Village struggles with rising sewage and floodwaters

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. 

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Plumbe

Sewage is continuing to bubble up from manholes into already flooded gardens in a north Norfolk village, as Anglian Water admits it "cannot deal" with the volume of water there.

Residents in part of Burnham Market have been unable to flush ground floor toilets since mid-January and gardens and fields have been flooded

Nina Plumbe, one of those affected, said the flooding was partly due to the high water table causing the Goose Beck stream to run, which filled cellars in the middle of the village with water. She said that water was then pumped out on the highway.

Mrs Plumbe said: "That water then runs down, unfortunately gets into Anglian Water's porous sewers, and that's all ended up with us this year. 

The scene at a property in Burnham's Market's east.

The scene at a property in Burnham's Market's east. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Plumbe

"My manhole is full to the top. We've still got sewage coming out of the manholes." 

Rob Kelly, Anglian Water's regional network manager, said they were doing everything they could to alleviate the flooding, but these were exceptional circumstances. 


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Mr Kelly said: "We've had the wettest rainfall for the past 100 years in both December and January which has caused the ground to become saturated. That's led to infiltration of our foul water system. Where we're tankering from just down the road in Burnham Market, that's under a foot of surface water. The reality is, we just can't deal with that volume." 

Mr Kelly said they were working with Norfolk County Council and the Environment Agency to get special permits to pump the flood water out. He said: "The groundwater there is just overwhelming everything and is getting into the system via every conceivable route."

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. 

A manhole at Burnham Market, with sewage visible bubbling up from underground. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Plumbe

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Mr Kelly said Anglian Water was now using 120 tankers instead of the usual 60 to deal with flooding across its network, with some tankers coming from as far as Manchester.

Mrs Plumbe called for a more "joined-up" approach between the different authorities and Mr Kelly said that while they were working together, there was room for improvement, especially when it came to surface water and run-off from fields. 

An Environment Agency flood warning is in place for the River Burn for February 3 and 4, with flooding expected between South Creake and Burnham Thorpe.

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