealed some manholes on his land to reduce the risk of flooding in future, although this may not help if the nearby river or other watercourses break their banks or groundwater levels rise above sewer level.

“Our director of operations and several senior managers and engineers have visited Mr Thacker on a number of occasions to explain the cause of the issue and the work we have undertaken.

“We have explained to Mr Thacker that the continued presence of water on his land is due to the high groundwater levels in the area following the wettest winter on record.

“We have made various improvements at the pumping station, including installing a connection for a temporary generator if one is required in the future.

“We are also looking at the possibility of installing a non-return valve on the sewer which crosses Mr Thacker’s land.”