'I feel dirty' - new block of flats in Devon flooded with sewage

  • Watch Bob Cruwys' report

Residents at a block of flats in Devon have found themselves surrounded by sewage - and they say it's the third time it's happened in two years.

People living at Rainbow View in Totnes have had to deal with excrement coming out of the drains in the car park and gathering in their gardens.

But for the first time, some say that human waste has also bubbled up inside their homes.

Nikki Clargo has lived at the new site for a year and a half. She said problems with the drains have become worse and worse.

Nikki told ITV News West Country: "The first thing you'll notice is the smell. Initially, [it] was just stinking of rotten fish whenever I had a shower.

"Yesterday morning, my partner was taking a shower and the faeces came out of the drain whilst he was in the shower and it's still happening now. It's still there.

"I feel dirty. It feels contaminated. I don't want to be in my own home. It's my first home and I think it's disgusting that this should be allowed."

She said that despite alerting those responsible for the flat, the mess has remained.

Nikki said: "I contacted the property management company and the developer and they are both blaming each other and nothing is getting done about it so I still have faeces in my flat. That's quite frankly disgusting."

Nikki's shower still has raw sewage spread around the drain, where it bubbled up from

The property developer responsible for the site says the issue has been fixed. They told ITV News West Country the blockages have been caused by incorrect items put down the drains with heavy rain sparking the most recent overflow.

They said they "have always acted promptly" to fix issues.

But resident Maria Liljeffors said the problems have left her at the end of her tether.

She said: "I've got my own problems, having been ill the last two years not to have deal with all of this and I feel for all the people living in my block."

Her daughter Ishtar added that she is "absolutely heartbroken and disgusted".

"It absolutely stinks here today. It's unbelievable, the smell is unbelievable. It's a total health hazard. It's shocking."

The sewage has run down the street three times in around two year

The building is a former council office which has been redeveloped into flats.

In a statement, developer Totnes Property 1 said: "We have always acted promptly when informed about issues. This is no exception.

"The original company attended on the previous occasion and dug up one of the drains to resolve the issue. Clearly this didn't solve it once and for all.

"Rest assured that we will do everything possible to ensure that it does not happen again."

Apex Property Management says it has been working with Totnes Property 1 to resolve the issue.

A spokesperson said: "Apex staff are on site today (4 January) to liaise with concerned residents, and will be issuing communications to all residents once there is further certainty on when the issue will be rectified."

ITV News West Country understands contractors have now got the drains flowing freely.

Workers have since cleared the drains, and have warned residents to think about what they are flushing down the toilet

Totnes Property 1 said the drainage system was signed off by South West Water in December 2020 following a video inspection but said if they find any issues the firm will work with the original contractor to fix the issues.

They added: "To the best of our knowledge the problem was caused by recent heavy rain and various items such as fat, wet wipes and other items that should not be put down the drains. 

"It is unfortunate that during the cleaning a small amount of wastewater mixed with the jet wash was released into the car park by the contractors.

"Despite having spent many hours on site we are unable to find any issues beyond the ones mentioned above.

"On both previous occasions, the blockage was caused by incorrect items put down the drains. The collapsed manhole last time didn't help. 

"We remain committed to working with all residents and will sort out all issues where we or our contractors are at fault. 

"Unfortunately we can't monitor what people put down the drains or prevent excessive rain. All we can do is to ask residents to work together to prevent any problems."