Waste floods gardens after heavy rainfall

Sewage Floods area twice in a few days

By Paul Ainsworth

DISGUSTED residents of a South Belfast street have been left counting the cost after their properties were flooded with sewage twice in a few days. Residents of Sicily Park off the upper Lisburn Road say they have lost faith with NI Water after sudden heavy showers on Monday saw their homes flooded. Drains struggled to cope with the torrents, sewers overflowed into driveways, gardens and garages, while residents fought to keep the sewage tide from entering their homes.

Just the Friday before heavy rain had also caused the street to flood forcing the Fire Service to arrive and pump the sewage water away. However, following the second flood, angry residents say they have lost faith with NI Water, who have planned to create a new £35 million sewer project for the area but which is not estimated to begin until 2015.

Sicily resident Mary Young, whose back garden was destroyed by the tide criticised the aging sewage network and said locals were left frantic every time it rains.

“We are going to have to throw everything in our garden out, including furniture and kids toys, as they were all swamped with the sewer water,” she said.

“It was a very quick, heavy shower and the water level rose very quickly. Along our row of houses we had to rush to barricade the doors to stop it entering the house but the garage, and especially the garden, are destroyed.”

Neighbour Stanley Ainsworth, whose back garden was also flooded, estimated the property damage to be up to £3,000.

“The problem is how fast the floods occur, and before you know it, the garden is completely covered in water and raw sewage. It will be a costly repair here, but of course, the next time it rains, it could happen again.”

Fellow Sicily resident Amanda McClelland said the flooding was a “regular occurrence” over the years she has lived in the street.

“Within minutes the sewage had flowed up from the street and onto my driveway and into the garage,” she said.

“On Friday it rained for so long the drains just couldn’t cope, and it seems any rain now has the potential to wreak havoc. We’ve lost faith in NI Water on this, as they are taking too long to sort it out.”

Following Friday’s flood, South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell demanded an “urgent meeting” with NI Water, and warned that other Finaghy and Upper Malone streets remained at high risk when rain fell.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for NI Water said the sewers were “operating normally” but blamed the high volume of rain for the flooding.

“The sheer volume of rainfall on these two occasions caused the system to become overwhelmed,” she said.

“NI Water are happy to meet with any local representatives to discuss water and sewerage issues in their community. Going forward, we have completed a number of feasibility studies for the Finaghy Road area of Belfast, which included Sicily Park and Greystown Avenue.

“These confirmed that a large project is required to alleviate the risk of flooding in the future. This project is called the Glenmachan Sewer Project with a capital value estimated in the region of £35M.

“NI Water and other agencies met March with residents and local representatives to discuss the problems and also the proposed Glenmachan Sewer Project to be started in Autumn 2015, subject to funding.”

 

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