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Last reviewed: 14.4.2014 - 12.13pm
Floodwater entering our sewer network caused the levels inside the pipes to rise, and when there was nowhere left for the water to go it came back up to the surface via manholes.
In some places this led to the flooding of the homes and gardens of our customers. In other places, such as Wraysbury, our pumping stations and other assets were submerged with river water and local people were unable to use their toilet facilities.
Our sewer system is designed to take wastewater from homes and businesses, not to take storm or river water. In the vast majority of sewer flooding cases our network has not failed.
It has worked exactly as it was designed to do, but has been simply overwhelmed by the flooding, whether from rivers or groundwater.
More detail on this winter's sewer flooding, advice for those affected and what we're doing about it is available on this page and in our update leaflet:
In the middle of February and once water levels started to subside in most areas we began a massive cleaning programme, some of which is still ongoing. We worked with local authorities and the Environment Agency to coordinate how we tackled hotspot areas, and our operation to make contact with affected customers, tidy up sewer debris, and disinfect areas affected by sewer flooding continues.
Some areas, such as Lambourn in West Berkshire and the Hughenden Valley are still suffering from groundwater flooding. We appreciate this is a frustrating time for our customers wanting to get their lives back to normal, but the sheer amount of water in the sewer system means the network will take time to recover and process the high volume of water in the pipes.
While we wait for water levels to reduce in those areas where groundwater levels are still high, we’re doing our best to monitor water levels, visit affected areas and clean-up, and we’re working very closely with local authorities and the Environment Agency to see how we can work together to reduce the risk of groundwater/riverwater entering the sewer network in the future.
If the outside of your home has been flooded (gardens, driveways):
If water levels have reduced and flooding around your property has subsided contact us on 0845 9200 800. If water levels are still high please bear with us as we will be unable to help at this stage. As soon as levels drop we will be able to assess the situation.
If you have had sewer flooding inside your house:
If you are suffering from flooding inside your home please call us on 0845 9200 800 and we will arrange for a team to clear any sewer litter and disinfect the floors. You should also contact your household insurance provider to discuss any additional clean-up service they may be able to offer.
If roadside gullies are blocked and water cannot enter them, contact your local council.
Your local authority is responsible for managing and controlling groundwater. Please report groundwater flooding to them.
Contact the Environment Agency on their 24-hour Floodline 0845 9881 188. If your property is flooded by river water, contact your home insurers as soon as possible.
Groundwater levels across our region remain exceptionally high and we know customers are still experiencing flooding.
It is your local council’s responsibility as the lead flood authority to risk assess groundwater flood risks, and have plans for groundwater in their respective areas. We will continue to work closely with them to help alleviate any groundwater issues in our sewer network.
Unfortunately, we cannot pump or tanker groundwater away except where flooding is limited and/or vulnerable institutions (e.g. schools, hospitals and nursing homes) are at risk. We do not provide portaloos, sandbags or other resources to protect individual properties. Please contact your local authority for advice on protecting your property.
Browse the following pages on our website for more information and advice on the current situation.
Useful links from other authorities include:
We are responsible for making sure our sewer network is well maintained and running smoothly, but our remit does not extend to investigating and solving groundwater, river flooding or surface water problems. This falls to local authorities and the Environment Agency.
However we want to better understand how our network reacts to flooding. During the floods we carried out an aerial survey of our region to look at the impact of river flooding and we’ll use this data in studies to improve our sewer network.
In some areas we are making emergency funding available for studies into the sewer network and we will continue to work very closely with the Environment Agency and local authorities to assess flood risk across our region.
In December we also submitted proposals to our regulator Ofwat to spend £2.4bn in 2015-20 on our wastewater network.