The street in Port Talbot that keeps flooding that no one's taking responsibility to fix

The street in Skewen keeps flooding after pipes beneath the houses can't cope with the amount of water. Credit: Chloe Phillips/Media Wales

Residents on a street in Neath Port Talbot are having their homes flooded every time it rains due the waterpipes under their houses being unable to cope.

The problem looks set to continue though as there is disagreement over who should fix the issue.

Residents on Caenant Terrace in Skewen say they're being left in limbo. The most recent flood began on Wednesday 11 October, after heavy rainfall hit the country.

However the water is not actually excess rainfall - it's coming from an underground waterpipe located between two houses on the street.

The council has said responsibility to fix the culvert lies with the property owner, as it is located on private land.

However residents claim the issue will continue to happen and will only stop if the council redirects the underground pipe network.

They have now launched a petition calling on the council to take action.

Chloe Phillips who lives on the street says a manhole cover in the lane which conceals the culvert is unable to cope with excess rainfall and is dislodged during heavy downpours. That allows water to escape from the pipe and flood the area.

The fire service has had to attend the situation to try and limit the flooding. Credit: Chloe Phillips/Media Wales

Last month, residents say they saw the water reach knee-high in the lane and ankle-high in the street, and the flooding continued for days.

It finally stopped when the weather dried up - but after the latest heavy rainfall this week it has recurred in full-force.

The situation came to a head just after midnight on Friday, with frustrated residents standing around in the street until the morning and the fire service on hand to help out.

Ms Phillips claims the water flooded people's gardens, caused toilets to fill up, flooded someone's kitchen and has damaged flooring - including her own which she said has "bubbled up."

It is the third time the pipe has flooded this year, according to Ms Phillips.

The 29-year-old resident, who works as a director of a carpentry firm, has been told the responsibility to fix the issue lies with her and her neighbour, as the manhole and culvert are situated on private land.

Neath Port Talbot Council has said that since Wednesday, 20 September, when flooding hit Wales, its operatives and engineers have been onsite to alleviate the situation at Caenant Terrace - providing sandbags and installing pumps to divert the water.

The council has provided sandbags for the area to try and stem the flow of the flood. Credit: Chloe Phillips/Media Wales

But the authority has reiterated it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and repair the pipe - not the council.

It added that the pumps will remain in place, and council workers will monitor the site, until a solution is found by the residents - but until the landowner repairs the pipe, the street and community will "continue to experience the effects of flooding."

Ms Phillips and her neighbours say the problem lies with the underground pipe network as a whole and claims it was due to be redirected "years ago" by the council, but this has not yet been done, so "this is why this keeps happening."

"It’s got to a point now where we see each other on the street and we say: ‘It’s happened again,'" she said.

Ms Phillips said another culvert at the top of road is also flooding, and claimed that even a drainage officer from the council admitted recently "the system isn't fit for purpose."

She believes there is "no point" for residents to fix the culvert themselves through their own insurance until the council reroutes the network.

The council previously confirmed it has been developing a large-scale multi-million pound flood alleviation scheme in the broader area of Skewen, which takes this location into consideration, and this project is now entering its final design phase.

However, it said construction is not guaranteed as work is subject to continuing Welsh Government grant funding support.

In 2019 the Welsh Government provided the council with £765k to develop a flood scheme for Caenant Terrace, covering all costs associated with modelling, appraising and designing it, but the local authority will need to ask for more funding for construction work to take place.

Temporary infrastructure has been put in place to drain the water away. Credit: Chloe Phillips/Media Wales

A Welsh Government Spokesperson said: "We have provided Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council with £765,000 to develop a scheme for Caenant Terrace, and they are currently working on a scheme that will benefit the wider community of Skewen.

"Once this is completed, the local authority will need to submit a bid for construction funding."

A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesperson said: “As part of an emergency response to the situation in Skewen since Wednesday, 20 September – when flooding was widespread across Wales - our operatives and engineers have been on site supporting the residents by providing sandbags to protect properties from flooding and pumps in a bid to divert excess water back into the drains.

"Despite our efforts over the last few weeks, the torrential rainfall on Monday, 9 October, and Thursday, 12 October, overwhelmed the system once again.

"Pumps have recently been increased in size and capacity, and we are still investigating the impact and cause of the flooding. The pumps will remain in place until there is a solution found by the residents, and Neath Port Talbot Council will attend the site periodically during times of prolonged rainfall.

The dispute between local residents and the council looks set to continue. Credit: Chloe Phillips/Media Wales

“As previously iterated the culvert at this location is a private pipe and the responsibility of the land owner to maintain and repair, ensuring an unimpeded flow of water through it. We are aware that there is an impediment in this structure that is causing flooding to the immediate area and the surrounding community.

"Under the Land Drainage Act 1994, it is the responsibility of the property owner to repair this pipe, not the council.

"We will continue with open dialogue with the residents who are responsible, however, until this pipe has been repaired by the land owner, Caenant Terrace and the surrounding community will continue to experience the effects of flooding.

“In incidents such as this the council in its capacity as the Lead Local Flood Authority, will always provide emergency support to reduce the flood risk to the surrounding community.

"It is important to recognise that Neath Port Talbot Council has been fully engaged in the issue since September 20th and throughout this time has supported and met with residents and elected members on a regular basis, to try to establish a way forward with this very difficult and sensitive issue.

"We will continue to help and support the residents for the foreseeable future until they initiate a long term solution.”

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