Man plagued by raw sewage flooding Gloucester home - for 40 years

The front of Brian's home is flooded every time it rains Credit: Carmelo Garcia

A Gloucester man says he has had to put up with sewage flooding his home for the past 40 years due to an "inadequate" sewage system.

Brian Barber, 79, says his Hempsted home was flooded the first day after he moved in some 41 years ago.

Despite requesting help from Severn Trent, Brian and his wife say they can only see the problem getting worse as hundreds of new houses are set to be connected to the “antiquated” sewage system.

He says there is a pinch point in the pipe under the road near Hempsted Post Office which causes water to back up to his home when heavy rain blocks the system.

This means sewage overflows in his back garden - leaving black stains on the ground and small pieces of toilet paper to clear up every time it floods.

A spokesperson for Severn Trent said the firm is sorry to hear of the issues Mr Barber has been facing.

They said an investigation found the issues were caused by "sewer misuse" which has seen a build-up of wipes, fats and sanitary products in the system.

The problem is so bad that Brian and his wife often plan their lives around the weather, making sure they are home when heavy rain is forecast.

Brian said: "The complete sewage system in Hempsted is well past its sell-by date. When I moved into the place there were 100 houses or so, now there are about 4,000 all meeting the same sewerage point.

"Purely due to geography and gravity, I’m at the lowest point around the place. When we get slightly heavy rain, I get water coming up from the sewage manhole at the back of the house.

"The sewage from my house goes uphill to the Hempsted Post Office then down along the road to the docks then way back along Bristol Road and finally into the sewage treatment works.

"The problem is most of the sewage from my area goes to one hole near the post office to go down to the docks.

"But that hole isn’t big enough because when the water gets there it blocks."

Sewage goes uphill to the Hempsted Post Office before it goes the sewage treatment works. Credit: Carmelo

Brian also said another problem is that a lot homes have nine-inch pipes feeding into six-inch pipes.

"The second day I moved into my house, we had a thunderstorm and water came into my house.

"At least twice a year since then I’ve had water coming into my house.

"Severn Trent finally put a heavy manhole cover at the front of my house which stopped the water coming out there.

"But it’s got to go somewhere, now instead it comes out of the manhole at the back of my house.

"When the water goes down it goes black and then I get little dots of white all around my back garden which is toilet paper."

Brian often finds tiny specks of toilet paper at the front and back of his home. Credit: Carmelo

A Severn Trent spokesperson said the firm is sorry to hear about the issues Brian has experienced and understands that flooding of any kind can be distressing.

They added: "When we’ve been out to investigate, we’ve found our network is operating as we’d expect, however the problems have been caused by sewer misuse, where we’ve found a build-up of wipes in the sewer pipe.

"We’ve also found that hydraulic overload happens, which is when sudden, heavy rain occurs that can’t get into the network quick enough, causing rainwater flooding which then subsides.

"We’ve since carried out surveys to help understand why this is happening and will continue to investigate this.

"To help prevent further issues, we also now regularly cleanse the sewer pipe to ensure it is clear and free-flowing, with no build-up of wipes, fats, sanitary products that have been incorrectly put into the network.

"We’re actively working towards a solution to reduce the flooding risk for Mr Barber and will continue to work closely with him on this."

City councillor Paul Toleman had requested a planning condition that a proposed 185-home development at Hill Farm should be connected directly to the nearby Netheridge sewage treatment works rather than the old system.

He requested this after complaints from residents that sewage was appearing in their gardens.

He said: "I considered this a reasonable request which would prevent more unwanted sewage coming up in Hempsted residents’ gardens. For some reason, I fail to understand, Severn Trent refused to accept this."

The planning application has since been approved on appeal. Severn Trent said it does not have the right to refuse connections for new developments and ultimately it is the local planning authority to decide if a development can go ahead.

"Severn Trent will always seek to work with a developer, the LPA, and all other key stakeholders to find ways for approved development to proceed without any adverse impact on our customers or the environment," a spokesperson added.

Credit: Carmelo Garcia, Local Democracy Reporting Service